From Iceland — Sour grapes and stuff

Sour grapes and stuff

Published July 31, 2009

Sour grapes and stuff

Greetings Reykjavik Grapevine,
It has been a while since we’ve corresponded. We have been quite busy with our art and with our new baby girl. It was a very special occasion for our family on Monday.It was our daughter Annika’s first birthday. We have been blessed with a beautiful and happy baby girl and we wanted to show her how much she means to us. For her birthday gift, we thought about many things that we could have given her, but we knew we wanted to create something spectacular for her. Since we are both profoundly grounded in our Scandinavian roots, we decided to create a Viking Ship wagon. It was true collaboration, Angel did all the detail carving, painting, and the sewing of sail, pillows and blankets and I designed and constructed the wagon.  
In the weeks and days leading up to Annika’s birthday, we kept the wagon out of her sight. Finally the big day arrived, and we did not know who was more excited. After she opened her other gifts and had cake, we took everyone outside to present her with her final gift. Annika catches a glimpse to what she sees rolling around the corner, points and she shrieks with delight! She hops in the wagon with a smile from ear to ear. After her party, we took Annika and her best friend, Gidget, for a long ride. Both can fit in comfortably with plenty of room to grow. We begin our voyage and Annika loves as we gather momentum, picking up speed going down hills.
We travel along Lake Superior, breathing in the sweet air and listening to the waves. Annika loves the attention that she receives in her wagon. She watches for people and blows kisses to them. When her eyes start to get tired from all the waving, she settles in for a little nap, dreaming of her next voyage. We hope that Annika will enjoy her Viking Ship wagon. It was a labor of love and we hope that she gets many years of enjoyment from it.
 Have a great day!
Andy, Angel & Annika Saur
Dearest Andy, Angel and Annika,
we’ve missed you! Thanks for keeping us up to date. It certainly put a shine on our day. You folks are certainly some of what makes life worth living.
PS – how did your campaign to get the Minnesota Vikings to adopt Immigrant Song as their theme song go? Any success?
[Long-time readers of Grapevine will remember Andy and Angel Saur from his correspondence to the paper some years back. The rest of you need only know that they are awesome, warm people].
Answer to Hanna’s letter in Sourgrapes of GV issue 10
Dear hanna,
You definitely have been unlucky and met a bunch of assholes! As a foreigner established in iceland since january 2008, i can give you a feedback on my experience: yes, some icelanders enter the category “racist” quite well. But they are few. (well, a bit more since last september it seems…)
In general, i found the icelanders quite open, and (once you’ve broken the ice) warm towards me, and the other foreigners that i know. I have worked hard to learn icelandic, and though i am far away from speaking it properly, i manage to hold a small conversation with an icelander. And this has changed a lot for me socially. It seems that for most icelanders, to hear a foreigner speak icelandic (try at least) is the proof that we love the country, more than anything else. And from what i saw, it can be THE thing that makes a doubtfull and cold icelander change totally their attitude toward you.
Speaking of this, i would like to bring back to memories a letter that the Grapevine printed last year in the first issue of august i think. Mr. Robert Zartarian exposes his disappointment at hearing icelanders greeting foreigners in english, and vice-versa. He encourages us, foreigners, to learn at least a few words, as a start. And i now add
my voice to his.
So hanna, to come back to your issue: be happy that the guy didn’t rent you the flat, he obviously was an asshole. And… Have you considered changing your job? Obviously it’s not the best of time to do so, but to work in such an atmosphere is really not the best thing…
Anyway. I hope my letter is of any use to you, and i hope that you get loads of positive testimonies on icelanders. All the best,
Dear Fanny,
alright! Thank you, Fanny! It seems like we got a dialogue going here! That’s awesome – that’s what this paper is for, really. So, guys – send in more stories of Icelanders racism (or lack thereof). Let’s talk about stuff and maybe try and reach a conclusion. It’ll be fun!
As a frequent American visitor to your shores, I must say “Bravo!” to you, Haukur. We in the USA pride ourselves on our independent streak – why then should we attempt to stifle it in Iceland? And sure, when I travel to Iceland, I spend my dollars. I don’t do it, however, to “save” Iceland from the kreppa…. I do it to experience a fascinating, vibrant, progressive society. I certainly expect no undying gratitude from Althingi…. in fact, since when I’m visiting I am experiencing YOUR county, I must say “tak” to YOU, Iceland! Bravo, Haukur – your countrymen and women should be proud of your stance – and Americans should reject the stance of the writer [of last issue’s “editorial letter”]. Bless…
Bill Haigh
Dear Bill,
wow. Sheesh. Thank you so much for your kind and encouraging words. It is assuring to hear that not all visitors to our country feel they are somehow entitled to force their ways or opinions on us because they are “contributing to our failed economy.” So, thank you, sir.

Goðan daginn og Hello from Germany,
we have had such a nice time in Reykjavik in march 2009.
We loved the town, the people and Iceland. It was great.
My problem for today is: I have sawn a shop on Laugavegur. In the window were crystal art, jewellery with crystal and  images formed from glass for the wall. We coudn’t buy anything because the shop was closed. I saw a www. site, but i can not remember.  perhaps you can help me? Perhaps I can buy online.
And I have another question, we will come back some time. We like the people there, so I want to have some mail contact.  Do you know in wich paper I can set a question to get friends or where I can write to find someone?
Takk fehir. Thank you so much for your help.
Vertu blessaður og Bestu kveðjur.
Ingrid Schwerdtfeger
Dear Ingrid,
it’s good to hear you had a great time in March; it’s good to hear you loved the town, the people and Iceland. It is good to hear it was great. Thanks for sending in positive and kind word. It made us feel good. And everyone always needs more of that stuff, right?
(I digress: actually, as I type this, we are listening to SLAYER. Maybe not the most positive, loving, good time music you can get. But still. Every feeling in the emotional spectrum is important, right? Even HATE, and BRUTAL, and METAL, and SLAYER!)
Now, I am sorry to say, I have no idea what Laugavegur store you are referring to. Maybe some of our readers do? They are a helpful, loving bunch. I am sure they will e-mail you with some helpful instructions. I have taken the liberty of printing your most complicated e-mail address under your name, so the helpful and awesome people of Iceland and their guests can reply to you without me mediating and meddling around.
Also, hopefully they will want to write you an e-mail to correspond and become penpals, too. You totally deserve a penpal.
Love to you, and all.

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