Monday, October 25, 2010

Being a lady is an attitude. ~Chuck Woolery, Love Connection

Have I mentioned that I love this country? October 24th (25th this year) is Kvennafrídagurinn, or Womens' Day Off, where ladies all over the country leave work early to protest the gender pay gap that is still present in Iceland and elsewhere. You get to leave work at 2.25pm instead of 4pm, this percentage.of the work day is the same as the percentage difference in pay between men and women. I can't say I've ever worked in a job where I've encountered a pay gap like that, but it's important to be aware!

Apparently during the first one in 1975, the country pretty much came to a standstill - no one was sure how many women would participate, but it turns out most of them did. Yay Icelandic feminists.

Last night there was a program on TV about Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, who was the first female president of Iceland in 1980, and the first woman in the world to be democratically elected as head of state. I didn't watch it last night, but Amma taped it, and I saw a pretty interesting interview from the presidential campaigns in the eighties. The news dudes asked about 'whether the presidency is really a two person job, as the first lady generally plays a pretty important role in welcoming other leaders, hosting events and accompanying her husband on trips around Iceland and abroad...'

The three other presidential candidates all agreed and said it was important to have a housewife helping out with official functions and whatnot.
Vigdís said that although she didn't have a wife and was unlikely to get one anytime soon, she felt pretty sure that she could somehow manage to get everything done. And that if a travelling partner was required, she had an eight year old daughter who would be perfect for the job.
Argh, I haven't phrased it that well, but it was just a really cool, collected and obvious answer to a stupid, dated question.

So yeah. Iceland, home of awesome ladies. And also, me!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Fish fish fish. And parties.

So, I have finally been busy working!

The fish factory is actually a pretty okay place to work - I felt really positive about the first day, although I think at least part of that was relief that I didn't hate it... It really could have gone either way, but it all worked out fine: Everyone is really nice, I get my own knives, there are lots of regular breaks, and the food is yummy - just a table full of bread and cheese and jam, a buffet of raw fruit and veg, and a fridge full of skyr and yoghurt, plus all the Kókómjólk* you can drink!

*Kókómjólk is a packaged chocolate milk drink, totally delicious and awesome. Ask Anna, if  you don't believe me. Mmm, Kókómjólk.

I also ended up working at functions on Friday and Saturday night at the bar down the road - which should have been fine, as the fish place is usually Monday to Friday. For the next couple of weeks, however, everyone is working Saturdays so that they can make up the hours over Christmas and New Years', so we can get paid holidays. Awesome, but also not.

Friday night was the closing party for the slaughterhouse; so there were many many drunken Icelanders, Poles and New Zealanders. It was a really fun night, everyone was in a good, partying mood, the staff were all really efficient and friendly, and the New Zealanders even did the haka! I got to leave at midnight, which I suspect was just before things started to get messy... Lucky me!

Saturday morning, Ross and I got up at five to go to work at six! I was pretty chipper for the first couple of hours, but was pretty much dead on my feet by the time we finished. Sigga, being the angel that she is, came to pick us up - it's about a five or ten minute walk, but at that point, it felt like the nicest thing anyone had ever done for me. So thoughtful.

I had a nap before the party, but I think I slept just a little bit too long - woke up completely confused and grumpy. Actual conversation between me and Ross:
R: Wake up, sweetheart.
O: Wha?
R: Wake up.
O: Oh. What's the time?
R: Five thirty.
O: Okay. Why?
R: Why what?
O: (pause) What's the time?
R: Umm...

Etcetera. We went around in circles for a while, then I eventually woke up enough to get dressed and ready. Sigga, again proving her sainthood, had already cooked the curry for dinner, and even made me some pappadums and rice so I could eat before I left.

This function was the Lions yearly party, less of a bawdy drunken feast than the slaughterhouse party, but everyone still managed to have a good time. I met a whole group of people who went to school with mum, all of whom were pleased as punch that I'd moved here. People always seem quite surprised and happy that anyone would choose to move here, maybe it makes them realise how lovely Sauðárkrókur is...

Anyway, I got to go home early again (early being midnight, the rest of them were working til four!) and came to Sigga's to unwind a bit before bed. Then I had the best sleep ever. There is nothing like that feeling when you're so deliciously tired from working hard, and you know you're about to sleep for as long as you want. Bliss.

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Also, check out what reader just recommended for me:
Holy crap, knitted skeleton! Google, if this is what comes from collecting and storing all my information, then keep at it!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Snow, ponies and the fish factory....

Whoa, Iceland got cold all of a sudden - down to three degrees yesterday and zero this morning. There's snow on the mountains, and it snowed a little in town yesterday!

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In other (good and less good) news, we are both employed! We both got hired by the fish factory, which is awesome as we were both getting a little bit bored of being unemployed (to be perfectly honest, I think I'm better at doing nothing than Ross, hard-working fella that he is...) Anyway, this job should pay okay, the hours are cool - 7am til 3.30pm - we're both pretty good at getting up early*, and I can still work at the restaurant next door every now and again.

