Thursday, March 31, 2011

Double plus good.

A list of awesome:

1. Just heard about this awesome food blog, One Hungry Chef, when someone shared a post on reader.  Gosh I cannot wait to have my own kitchen. I will be making jams and storing frozen casseroles like you wouldn't believe.

2. I have been achieving things! Talked to my boss about maternity leave, sent some emails regarding house buying and leave,  and bought some fillets at work today. These may not sound like spectacular events, but I tend to get really anxious and terrified of talking to people in authority and/or bureaucracy. I realise it's ridiculous - my boss is a really nice dude, he just has a kind of stern face and I get really panicky and forget how to talk. I know I work myself up into the panic, but I just can't seem to help it.

So when I do get stuff done, I feel like I did good!

3. Hot on the heels of my realisation that I probably can't have a cat, there was an ad in the TV guide/local news guide for FREE PUPPIES! Border collie cross labradors, free to good home, five of them!


Okay, so I went and had a look... Oh my goodness puppies are adorable! But I misunderstood the ad - it said they would be ready at the end of the month, so I thought that meant the end of April... This would give us enough time to move in, do a bit of fixing and settling, and then have a month or so of puppy training before Henry arrives.

Oops. Turns out the ad was just copied from the one they had put up at the shops, so end of the month = now. And so theoretically we should wait a bit and see what other free puppies turn up...

BUT awwwww.....




Not a super good photo, but I think this is the one I liked the best - a little girl puppy with a white chest and white toes...  Apparently the owners have called her Obba, may have to change that one if we end up taking her.

4. We are of course counting down the days until Henry, I just realised Ross' birthday is coming up soon, then about a month after that (ish), it'll be Henry time!
And of course with Henry comes...

5. Maternity leave! Six months paid full wages, or maybe nine months on 70% wages, followed by my summer holidays (because they're in July, and will have to be postponed!) I have yet to figure it out properly, hence the need to chase down bureaucracy some more, but anyway - guilt free time at home! I'm going to be realistic and not call it a 'holiday' as such, but I'm looking forward to it, anyway.

6. This weekend is our belated honeymoon type dealie in Akureyri! I will enjoy being in the big smoke, I think it'll be the first time I've been in a proper town since we came to Iceland... How bizarre.
Anyway, we plan to do lots of shopping, mostly home and baby stuff, maybe get some bulk food staples while we're at it? I think there's a pretty huge price difference between the Akureyri and here, not to mention the range available: if we find anchovies, we're stocking up bigtime!

7. If all goes to plan and Ingó does some heavy lifting over the weekend, we could be in our house on SUNDAY NIGHT! Yes, this will be after our driving and being busy and doing things, but if that house is available, we will be in it! So what if the financial bits aren't all completed, possession is nine tenths of the law, right*?

* That's a Dad saying, I never really understood it - sounds like it's some sort of justification for squatting, unfortunately that's not a law here... Oh well.

8. Can't think of anything else in particular, but basically everything is great. I have an amazing family, a gorgeous husband, a baby and house and possible puppy on the way! Good.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Catch 22...

Well, now that I've started rambling about the house, I must continue, yes?

The latest drama is: I got an email from the loan people, saying that all our application bits and pieces are fine, and based on that info we should be fine to get the monies for the house...

BUT!

They need a form from the sheriff (ha ha, sheriff!) confirming that we made an offer that has been accepted. This is necessary for home loans here in Iceland, instead of getting pre-approved, you make an offer on a house, and then once it's accepted you can apply for the loan.

Because we bought it at auction, though, we needed to pay a quarter of the total cost as a deposit, and we need to come up with the next quarter before the handover date. At that point, we'll get the paperwork from the sheriff that will allow us to get the loan.
So to summarize, to get the loan, we need the paperwork. To get the paperwork, we need to pay the sheriff the money from the loan.
ARGH!

Oh well, we are in the midst of finding solutions right now, and I'm not convinced that it'll have any affect on when we move in - if Ingó gets out by next Sunday, we'll be in there five minutes later!

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And since I've got a title that already  fits:

C is for...


Cats - because we all know I am one of those people who is at high risk of becoming a crazy old cat lady. I absolutely adored my cat John Malkovich - he was one of the kittens that Dad brought home from work, and he somehow became my cat, as opposed to ours. Can't wait til I can get another kitty of my own, but not sure if it'll be anytime soon. I'll just have to settle for Snotra for now...


