Sunday, September 28, 2008

Rated R

The following post contains adult themes, sexually-oriented stupidity, and full-frontal nudity. Readers who share DNA with JEDA, or even those who just share a bed with someone who shares DNA with JEDA, might want to click elsewhere and find something else to read this afternoon.
When I was very young, my bedroom was directly across the hall from my mother and my step-father’s bedroom. In those days my step-father was generally the last one to lock the doors, turn out the lights, and head upstairs for the night. Sometimes he closed the bedroom door, sometimes he didn’t.

I have fairly vivid memories of lying awake, waiting for the moment when I’d hear his heavy step start up the stairs. Would he close the door tonight? Or would he leave it open? I, of course, preferred it open. I was convinced that the ghosts who haunted our hallway were obliged to shove off to Jennifer Murray’s house for the night when my mother’s bedroom door was left open. I didn’t understand why it had to be closed some nights, but could be left open others. Why couldn’t my meddling step-father just leave the damn door well enough alone? Didn’t he know there was a colony of belligerent bogeymen living on our landing? Didn’t he care that they frightened me so?

I’m older now—older, and somewhat wiser. I’m onto you, Dale. I totally know now what was on your mind those nights when you closed that door. And, for the record: ew.

This half-buried memory has been rather a lot on my mind lately. I’m trying to remember, did I ever knock on that closed door? Did I ever cry out or shout for it to be left open? Did I ever ask awkward questions about it over pancakes at The Village Inn?

A couple of Sundays ago, first thing in the morning, Boy climbed into bed with me and said, “I heard you and Daddy talking when you went to bed last night. Where you sick? Cuz’ I heard you making scared noises like you were sick.”


Through cowardly deflection and artful evasion, I went ahead and let him think I was sick. Boy let it go after 20 minutes of relentless interrogation, then never mentioned it again. Mister, however, was clearly spooked.

A week or so later I had to solemnly swear nothing more than a few chaste, virginal sighs and a single church mouse peep at the end would escape my lily-lips before he’d agree to get--you know--frisky with me. It was a hard fought seduction on my part. He wouldn’t shut up about, “But they just went to bed blah blah, and Boy must still be awake looking at his Pokeman cards blah blah, and Elder Miss is almost certainly still reading, and Missy has a bit of a cold, and…..”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah. But look! Boobs!”


“Wanna’ touch ‘em?”

“……….Oh, hell. Alright………But BE! QUIET!”

At some point mid-frisk, someone somewhere in the house closed a door. We heard the unmistakable clickthud of spring-loaded latch falling into brass catch, and not two nano seconds later, Mister had his pants in hand and was flying towards the kitchen pantry in a way that made me think he’d had rather too much practice at being rudely interrupted mid-frisk.

Wait. Did I just say ‘kitchen pantry’? I should probably censor that. It should read something slightly more vanilla-like: ‘bedroom closet’ perhaps, or ‘under the bed’. But a stark naked Mister tripping into his rumpled pants in the middle of the kitchen lends itself to far funnier imagery. So, we'll stick with the truth here.  We were doing it on the living room sofa. Deal with it.

I looked at him coolly from my perch on the couch, “Oh for heaven’s sake, it might have just been the cat.”

To which he pointed an accusing finger in the general direction of the kids’ bedrooms and snapped, “That! Was a door! The cat! Cannot! Open! A door!”

At that precise instant an inkling of the farcical fool he was acting must have hit him full monty-like in the face, because he suddenly, still ¾ naked, doubled up into a fit of giggles and sputtered, “I’m sorry. I don’t really know what I’m doing.”

The mystery of who or what opened and closed that door was never solved.  The behavior of our blessed children in recent days would suggest that no lasting trauma was sustained.  Personally, I think they saw nothing, heard nothing--know nothing.  Mister is not so sure.

