The other day I went down into the laundry room to collect my clean laundry. We live in a small apartment buildings with seven apartments, and there is a room downstairs with clothes lines for drying clothes – and indeed for washing them too, although everyone in the building has their washing machine inside their apartments.
Here in Iceland, public laundromats are nonexistent, as indeed they are in most places in Europe [although they can probably be found in some larger European cities]. Everyone has their own washing machine, and tumble dryers are not considered a staple appliance, although in recent years they have been gaining in popularity. Personally I had never felt the urge to buy a tumble dryer, even though, when I was in my North American incarnation, they were an intrinsic part of doing my laundry.
So, on my merry way down the stairs, I noticed a rather unusual smell. Couldn’t quite put my finger on it. It was not entirely unpleasant, but something about it was rather cloying. I couldn’t figure out where it was coming from.
Until I turned the corner and walked into the laundry room.
The floor was covered in black soot and splattered with something red, which it took me a minute to realize was blood.
Off to the side, one of my neighbours was hastily gathering up some newspapers that he had clearly been using to wipe up the mess.
The smell was intense.
YT: What are you doing?
N: Me? Just sawing some svið.
OK. Svið are the severed heads of sheep that have been burned in order to singe off all the hair. They are then sawed in two, the brain is removed, and they are boiled and eaten. They normally gross out the tourists bigtime. We natives tend to think they’re rather nice. Not only do they taste good, but they’re traditional, harking back to the days of old where every part of the sheep – and I mean every part – was consumed. You can see a picture here. I have purposely chosen not to insert it in the post because I have my readers’ best interests at heart.
What isn’t nice, however, is when they are sawed in two right underneath your squeaky clean laundry. In the 21st century, svið should be sawed in two in some faraway meat processing plant that then sticks them in a bag and drives them to be placed in the freezer in Bónus.
YT: You’re doing that here?
N: [not listening, or pretending not to listen] Do you know how to work this hose here?
YT: [repeats] You’re doing that right underneath the clean laundry?
N: [dismissive] Oh sure. I made sure none of it went on the clothes. They might smell a bit, though.
A bit. Yeah. A slight bit. I left my neighbour downstairs hosing down the splatter tableau in the laundry room and promptly took the entire freshly-washed load back upstairs where I stuck it in the washing machine.
And thanks to my splatter-happy neighbour, EPI and I now have a brand-new tumble dryer installed in our apartment, which chews up our clothes and then spews them, fibre-by-fibre, into a filter. I don’t particularly care for this new addition to the family or how it treats my clothing, but I must say it is vastly preferable to having it splattered with blood, soot or gray matter while hanging on the line.
Still balmy, still gloomy, lots of Christmas lights shining in the darkness. It was slightly blustery today, but, you know, tolerable. Currently 5°C [43F]. Sunrise was at 11.06 am, sunset at 3.33 pm.