Creative outlets - music, writing, knitting, drawing, taking photos - I have decided talent matters little (yay!), it's all about just doing stuff for fun and stress release and interestingness... And I like the sense of achievement you get when you make something. I think that's one of the things I'm most looking forward to about our house - building things, painting, and just making a place that reflects who we are.

Crows - my brain is a bit blank at the moment, but I've been meaning to mention it anyway: there are a tonne of crows here in Sauðárkrókur. And I love them. You see them everywhere, perched on top of the gates at the graveyard, on the steeple of the church, and flying around in big, creepy, creaky flocks.

Lots of people I've talked to here seem to like them, too. I feel like they usually represent ominousness and doom, but they are almost respected here, from what I've seen.
Amma told me a folk story about a girl who used to feed the crows near her farmhouse, and then one day one of them stole her glove and hopped away. So she followed it, it hopped away some more, and so on, until they were quite far away from the farm. And then the farm was swallowed up by an avalanche.
So the moral of the story is, be nice to crows and they'll save you from a snowy death?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

'Don't buy the house; buy the neighborhood.' Russian Proverb

I was looking for quotes to title the previous post, and I couldn't resist this one. I took a photo out of what will eventually be Henry's bedroom window:


Not as clear as I'd like it, but I promise to take a better photo once we've moved in!  The point is: the pine tree on the right is in Sigga's back garden, and you can just see Amma's little red roof and kitchen window at the back there. Everybody needs good neighbours!

House progress! And a reflection!

So, things are moving along - hooray for progress! The loan people apparently need a little bit more information, but we're hoping that it all goes through properly next week.

In other house news, Ingólfur is up here this weekend clearing out his stuff! We had a bit of a chat about his furniture and things - he has a fully furnished house in Reykjavík, so he is pretty keen to get rid of all the extra beds and fridges in Sölvahús*. He had originally said that we could just take it when we made the first offer to him in December, but I think maybe his girlfriend convinced him that no, there was actually some value in all those things.

So we're hopefully going to be getting a nice leather couch, two fridges (one pretty old and awesome looking!), a washing machine, a dryer and a couple of beds and mattresses - will be very convenient to not have to buy all those things to set ourselves up. Of course it's also convenient for him, he has less stuff to move down south, and I can imagine it would be kind of time consuming to sell it all piece by piece.

He offered three TVs as part of the deal, but I think we'll be pretty happy with the one that we already have. We didn't have a TV in London for a while, and it was kind of awesome - it's so easy to just get sucked in and watch crap for hours on end, even though you don't mean to. I felt like I got some pretty good stuff done while I wasn't watching British reality TV.

There's also about a million shelves and desks and wardrobes around the place, but we basically told him that we can take it or leave it - we don't want to pay extra for clutter that we don't really need, but on the other hand if he thinks it's easier to just leave it behind, then he's more than welcome to do so. He's going to get back to me sometime today on whether the offer works for him, so fingers crossed (yet again - my fingers are going to take a while to go back to their regular shape after all this hoping!)

*That's the name of the house, by the way, named after Sölvi, the guy who built it in 1927. Figure I may as well start calling it by name, I'm still a teeny bit wary of saying 'our house'.

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This is a neat little video - wait for it...




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And that's about it. Ross and I have our trip to Akureyri next weekend, and it's possible that Ingólfur will have finished emptying out his stuff by Sunday afternoon, so we may be able to move in then! Exciting times.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Bandery!

Shameless self promotion! The new single is up here, if you would like to listen to it. There is also a new bio that I'm assuming Joe wrote, it is pretty entertaining and honest.

Apparently they've been playing it on triple J, and someone heard them talking about the band, the album and the break up. Sooo, did anyone else out there get their pregnancy announced on national radio? No? Bummer for you!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Bear with me...

Sigga called me out on my not posting, so here's photos from yesterday!

Me and Mr. Henry Thor Short-man, Esq., as I've just decided to nickname him. 

It's 29 weeks today, so only eleven to go! That is fairly insane, yes? I've been getting a little bit of a back ache at work, probably due to my terrible posture, but I must admit that I'm thrilled with how lucky I've been in terms of pregnancy discomfort. 