So maybe we should have waited a bit. Maybe we should have carried our frisky selves discreetly up to our bedroom. Probably my step-father's policy of closing the bedroom door every now and then was a sound one.  But, you know, bedroom doors are not sound barriers. Even the peep of a modest church mouse will carry through thin walls. How exactly did my mother stay so quiet through the years that it took me into adulthood to suss out what they must have been doing behind that closed bedroom door? And how, pray tell, does any healthily amorous couple ever have any sort of sex whatsoever with living, breathing, pre-teens in the house? They’re only going to get smart-assier and less willing to go to sleep at a decent hour from here on out. And now Mister’s all shy and shit.


I sense a dry spell coming on. A very, very dry spell indeed.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

And The Cat Band Played On

Thirteen years ago when Not-Yet-My Mister was trying to sell me on moving to this impossibly green, yet interminably soggy city of his, I was all like, ”Look, I like you. I kind of even really like you. But as much as the romantic in me wants to say your hard ass and winsome smile are enough to justify this kind of leap, the pragmatist in me is urging caution, followed by careful negotiation.”


“Yes, negotiation. I think I’m going to need some guarantees from you.”

“Guarantees? You mean like a ring? Cuz’ I think it’s a little early for…..”

“No, no. Not that kind of guarantee--way too early for that. I’m talking more ‘declarations of future intentions’ rather than a ‘pledge your solemn troth’ kind of thing. Let’s call it a preliminary dowry.”

“A dowry.”

“Right, a dowry. Only, paid directly to me. You need not trouble my family with any part of it.”

“How much is it going to cost me?”

“How much is my love and faithful heart worth to you?”

“Jesus, Jamie. Just tell me what you want.”

“Three things. Three meager trifles and I’ll pack my bags tomorrow.”


“A new flat. You currently live in a flea infested, grease coated, arm pit of a student dorm. And frankly, I’m far too delicate to survive long in such filth.”

“Done. Second?”

“A clothes drier. I know neither you nor anyone in your entire family have ever owned, or dared covet such a new fangled contraption, but I’m here to drag you all kicking and screaming into the 21st century. Towels are not meant to abrade like brittle sandpaper across your skin. Socks are not meant to snap, crackle, and pop like bits of crumpled crepe paper as you sort and fold them. Clothes cannot dry on a line hung in the pissing rain. I can adjust to a kitchen without a dishwasher or a dispose-all, but no clothes drier is a deal breaker.”

“Fine, whatever. And third?”

“A cat.”

“A cat.”

“But not just any cat. I want The Cat. Something luxurious. Something exotic. Something fluffy. Something blue.”



“You want a blue cat.”

“Yes. I saw one in a picture once. It had a fat, round face, and copper eyes.  Gorgeous.  It was called something-blue-something or other. Find me one, won’t you darling? Only then will I know your love is true. Only then can I give myself to you completely.”

The rest is, as they so often say, history.  The breed turned out to be the British Shorthair, and the particular variety of Shorthair that I wanted, the Blue, turned out to be almost nonexistent here in Bergen.  We finally found a breeder in Drammen (city in eastern Norway) who had a kitten he was willing to part with.  Of course,  it was obscenely expensive, but I'm pretty sure I was worth it.
He's been a good Puss.  Haughty, arrogant, distainful.  Distant, dismissive, imperious.  Pretty much everything a good Puss is supposed to be.

Here he is 8 years ago with Elder Miss.
It was incredibly magnanimous of him to pose with her that day.  As you can see, he wasn't in the mood.  And he told me in no uncertain terms that, "If that mewling, drooling moppet so much as smiles at my tail, I swear to God, there will be blood."  Happily, all went well.

Alas, my Puss is an old man now, and his health is beginning to fail him.  He's been sneezing--violent, gripping, brain-curdling sneezing attacks that leave him visibly shaken and drained.  And last week he started whistling through his nose when he breathed. 

The vet, a lovely Danish woman who petted and preened over him like as if he were Bast, the Egyptian cat god, (which, I'm pretty sure, in his agéd fog, he thinks he is) ran some tests, and didn't have the best of prognoses to share.  He has some manner of herpes virus in his eyes which, apparently, he's had for some time.  Like any other form of herpes, it flares up then settles down in waves.  Right now it's very flared up, and there's a secondary bacterial infection going on in his eys that we got some drops for.  He's also got an upper respiratory infection--hence the sneezing--and more pills to treat it.  But the really bad news is he tested positive for FIV (basically the cat version of HIV).

