Manfred Lemke

Manfred Lemke

Website URL:

A new word to practice

Published in Blog in English

Some years ago many people learned to pronounce the Icelandic word "Eyjafjallajökull". This was because ash from an eruption in that glacier-covered volcano caused havoc. For many days air traffic was halted due to possible damages the ash particles could cause to Jet engines and bring even planes down.

The new name ends also on -jökull, meaning glacier, but it begind on Öræfa... How do English speakers come closest to pronuncing the O with the two dots on top?? Easy. Once Björk was asked how she would pronounce her name and she is told to have said: "Its Björk, it rhymes with jerk". Thus, the sound you make just after the "j" in jerk (without the r) is what you are after. You make that sound twice in the word Öræfajökull. Then there are two other sounds to tackle. The icelandic character "æ" is a diphtong and sounds almost precisely like the English pronoun "I" (I love you). Finally, there is an "f", which is pronounced like a "v" in vein. Here you go:


So, why would you learn this word now? 

This is the name of a volcano which erupted the last time in 1727 AD and it has been classified as dormant until November this year. Then, the seismographs picked up earthquakes which indicated a new flow of lawa underneath the mountain. It seems obvious that the mountain is preparing itself for an eruption. Noone can predict when it will take place, since there is obviously no seismological data available from the 18th century. So, once again the scientists are observing, collecting data and wait to learn how this mountain behaves.

There is a significant amount of people living in the region of the mountain and a new evacuation plan has been crafted for them. More cannot be done for the time being, well, you can learn how to spell the word and hope that the eruption when (not if) it takes place will not disrupt air traffic for a long time...

Here is a link to the Icelandic Volcano gateway:




Published in Blog in English

During most winters we have low pressure areas coming over Iceland with amazing precision. Normally, they would bring 2-3 storms per week, with regularly veering and rising winds and very fluctuating temperatures from just below zero sometimes up to more than 10 degrees centigrade. This rhythm of "autumn lows" as we call them would start some time in November and last until spring. 

Now, however, the weather has been stable from almost a week, which is quite strange. We have had quite strong northerly winds here in the southwest. The wind is very dry, so even though it is below zero, it actually cleans away the snow, it is freeze-dryed, if you want. Where there is ice, it stays and actually, the ice on our pond is getting nicely thick now. Good for skating.

DSC 0005 5


Even the salty seawater is freezin in the puddles between the rocks, so when I walk the dog I need to stay mostly in the sand of the beach. The rocks and the seaweed are too slippery.

DSC 0010 5

In the northern part of the country it has been snowing a lot and many mountain roads are closed. Therefore I assume that many tourists are marooned somewhere, experiencing the amazing force of Icelandic nature.

When I moved to Iceland now soon 30 years ago I enjoyed the adventures of high snow difts and the hassle of getting stuck with my car or helping others to get their car out of snow drifts. But now, I am actually pleased not to have that hassle anymore. Admittedly, it is really cold in these winds here, but at least we can travel. I am sure many tourists and newcomers to Iceland have the time of their lives being snowed in in the valleys of the North...

 DSC 0002 4


The Relationship Between Loving and Missing

Published in Blog in English

Last Saturday our dog Nils showed strange symptoms. I noticed that he didn't celebrate food time with his normal enthusiasm. A little later I petted him on the stomach, he had this manner to turn on his back asking for a nice stomach rub. On that day, he seemed to enjoy my "treatment" as normal, but afterwards he remained strangely still on his back, which he had never done before. Later we discovered that he had quite violent cramps and he tried to vomit, but there was nothing to throw up.

I then decided to take him to the veterinary hospital as an emergency.

The vet thorougly examined Nils, with X-Ray and Ultrasound and the result was devastating. He had an extremely enlarged heart and a huge amount of liquid in his chest and the pericardium. This condition is very severe and there is no remedy. 

We were given the opportunity to gather at the hospital and to say goodbye to our dear friend and then it was time to release him from his pain.

Our pain, however, was just beginning. None of us had expected this to happen that day, of course, and none of us expected the pain of grief to be so great. As I have said so many times since, life is not for wimps.

The thing is this. The amount of sorrow and missing we feel is an indicator of our love. Because we love someone, we miss them when they are gone. So - there are two options. Either not to love in order to prevent the pangs of grief, or to love and to make ourselves vulnerable. A life with love, however, brings so much joy. Yes, there might be a moment of loss and missing, but it will never overshadow all the good times, the joy, laughters, the sharing you had during a lifetime.

We were not created for sorrow and death, but for joy and life. That's why we feel so utterly displaced and miserable in our berievement. The convulsions of sorrow are the reaction of life to death. Every single cell in our body rejects it because it is so alien to our true purpose.

I am glad that death will perish for good some day.

Sleep well our dear friend.



A journey back in time

Published in Blog in English

Have you ever dreamt of time-travelling? I most certainly have. I still remember how fascinated I was when I saw the film Back to the Future. Of course it was nonsense, but the mere thought of being able to visit another time period did fascinate me - and still does.

Well, this past week I had the opportunity to get as close as possible to time-travelling. I was able to follow Joe Malmede back to 1945. 

Joe was then here in Iceland as a young soldier for some seven months. Last week he came back, 72 years later, to show his wife Marie and two of his daughters and their husbands where some key events took place in his life. It was my privilege and pleasure to be their assistant and guide. Amongst the things we did is to visit the very site where his camp and his barrack was. We might have stood precisely on the foundation of that hut. At least, we found the water tower he drew so nicely detailed in this drawing.


It was amazing to see how Joe's memories came back after more than 70 years. Even though his body strength was not the same as it was all those years ago, his eyes were just the same as we could see in the photos from back then, as well as his humour. 

Another remarkable moment was when we visited the War and Peace Museum where we were given a special tour by Gaui, the owner of the collection.

DSC 0031 5 

Gaui is here admiring the drawings and photos Joe had brought with him. Joe´s story and copies of the pictures will now be conserved in the museum for all future.

DSC 0032 5

The military aspect was interesting, but even more remarkable was his visit in this church.

DSC 0010 4

It was here, in 1945 that Joe attended for the first time a service in a Seventh-day Adventist Church. On his way to deployment in Iceland he had learned about the Church and when he arrived he decided to become an Adventist. It was only later that he got to know that he could even find fellow believers here in Iceland and so it was he came to this church. He has very fond memories from that time and he mentions particularly the warmth and hospitality of his Icelandic fellow believers. 


DSC 0011 4

Joe sharing his memories from 1945 in Reykjavik Adventist church with his daughter Jeanie and son in-law Kris.

I thank the Malmedes for allowing me to be part of this remarkable endeavour.




Subscribe to this RSS feed