It really just seems like the luck of the draw, some people spend nine months throwing up constantly, and some people don't. I'm glad I don't, I am a complete sissy when it comes to feeling sick or in pain. I'm still feeling good all round, a bit tired sometimes, but that's nothing an afternoon nap doesn't fix. Plus, having the perfect excuse for lounging around having afternoon naps? Priceless.


 Back row, from left: Dísa, Maja, Amma, Guja
Front row: Andrés, Stebbi, Mundi, Þóri

Yesterday was Guja's birthday party, she is my grandma's eldest sister , and just turned 90! She definitely does not look or act like it, she's one of the most chipper and active old people I've seen around. Plus the rest of these siblings look pretty good for being mostly in their seventies and eighties, so I'm hoping I inherited some of those good genes...

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Oh hey so I started doing that alphabet thingy, didn't I? Having a bit of trouble thinking these days, so let's just make it a list of say... Three things.

B is for...

Bass guitar - I've been playing for over ten years now, and I've had my beloved Fender for nine of those. I am clearly not a gear head who requires the bestest newest thing, my trusty bass has served me well over the years. Can't wait to get it set up in our basement and play again, I am actually missing it!

Boys Boys Boys! - that other band I got to be in before I left Perth for Iceland. They are super top people, and I had the best time ever singing harmonies about army men and prawns with them. P.S. they are doing really well for themselves, of course, and just won a WA screen award for their clip for Ticky Ticky Boom.

Babies - I never ever thought of myself as a person who's into babies. Y'know how some people just go all googly when they see little dudes? That never happened to me in the past. But at some point in the last year, some part of my brain broke, and now I get all incoherent around small children.

Plus I'm looking forward to mine so much that it's hijacking my blog, but I think that's a good thing, otherwise I'd have nothing to write about! So yeah, small people, I'm pretty much on your side these days.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Everything is nice...

Things are pretty awesome these days, it's amazing what a weight has lifted off us since we heard about the house. I think Ross is hoping we get to get in there earlier than the actual handover date (8th of April), and I hope so, too, but I think it's unlikely... I'm just glad there is a set date now, it's not just something that'll happen eventually!

I filed a tax return for Ross and I yesterday - the financial year is just the regular year, so the deadline is March-ish... Anyway, it was the easiest tax return I've ever done! Ever! Your employer forwards your group certificate straight to the tax office, and they seem to be able to find out about all of your bank accounts, loans and assets, as well as those of your partner.
So all I did was put in my social security number and tax number, and it showed me a bunch of already filled out forms to check over and approve. And that's it. Yes, I guess this system is a little bit big brother, and it makes it difficult to cheat on your tax return, but on the other hand, it makes life so much easier...

Also weirdly easy and doable online - home loan application. Did that one on Thursday night, and again, it consisted mostly of filling in codes to represent me, my loan-taking abilities, and the property itself, and voila! The relevant info was all filled in, please press send form, we'll contact you if we need any more information. Pretty cool, I thought.

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 Oh yeah, Ross and I were supposed to go on our belated honeymoon weekend in Akureyri the other day, but unfortunately the weather has been insane the last few days. Blizzardy Friday, sunny on Saturday, snowy on Sunday and then 50km/hr winds and rain today.

Bit of a bummer that we had to cancel the hotel and stuff, but I was really pleased with how easy it was to postpone the booking. I called them on Thursday night, half-expecting it was too late to change it penalty free. Instead, the nice man said that he totally understood, the roads were a bit treacherous, and would I like to let them know on Friday afternoon, just in case the weather got better?

Different worlds, I guess, and it may have been a different story in summer, but it still made my day.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Bless our house and its heart so savage...

I believe the term might be 'heck yeah'.

We are all grown up, given that we've just volunteered ourselves for a mortgage! Yes, dream house is finally almost ours, although as always I am still a bit too terrified to say it out loud, just in case...

What happened was:

Surprise auction?! Basically, in making our latest offer to buy the dream house, Gusti the real estate guy was mostly talking to Arion bank, the one that Ingolfur owed the most money to. He was, however, having a hard time getting in contact with the other lenders, and in some cases couldn't even find out who they were.

So, while the biggest lender was still thinking things over for an extra two weeks, one of the small time* lenders decided that they'd had enough, and called an emergency auction of the house. We found out about this from various sources, all of whom seemed weirdly pleased to be the bearers of such up-to-date gossip (unfortunately, it was also heartbreaking gossip, so I was unable to share their joy.)