Herpes and FIV--sigh.  We always knew he ran with a dangerous crowd, but we thought he was being careful!*

It's not exactly a death sentence.  He's not suffering (beyond the sneezing, and the twice daily maulings he endures as I try to wrangle eye drops into his weepy eyes). He's not wasting away as we speak, and he's certainly not dying.  But she (the vet) did stop talking about getting his teeth cleaned as soon as she saw the test result, and she said we need to treat this, and any other infection, very aggressively.  She wants him on a special high protein diet, and she says it would probably be best if he didn't go outside anymore.

I'm a cat person.  A life-long lover of the kitties.  This particular kitty has been with me from pretty much day one of my Norwegian life.  It goes without saying that I'm willing to do what it takes to keep him alive as long as it makes sense to keep him alive.  Mister grew up on a farm.  One of his jobs growing up was disposing of the many, many litters of kittens that would turn up throughout the years.  He says he didn't like this job, but he did it.  He suffers no over-wrought sentimentality when it comes to animals.  Even cherished pets. 

So Mom, you may be right.  If he gets sick again after this, Puss may not be long for this life.

*Disclaimer--Neither herpes nor FIV are sexually transmitted diseases in cats.  Both are spread largely through saliva (fighting, biting, spitting, etc).  Whatever, he's still always been the neighborhood man-whore.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Attention!  Attention!

My car Our car MY! car--the new one--the RED car--arrived in Bergen via Oslo via Bremen last night!

I won't get it for another week though, because--and please know that I adore this about my new, red car--it will take the technicians 5 or 6 days to get the on board computers programmed and running. 

On board computers *snigger* 

Did I mention we don't deserve this car?  It wasn't five years ago I was saying to Mister, "Look I don't car what kind of car you get to replace that bloody lemon with the blown out engine. I don't care about color.  Just as long as the defroster still works in this one!  Oh, and it would be nice, though certainly not strictly necessary, but very convenient nevertheless, if the heater were at least marginally functional this time around." 

And now I have technicians programming my on board computers for me--in English no less.

In other news, I heard something about the world economy or some shit over the weekend, but clearly I didn't understand it very well, because did you hear--we just bought a new car! 

Credit crisis?  What credit crisis?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Parental Involvement--Fail

I am a serial quitter.

This is a harsh and unpleasant quality to first recognize and then acknowledge about yourself—stings a bit, like hydrogen peroxide on a cut, only without the pleasing, fizzy chemical reaction. But it is an inescapable fact. I get bored. I get distracted. I’m pathologically lazy. I’m simply not equipped with that all-important ‘see-it-through’ gene. Things get set aside. Pots get put on the back burner. Life goes on.

You remember, several months ago I mentioned that I had volunteered for the PTO. I regretted it almost as soon as I did it. But this business of me quitting things long before I’ve had a chance to see them through has been on my mind quite a bit lately. It has occurred to me that if I’m going to shake myself out of the rut into which my life has fallen, I might have to first shake myself loose of the quitting habit. So I showed up at my first PTO meeting last Tuesday evening nervous, doubtful, but full of determination to honor my commitment.

Keep in mind I wasn’t the official secretary for the meeting, but I’d like to try to give you a rough rundown of the minutes of the meeting:

