Toilet seat hunting… one way to crap off the week…a


This post was written in November 2018.  Sorry for the confusion!

On Monday of this week, I wrote a tale of woe about the toilet seat in our upstairs bathroom.  The bumper on the old toilet seat in our current house busted the other day.  Bill decided to get a new seat.  Off we went to the Toom in Herrenberg to find one.

Bill was armed with the measurements he’d taken of our current commode.  We spent several minutes perusing the impressive array of toilet seats available at our handy German hardware store…

There’s a whole wall of seats.  They range from the colorful to the plain.

Bill found a couple of contenders.

I was amused by all the beach scenes, especially since I grew up pretty close to the ocean and miss it.

This one was in 3D!

I probably would have preferred the zebra.

I was eyeing the toilets jealously, but then remembered that our new house has new toilets… or so we were told.  To be honest, with all the houses we visited, it’s hard to tell who said what.  Suffice to say, I don’t think the toilets in our new house are “water saver” types like the one in our current house’s upstairs bathroom.

Bill paid about 30 euros for the new seat, then we headed into Herrenberg for lunch.  We could have had lunch at the Toom, since they have a full scale snack bar there.  We got to town a little bit later than optimal for lunch.  It was about 1:30pm, which is getting close to “pause” time.  I’m going to miss Herrenberg, so I took a few pictures.

I took a photo of this store because I hope someday to visit and buy a table here.  They have some really beautiful custom made tables in this shop on the main drag through town.  It’s called Lieblingsholz.

Closing down the Saturday market.

A charming sign…

Just before we stopped to take a picture of this sign, we stopped at our favorite local pizzeria.  It was closed today, just as it was last time we were in Herrenberg.  I was looking at the sign and an elderly German guy came over and asked us if we wanted to “have a coffee”.  I was actually talking to Bill when I said, “What did you say?”, but I guess the guy thought I was talking to him.  It turned out the German gent spoke perfect English.  He told us about a really nice bakery down the street that serves coffee.  We were very charmed by his inclination to help us find coffee, even though we were looking for lunch and have lived near Herrenberg a total of six years over two tours!  It was such a nice, welcoming gesture, though!

Herrenberg kind of feels like home.  I fear Wiesbaden may not feel that way to me, because it’s so crowded and people have more money there.  But I have met people from Hesse who live down here near Stuttgart and I have met a guy who is married to someone from Stuttgart who lives in Hesse.  So I guess we’ll find some friendly folks regardless.

Yesterday, Bill stopped by our vets’ office in Herrenberg to pay for the dentals we had them do on our dogs and take care of the VAT form.  One of the vets had recommended that we stock up on wormers and flea and tick pills, so it would be on the VAT, too.  I’m going to miss our vets, too.  They’ve taken great care of our boys and I’ve gotten to know them fairly well, for professional purposes, anyway.  I told them I wouldn’t be surprised if we came back to the area at some point.  This is the place for guys like Bill.

We ended up at Hanoi Pho.  We have eaten there once before and I remembered liking the food.  I liked it today, too.

Shot of Bill after he asked our waiter what the lady next him was having.  She had a bowl full of fried stuff that looked just right for me.

But I ended up having shrimp with vegetables and peanut sauce.  Unfortunately, this had a couple of mushrooms in it, but Bill came to my rescue.  It was otherwise very good and lightly spicy, if not a little heavy.  

Bill went with pho made with beef and noodles.  In the picture, you can also see the mushrooms he took from my dish.  Thankfully, there was just one cut into a few pieces.  It didn’t affect the flavor of the dish.  Bill used some red chili sauce in the pho and it was apparently very potent.  He ate the whole thing and even threatened to drink the broth.  As we were leaving, he was wiping his eyes and nose because the sauce had brought on the waterworks.

The proprietor dropped hints that he was ready for a smoke break when he brought us our bill unrequested.  It came to about 25 euros.  We were about finished anyway.  Bill had to go look for a wrench so he can install the new toilet seat.  Then he said, “I guess I better get some wine, too, since we only have two bottles.  One is Moldovan and the other is semi-sweet.”