* small time in this case being roughly ten thousand Australian dollars - believe me, a pittance in comparison to the rest of the debts. Yay Icelandic financial system, you are clearly not flawed at all.


Anyway, there have been at least three other emergency auctions called on the house over the years, but they were all postponed for one reason or another. Not this time, of course! My awesome cousin Maggi accompanied me to the house this morning, and convinced me that we shouldn't bid more than ten million kronas (about $85,000) for it. Even if the bidding went above that, we could probably still buy it from the bank for that amount, it would just take a little longer.

The way these auctions work is kind of weird. Apparently there are usually just representatives from the banks that are owed money, and it's quite rare (but allowed) for the general public to come, much less bid. So it was us and the dude from Arion, a dude from another company, the auctioneer guy from the sheriff's office and Gusti. Man, I was relieved that Maggi came with me, all those professional Icelandic dudes in suits give me the creeps.

So Arion offered two million, Maggi told them that I could bid ten at the most, and then Arion guy said he'd offer up to twelve and a half. And then regardless of all the sensible decisions about how much we should pay, I decided we'd rather bid thirteen million now, and get the house, than postpone it for another couple of months, and then possibly lose it to another bidder after all that.

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Well. Thirteen million ($110,000 ish) is arguably 'too much' for that house - it's old, and there's a lot of work that needs to be done to make it all fancy and shiny. But it's livable, and it'll be ours. I've been thinking about the value of things for a while now, and I decided that value, especially with regards to house prices, is pretty much all in your head anyway...

Housing markets in general are weird. The price of a house seems to depend more on who wants it than anything the house itself has to offer. How insane are house prices in Australia at the moment?

For now, although my grandma and aunt are amazingly generous in their hospitality, we really really really want a place of our own. So for someone else the value of the house could be in how nice and fancy it is - i.e. not very. But for us, the value of that same not-very-fancy house is multiplied by hundreds, because of how happy it will make us to finally have a home.

So I am prepared for the many comments of 'you paid too much', which I am sure are on their way from all kinds of well meaning friends and family. But you know what? I think we made the right decision for us and Henry, and I'm really really happy right now.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Blankety blank!

What was my list for today? Oh yeah!
Song titles: ______ and ______!

# Coffee and TV
# Monkey and Bear
# Ellen and Ben
# Judy and the Dream of Horses
# Jenny and the Ess-Dog
# You and Whose Army?

Man, I could keep going all day. It's basically like I'm on a really long car trip, and no one wants to play eye spy with me any more...

Thursday, March 3, 2011

So let's put on our classics and we'll 'ave a little dance, shall we?

The Streets' first album is awesome for occupying your mind while working inside a fish factory.

Ooh, also, here's a list of UnderSea Invertebrate* songs:

1. Prawn Dream - Boys Boys Boys
2. The Mollusk - Ween
3. Octopus' Garden - The Beatles
4. Clam, Crab, Cockle, Cowrie - Joanna Newsom
Edited to add: Rock Lobster - B-52's! How did I even miss that?

And a bonus:

5. Under the Sea from the Little Mermaid - cause duh, it's sung by a crab!

*This is totally how I'm going to make playlists for work from now on.

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What else? It is Friday tomorrow, and now I'm one of those people who only works from Monday to Friday. Therefore, I am pleased at this (predictable) turn of events.

Ooh, next weekend, Ross and I are going to Akureyri, as a late honeymoon type dealie! My lovely great uncle Bjössi's family gave us a weekend away as a wedding present, and we're finally using it - exciting times.

I totally love hotels. An exciting new bathroom with tiny shampoo, someone whose job is to make your bed for you and hang up your towels, and... Hmm, I don't really know what it is that I like so much. It's just one of those things that feels like a super extravagant treat to me, although I'm sure if it was something I did all the time, I'd get sick of it. But for now it makes me feel like a special human, so I'm looking forward to it!

Also, Akureyri: it's the only place apart from Reykjavik that qualifies as a city. Everything else is a town or smaller. So we'll do some shopping (but probably more 'looking at shops' than actual buying), eat some exciting exotic food from a restaurant that isn't Ólafshús, and maybe even go to the movies!

Can you tell I'm very excited?

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In other news, I have decided that sloths are my new favourites:


From here



From here



And one for Henry. I'm pretty sure he also likes sloths.