  • We opened with a guest speaker who lectured us for 35 minutes on the importance of parental involvement in the public schools. Preacher, meet choir.
  • Then a second guest speaker used 25 minutes to encourage us to spend 15 minutes a day--just 15 precious minutes, every day--alone, without distractions, talking--just talking--to our children.
  • Finding this a reasonable request, we all looked at our watches and wondered if we'd make it home before bedtime.
  • When the incoming PTO president introduced herself and opened the floor for committee updates, we all thought, probably not.
  • There was a lengthy discussion about the distribution of some manner of brochure--the significance and outcome of which was entirely lost on me because they didn't use the word ‘brochure’ in the beginning, they used some other word that I had never heard and didn't understand, and by the time I figured out they were talking about brochures, they had satisfied themselves that they were going to give something a try, but I had no idea what they were going to try, so I rather hoped they didn't expect me to help.
  • The 17. Mai committee then discussed the possibility of forming another committee to debate, and handle the possible purchase of a cotton candy machine—cotton candy machines being expensive to rent, apparently, and critical to 17. Mai success.
  • Then the fall flea market committee whined that there weren't enough people on their committee.
  • Then the traffic committee whined that the kommune never listened to them, and nothing ever changed anyway, so maybe they should just disband their committee.
  • One lady argued that the whole organization needed overhauling on account of too many committees.
  • The committee for the preservation of committees objected.
  • Then the treasurer entered a motion to spring for stronger coffee at the next meeting.
  • The 'ayes' carried it.
  • Me, I just wondered when the committee for cake baking and class field trip supervision would be recognized, because that was the one I was there to volunteer for.
  • By 9:15 it began to dawn on me that there was no such committee.
  • I sank lower in my chair.
  • By the end of the two and a half hour meeting I was positively dripping down the back legs in an effort to remain unseen, unheard, and unthere.
Two days later, late Thursday evening, I tracked down the incoming president of the PTO and resigned my position.

Pretty chicken shit of me, no? Possibly even more chicken shit than the time in the 9th grade when I quit the marching band without notice after I found out that early morning rehearsals and band practice would continue throughout the football season.

But to my credit, I did spend those two days between the meeting and my resignation waging a mighty internal battle. Step up, Jamie. This too can be borne, Jamie. You promised them, Jamie. You promised yourself! But O Jesus God, the tedium! The repetition! The bureaucracy! The humanity!

In the end it came down to this: There were more parents who volunteered as PTO representatives for the 1st grade than were needed, I just happened to be sitting at one of the first tables to be asked. At the parent meeting last week one of the mothers who volunteered, but was lower on the list, complained bitterly that she was never called. Apparently she gets orgasmic over committee work. Bam! My replacement. Plus—the brochures, people. I seriously didn’t have a fucking clue what they were talking about. How much help can I possibly be to them?

Judge me if you must.

I promise to be resolute about something else sometime really soon. Seriously. Something fun. Something that makes me feel a little less like chewing my arm off to escape the pain.

Monday, September 15, 2008

You know what this means, don't you?

I am sitting on the couch watching West Wing reruns on the Hallmark channel. My tongue gently probes a dull, but insistant ache on my bottom left molar. I'm drawn to this ache. I wonder what it looks like; how deep can it burrow into my jaw before it begins to affect my sanity? There's a long patch of dull in the script where Josh and Toby are once again screaming at each other in strings of meaningless acronyms that I assume will leave CJ with some pretty tough explaining to do in the briefing room.

My attention drifts. I glance out the window.

The background soundtrack in my head screeches to a sudden, dissonant halt. What the?

One of these things is not like the other.
Where did that come from? How long has it been there?

My molar sinks a root deeper into my mandible, lashes a nerve around the rot, and throbs casually as if to say, "Quite a while actually. You've just been too busy to notice."

And I wonder has nature always been this obliging with the easy metaphor? Have I really just not been paying attention before now?
The flaming tree amidst a forest of green. The burning nerve in my otherwise blameless jaw.

The rot of Autumn. The rot of tooth decay.

The impending Winter, which sucks not unlike this creeping tooth ache. I may have some time--a few weeks, a month maybe--to enjoy the brisk mornings and the vibrant color, to ruminate on the poetry of decay--but eventually I'm going to have to deal with the mountain of crap that's marching right behind it, and, chances are, it's going to sting a bit.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


On the first day of school we had a bit of extra time while Boy was finishing up his getting-to-know-you business in his new classroom, so Elder Miss walked me over to her class's garden patch to show me the potatos and the flowers they had planted last Spring. Every class at the school has been assigned a (roughly) 8 foot square patch of earth that they tend, and till, and plant whatever they see fit into. I think it's all too wonderful to be weird, so don't think for second that's where this is headed.