* I can just about hear my Dad make a noise of disbelief - okay, so maybe some of us are a little bit more grumpy about it than others, but I do manage to get up eventually, honest!

The less good part is just that I am a bit of a snob about working in the fish factory, but at this point, I'll just be glad to get out of the house. Money is money, and it'll be nice to get some - I've heard it makes buying a house easier, too...

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What else? As I mentioned in passing above, I have some shifts coming up at the restaurant next door to Amma's. I had a training shift on Sunday night, which was fine. Food service is food service everywhere, so I felt pretty much at ease - except for one comment by the other serving girl. 

As I seated the customers, I'd usually ask if they'd like drinks to start - as you do. The girl pulled me to one side and told me to stop, as it was confusing and a waste of paper to take the food and drink orders separately. The better alternative is apparently to seat people, then do nothing for fifteen minutes while they decide what to eat. Yeeeeahhh, I don't think I'm going to start doing that...

Apart from that, it was fine, so I should be able to work there every once in a while when there are events on - for example, next week I'm working at the end of slaughter season party! Sounds like... uh... fun?

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Oooh, I didn't write about it, but I really enjoyed the horse feast we went to on the weekend. I haven't really eaten much proper fancy restaurant food, so it was a totally awesome experience - five interesting and different courses of horses! I wasn't a huge fan of the smoked foal tongue, but everything else was delicious, especially the salad entree with marinated horse, and the dessert of mare's milk ice cream and chocolate mousse. Yum. (For a full description and photos, see Vicki's blog).

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sunday morning...

And now you have The Velvet Underground in your head. Or maybe No Doubt. You're welcome.


So Ross has gone swimming again this morning - this is the third day in a row! He's been doing laps at the local pool, and says it makes his lungs feel good. This is no doubt a good thing, but I cannot imagine being outside swimming right now, there's still frost on the ground! It is a heated pool, but still...

Yesterday Ross and I went up to Tunga to help round up and sort lambs again. Luckily the rounding up is just from his fields, so it's not the all day pain-fest of the proper round up. Still, it's probably almost a kilometre of trying to run after sheep (to be perfectly honest, running a kilometre is way beyond my skill set.) So it's more like run run run, pant pant, wheeze, run some more, wheeze some more, run some more, hate sheep forever*.

*Not really, I love their stupid pretty little heads, and the delicious delicious rest of them.

Anyway, once all the sheep were in, we had to figure out which ones Andres wanted to keep for possible breeding next year. He had intended to write up a proper list, but it was still in the beginning stages, so what we had was an almost-random list of numbers that he would consult for every sheep. So Ross and I were grabbing a sheep, calling a number and waiting while Andres looked it up. It felt a bit like I was calling bingo... "oh God, that one just heatbutted me right in the legs, legs eleven."
"Ah you jerk, if you jump again I will kill you and eat you, six hundred and twenty five."

It was pretty good Icelandic number practice for Ross, as my uncle doesn't really speak that much English. So, day well spent, although my thighs are more bruises than regular skin.


By the time we'd finished, it was eight thirty and almost completely pitch black - there aren't any streetlights up in the country. So we made our careful way back to the house, then noticed the amazing stars! It's been pretty cloudy lately, but last night was icy cold and clear, and you could see soooo many more stars than I've ever seen before. Awesome.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Etcetera

Not much is going on... Ross and I have been job hunting. It's totally different to how I've looked for jobs in the past, ie. finding stuff I have experience in, looking on job sites on the internet... No, no, here in Iceland, we're pretty much just going into every place that has staff, and asking if they need more staff!

Often the answer seems to be no, the downturn is getting a little bit worse at the moment. I applied for a job at the hospital, and I got a rejection letter that said thanks, but the job doesn't exist any more! In the time between when they posted the ad and sent the replies, they had to cut back on a whole stack of jobs, so they're obviously not hiring anyone new. Bummer.

So who knows where I'll end up working? Hopefully it'll be somewhere that I can walk to work, and that'll pay me decent monies! Apart from that, I don't really mind. I have a couple of shifts at the restaurant next door in the next couple of weeks, just to fill in some gaps - I think that's a pretty good deal, I don't really want to work there full time, but it'd be cool to get some cash monies...

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What else? My mum left on Wednesday, which was pretty sad, but she was very brave with her goodbyes. Mum hates leaving, hates airports, and does not enjoy goodbye hugs very much, so it was very hard to see her go.
And then Ross' mum arrives tomorrow - she and mum will probably be passing each other at 30,000 feet sometime today. The post office goes up for sale (AGAIN!) this weekend, so hopefully this time around she'll get to buy it!

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Apart from that, there is not too much news. We're going to a horsey dinner next week, where every course is horse! Sigga has gone two years in a row now, so I'm pretty sure it'll be a fun night. Tonight we're eating (well, Amma is cooking, anyway) sheep's heads for dinner, so Ross and I will probably make some sandwiches instead. Yum yum.