Posted by: nmancini04 | August 27, 2011

Day 10: And now for something completely different

Hey guys, Maggie and I are both very troubled about all the news coming out of NYC regarding the coming hurricane, the evacuation, the transit shutdown, etc. and we’ve been nervous all day. In one way we’re lucky we’re not there, but in another we both kind of wish we were, as this uncertainty is maddening and we feel like we should be there to stick it out with the City. We’re thinking about everyone there and we’re hoping this turns out to be one of those overblown things that happens now and then. My parents, at least, certainly seem to think it will be.

I know the point of a vacation — and in turn, this blog — is to distract from such things, but I do have something very serious to discuss: the Bunny/Kitty Situation is out of control.

Yesterday I mentioned the bunny and the kittens who hang out in the front yard outside of our apartment in Reykjavík, but it turns out the yard is a living melodrama of feline-leporine relations. Here is a brief list of the cast of animal characters who have been enacting said melodrama in and around the yard — our bunny friend and several cats — and some of their observed behavior over the last 24 hours:

-The Bunny. He is the hero of this piece. He is the Lord of the Yard, has a burrow against one of the stone walls and is generally awesome.

-The two extremely young black kittens who are usually around. They seem to be in the same clan as Bunny, or at least on very familiar terms, although it’s unclear whether they live here (we have confirmed that Bunny does). Bunny seems to be protective of them, as he tried to herd them back into the yard at one point when they were heading up the street this evening.

-A young tabby, not quite as young as the Black Twins, but still not fully grown. She is also part of the yard clan, spending most of her time hanging out with Bunny and the Twins and chasing after or pouncing on strange cats.

-An older black cat, whom we have taken to calling Mama, although we’re not sure she’s actually the kittens’ mother or if she’s even a she. Mama does appear to be familiar with and possibly part of the yard clan. She likes to sit on the picnic table in the yard and watch the ridiculousness.

-A nefarious white cat, with a collar, who is clearly not part of the yard clan and has an adversarial relationship with Bunny and, to a lesser extent, the other cats of the clan. He is the Voldemort of this strange bunny/cat universe. Bunny chased him out of the yard not once but twice and then chased him all the way up the street and out of sight. About 15 minutes later they came sprinting back into sight, this time with Voldemort chasing Bunny. He has been stalking around the yard with his tail bushed out all evening, looming like an evil white specter, while periodically venturing into the yard to creep menacingly at Bunny and get chased around by Tabby.

-A black and white stranger, with collar, whose markings remind me of a cow, and in turn, a cat my family once had named Cowboy. We have taken to calling this one Cow Guy. Although clearly not part of the clan, Cow Guy seems to be more tentative and curious about Bunny rather than an enemy. He hasn’t gotten into any fisticuffs, although Tabby did try to pounce on him a couple of times.

-A fat, ginger cat, whom Maggie has named Marmalade after a ginger cat her grandmother once had. He is a lesser villain to Voldemort. He and Bunny got into a little skirmish earlier, in which Bunny chased Marmalade out of the yard and into a neighboring driveway before Marmalade leaped on top of a trailer to escape. Bunny, who we assume has superior leaping skills, declined to chase him further and went to go chase Voldemort some more. When he’s not getting bushy-tailed and having stare downs with Bunny, Marmalade prefers to keep his distance, perching on the yard wall and watching the proceedings.

-A mostly black calico cat, a stranger, who aside from getting chased briefly, seems to give the yard a wide berth in his frequent walks through the neighborhood. Calico is a wise cat.

-The mysterious gray cat we saw peering from the basement window of the house this morning. She’s older and we’re not sure of her affiliations as she has yet to venture into the yard.

Bunny peers at Cow Guy over his burrow while Tabby looks for trouble

I’m proud to say that after about a half an hour of chasing people around, Bunny finally returned to his burrow and we seemed to witness a yard detente. He just sat around while Voldemort and Cow Guy crept towards him, Marmalade watched from the wall, Mama from her picnic table, the Twins from their bushes and Tabby ran around generally being a pain in the ass to everyone. We’re very proud of Bunny for not escalating things and we’re fiercely protective of him.

Detente: Bunny, Cow Guy and Tabby relax, while Marmalade watches from the wall. Voldemort was lurking by the yard entrance at this time.


Museum Day

As for our actual vacation, today was a museum day, and as such, we don’t have many pictures. Our first stop was at Reykjavík’s cool, modern city hall, which is right on the edge of the Tjörnin, the city’s central lake. In the basement, they have a large, 3D scale map of Iceland, which is pretty cool. Maggie and I walked around it and traced the route we took on our road trip.

Reykjavík's city hall

The 3D map

Then we went to the National Museum, which so far has been one of the highlights of our time in Reykjavík. The museum minutely traces Iceland’s cultural history — and to a lesser extent, it’s natural history — from the Settlement Era right up to the present. They have thousands of interesting relics, artifacts and works of art from Iceland’s history, all presented in a very sleek and appealing way. Full marks. Some highlights for me included the full fishing boat on the top level and some human grave remains from the 10th century, which are presented in lit glass cases in the floor in the precise position in which they were discovered. We weren’t sure if pictures were allowed (and we’re too weird to ask anyone), so we only took a couple of snaps.

An early era Christ figurine

Some strange stained glass

There is also a “hands on” room, which is intended for kids, so of course that strongly appealed to us, especially the helm, sword and shield hanging from the ceiling, which one can arm oneself with. And let me say, Maggie makes a fearsome viking.

Maggie the viking

We spent two hours at the National Museum and it easily could have been more. We got some lunch, took a little break and then decided to check out the Settlement Exhibition. About ten years ago, when renovating a building on Aðalstræti in Reykjavík, the remains of a viking longhouse, dating back to 930, were excavated and have been left in tact in the original spot of their discovery. They built the building around it and turned the building’s basement into a small museum to house the ruins. Aside from the ruins, which are the centerpiece of the exhibition, there are a large number of artifacts on display which were excavated from this and other archaeological finds in the city. The exhibition seeks to provide an introduction to Iceland’s Settlement Period, which it does fairly well, although not as well — nor nearly as extensively — as the National Museum.

With that, we’ll call it an early night and hope that everything turns out okay with Hurricane Irene … and with the detente in the yard.



  1. The bunny-cat segment of your post is evidence that you’ve been away for too long and your mind is starting to go…

    • Mike, does it get heavy carrying around that stone heart of yours all the time?

  2. Maggie, Can your viking picture be your new profile? I Love it.
    (and I think Mike employs a midget to carry the stone heart around)

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