Two summers ago when my brother and sister-in-law got married, they had as their souvenirs little packets of forget-me-not seeds with their names and the date printed on it, also a little thanks for sharing bit, and please take these seeds home and watch our love bloom and grow....or something....I can't remember. Anyway, I took about 12 packets, intending to sow the seeds of their love all over the world first chance I got.

As fate would have it, that first chance turned out to be last Spring when Elder Miss asked if she could take one of the packets to plant in her class's garden.

I'll be damned, kids. It looks like they took root.

I think, though I can't be absolutely certain, but I am, nevertheless, pretty darn sure, that today is the day my sister-in-law is shipping out for parts Middle Eastward. Her reserve unit was called up earlier this year, and now, alas, the time has come for her to go.

Be safe, Jenny. Be well. Come home; my brother needs you. And if it helps, please know that there are flowers blooming in Norway, against all odds amongst a stain of dead weeds, with your name and your love written all over them.

I leave you with the same advice I gave Mark when he left for Kosovo: If you hear artillery fire, duck. Heroism is entirely over-rated.

*Norwegian for 'forget-me-not', pronounced 'forglem-my-eye'

Thursday, September 11, 2008


I hesitate to get into a whole screed against my adopted countrymen and women whereby I serially highlight the uniquely Norwegian weirdness I experience everyday. It just doesn’t seem prudent, or very fair. I mean, obviously Americans do weird pretty well themselves. To wit: the cereal aisle of any American super market, or the root beer float, or the Republican presidential ticket. That alone, coupled with recent tracking polls, equals scary; Americans are rather better at ‘scary’ than Norwegians.

Nevertheless, my loyal readership—one of you anyway—has asked for more news of the weird. And, after all, the subject does lend itself to some particularly easy writing. So…just this once…

Elementary Weirdness

This is a close-up of Elder Miss’s homework schedule for this week—the 3rd week of the 3rd grade.

Allow me to walk you through it. They’re to read pages 12, 13, and 14 of their reading books (one page per night lest the little scholars be overwhelmed). Page 12 they’re to memorize by Friday. ‘Utenat’—this is new and ambitious work. I had to look it up, means ‘by heart’. I’m intrigued; it might require actual effort.

Page 12 turns out to be the first third of a silly little alphabet poem (pages 13 and 14 being the remaining two thirds). A is for Apple that B Bought—that sort of thing, only in Norwegian. Which means the apple is actually an orange.  Which, now that I think about it, is rather a perfect metaphor to sum up the subtle yet insurmountable differences between the American and Norwegian cultures. But, never mind. Maybe we can get into that later, in 10th grade Sociology.

In addition to the reading, for Tuesday they are asked to copy the alphabet into their notebooks using their nicest handwriting. Then on Thursday, after having read the last page of the alphabet poem, the schedule boldly announces, “Now you know the alphabet!

The alphabet, folks. In case it’s unclear, I think it’s more than a little weird that they spend a week learning the alphabet in the 3rd grade. I know when they start teaching letters and sounds in the 1st grade, they start with the easiest letters to form, then they move on to the most common. By the middle of the 2nd grade, all the students can read, but apparently it takes until the 3rd grade to get around to asking them to memorize the letters of the alphabet in any sort of consistent, universally acknowledged order.

I thought it was a joke, an absurd and insulting waste of time. Elder Miss can read—well! In two languages for crying out loud! Why are we dicking around with the alphabet at this late stage!

But rather than malign her teachers’ judgment, I said, “You’d better do it EM. At least it will give you a chance to practice your penmanship.”

There was a brief argument about big versus small letters. I said all small. She said a mixture of both because some letters are prettier to write big. I could genuinely give a shit, so she won. Then she got started, “a___ B___ c___ d___ E_______________ What comes after E?”

I’m speechless.

“Oh yeah, F” she quickly remembers, “g___ H___ i___ J______________um? “

She has to sing the song to get to K. U she leaves out all together, and her Z is backwards.

I feel compelled to remind you all—most vehemently—that she can read in two languages at, or slightly above, grade level. She is not an idiot.

But still. The 3rd grade! Norwegian secretaries must be the worst secretaries in the whole world.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Half Forgotten Norwegian Weirdness

So that other post about Norwegian weirdness was pretty much just me being annoyed by my in-laws.  My apologies for casting broad cultural aspersions based solely on personal bias.  But this one really is weird, and I had pretty much forgotten all about it.

Where do I begin?
  • I shall shamelessly steal Tales of a Texpatriot's bullet point format.
  • She calls it 'random'.
  • I call it 'liberating'.
  • Very useful for those days (and subjects) when you can't be bothered with any of that narrative arc bullshit.
  • Onward
  • The quality of the above photos is bad because they were taken with my cell phone camera one gray, blustery day in June.
  • My cell phone camera sucks.
  • Also, it is absurdly difficult to get pictures off a cell phone and onto a computer.
  • Thank you, Jørgen for your help in this matter.
  • The kid with his finger up his nose--NOT. MY. KID.
  • Children dressed as mini brides and grooms and pulled in a horse drawn carriage.
  • Adorable.  But, why?
  • It has something to do with SanktHans Aften--Midsummer's Eve.
  • Also called Jonsokk.
  • Also Olsokk.
  • Three names.  One night.  Why?
  • So I asked one of the barnehage teachers, "Why is my son dressed as a mini groom and riding in a horse drawn carriage?"
  • She was pretty sure the tradition comes from Voss (mountain community east of Bergen, much skiing, really lovely, entirely sullied by the prevalance of smalahove)
  • Smalahove must be seen to be believed.
  • Dis
  • Gusting
  • Then I said to the barnehage teacher, "Where is not the same thing as why.  Why?"
  • She couldn't say.
  • So I asked Mister, "Why did the barnehage tantes dress our son and his classmates as mini brides and grooms and parade them around in a horse drawn carriage?"
  • Mister had no idea.
  • Though he had a vague memory of his older sister being dressed thusly on one occasion.
  • Or maybe it was just a picture he saw once, and thought of Hildegunn.
  • Googling is no help.
  • Because, honestly, what do you google?
  • All of the mini brides and grooms were 6 years old and leaving the barnehage to begin grade school in August.
  • So maybe it's a graduation, mile-stone marker kind of event?
  • But no. 
  • Mister says some villages have mini brides and grooms lead the parade on 17. Mai (Constitution Day).
  • No word yet on why.
  • Those are all real flowers.
  • Real roses.  Real daisies.  Real ferny greenery.
  • Someone put some serious time and effort into gathering these get-ups and making those head pieces.
  • Plus--where'd the farking horse come from?
  • No one told me these mini nuptials were going to happen.
  • Hence the lack of camera, and the mini-pixeled cell phone pictures.
  • Perhaps it was rushed.
  • Perhaps one of the girls was pregnant.
  • Perhaps they married them all off to hide the identity of the one.
  • Speaking of the girls, they were gorgeous.
  • I wish someone had given me a tiara of fresh roses and a gauzy veil to wear while being driven around the football field in a horse drawn carriage.
  • They didn't even ask.
  • I wonder why..
  • If anyone out there has any illuminating information about this adorable, yet inexplicable tradtion, by all means....
  • Share

Monday, September 08, 2008

An Edifying Dialogue About Birth Order

At dinner last night

Missy the Younger:  Ooooo, I want to be a grown up soooo bad.  Right now!

Elder Miss:  Not me.  I want to be a baby and get all of mommy's attention.

Boy Middle:  And I will just stay me FOREVER! because I make mommy laugh.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Shiny Happy People

I'm an aging Gen-Xer.  As such, I rounded up a babysitter last night, and headed into town for the R.E.M. concert.

It was an outdoor venue.  As such, it had no seating.  No gently sloping, grassy knoll.  No splintered, weathered bench nor crumbling curb.

I spent 5 1/2 hours last night walking, standing, swaying or generally hitting that funky beat.  I did not avail myself of the festering porta-potties, even for the chance to sit down for 30 seconds.  My bladder is legend.

At one point I turned and yelled into Mister's ear, "DOES YOUR BACK ACHE AS MUCH AS MINE!"

"NO!" he yelled back, "BUT MY HIPS ARE KILLING ME!"

I can't bounce as vigorously to "It's the End of the World" as I used to.  And I don't feel the pathos of "Losing My Religion" quite as keenly as I once did in high school.  But Michael Stipe was charming, his voice held for the entire concert, and they ended the show with "Man on the Moon".  Cuz' that's how it should be.

Hey, Baby!  Are you having fun?

Why, yes Michael.  Yes I am.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Is That A Geyser In That Picture, Or Was He Just Happy To See Me?

Bah Dum Bum

Seriously though folks, I'll say right out of the gate that Iceland didn't manage to be nearly as spectacular as I thought it would be.  Which is not to say it wasn't spectacular.  Because it was.  Quite.  It just wasn't as spectacular as I expected it to be.

This is not Iceland's fault.  My expectations were ridiculously high.

It's possible that if I didn't live in, or hadn't traveled extensively around Western Norway, I would have thought Iceland was the fucking BOMB! 

But alas, I do.  And I have.  Been to Yellowstone a couple of times too...

Consequently Iceland, in all its anomalous geological glory, fell just short of knocking my socks off.

What Western Norway doesn't have though, is The Blue Lagoon.
Now this was bitchin'.  Totally so.  It's a natural hot spring that they've turned into a spa retreat, a quick 20-ish minute drive from the airport.  Temperatures range from tepid bathtub upwards of hotter than hot hottub.  And it comes by that color naturally, which, oddly, is the thing that managed to impress me most.

This was the first stop on our trip.  We were instructed to have swimming suits in our carry-ons, so we were good to go almost as soon as we landed.

Conversations while soaking in the Blue Lagoon tended to be hushed; movements tended to be slow, almost sloth-like. There was no rampant merriment or splashing about.  Even the few children I saw were subdued.  Not because there were any specific rules that I saw prohibiting loud mucking about, but just because anything less than dignified reverence in the midst of all that sulfury steam would have seemed gauche. 

It was, however, permissable to wander about this magnificent blue puddle with a cold beer in your hand.  Which we did.  Gauche be damned.

This lovely little spot is in Thingvellir--site of the world's first legislative assembly.  A strictly open air parliament, of course, because these were Vikings, after all, and buildings in those days were for pussies. 

Apparently, that little pool there in the foreground was a favorite spot--bless their ghoulish Viking hearts--to drown women who were found guilty of witchcraft and incest (because we all know how incest is usually the girl's fault). 
Also notable about Thingvellir is it sits on a massive rift valley, one of the few places where the Mid-Atlantic Ridge can be seen above water.  I got a little thrill when our guide said, "Right now we are standing on America.  Over there (points towards the mountains) is Europe."  Oh goodie, I thought.  By all means, let's stay here.

And here we are posing like dorks in front of Gullfoss.  I've never seen Niagra, so this gets to be the biggest damn waterfall I've ever seen.
It really was quite beautiful, and unbelievably powerful.  I hear Ms. Palin favors an initiative to slap a turbine or twelve on it, and sell the energy cheap to India...or was it Indiana, maybe?...I can't remember.

Anyway, I thought the rainbow over Mister's shoulder was a nice touch.  But, ya' know, that's what rainbows do in Iceland.  They follow you around everywhere, and pose prettily in pictures with you.

That's it.  I take it back. 

On second thought, Iceland really was just. that. spectacular.  I think I'll go back someday before all the glaciers melt--further explore interior of the country and maybe go whale watching if there's any left.