My response was, “Oh God, yes, get some wine.”  That’s my Bill.  Always a provider.  He’s been busy today, taking care of some minor maintenance issues like changing lightbulbs and offloading trash.  When he removed the old toilet seat, the bolts were so rusted that one snapped clean off.  It was definitely time for a new seat.  Hope the new tenants like it.

Tada!  After Bill installed this snazzy new seat, he fetched a bottle of wine.  I have now christened the new seat and it’s a vast improvement over the old one.  

If you got through today’s post, I would like to share with you some glorious photos from a couple of sunrises this week.  I think the view at our current house is the best part of our experience here.  I’m going to miss it, too.

These were from Tuesday…

And these were from this morning.  For about twenty minutes each morning, especially when it’s going to be cloudy, we get amazing sunrises and sunsets at this time of year.  Unfortunately, the view from our new home will include a lot of rooftops.  We weren’t as lucky in finding a rural location in Wiesbaden.

I took these on Tuesday with my digital camera, which is capable of zooming.  I loved the big blackbird.  He sits in that tree all the time, looking for rodents.  Sometimes it’s exciting to watch as he and his buddies swoop into the fields, competing with the many cats that prowl the area.

I’m not sure what tomorrow has in store for us.  I suspect I’ll be purchasing some rugs at the PX.  Maybe we’ll stop by the Auld Rogue or something.  Next weekend, we’ll be in Baden-Baden resting up and celebrating our anniversary.

New toy causes odd reaction in Arran…


Since we’re stuck inside for the time being, Bill and I have been doing a lot of shopping. German businesses have predictably adapted to stay afloat during this challenging time. For some reason, Bill has been getting lots of ads on Facebook for meat. Pork, beef, and other butchered delights are being offered by local Metzgereien, complete with free delivery. He’s also getting ads for coffee. We’ve now fully stocked our liquor supply… which maybe we shouldn’t have done, but our mint plant has really taken off and maybe I’ll want to have a mojito or something.

I figured now was a good time to try new kitchen gadgets, so I decided to get us a pizza stone and an air fryer. The air fryer is an appliance I’d been wanting to purchase for a long time. I bought a Philips model, XXL, which is bigger than the basic, and one can also purchase baking and pizza attachments for it.

A new toy… takes up a lot of counter space, so it must live downstairs in the basement.

We tried it out last night. Bill cooked chicken leg quarters. They turned out deliciously, but after we ate dinner, we noticed a strange adverse effect on our dog, Arran. As Bill was clearing the table, I noticed that Arran didn’t seem to be feeling very well. He looked almost like he was about to have a seizure. He has had a couple of seizure like “spells” in the past, although they have been years apart. It looked like he was going to have another one last night.

Poor Arran had a frightened, confused, and sickened look on his face, like he might vomit. His tail was tucked between his legs, and he moved very slowly, as if he was off balance and on the verge of collapse. He started trembling, which automatically made me think of awful reasons why dogs suddenly start to shake. A friend of mine recently lost her dog to kidney failure, and trembling was her dog’s most prominent symptom. I worried that maybe Arran was trying to tell us something awful… He’s ten years old and seems very healthy, but I know all too well that dogs can have silent diseases that suddenly take them. Our dog, Zane, was diagnosed with lymphoma and died a week later.

Then I wondered if maybe the air fryer had something toxic in it that had poisoned Arran. I even looked up xylitol, which is a sweetener that is deadly to dogs. I wondered if he’d somehow gotten ahold of some. We even considered calling the emergency vet, then wondered if they’d be open during this cursed coronavirus crisis. I was very worried that we might experience another tragic canine loss.

But then I went Googling, and I came across this fascinating Reddit thread. About a year or two ago, many people posted about their dogs’ strange reactions to air fryers. The behavior they were describing was very much like what Bill and I witnessed in Arran last night.

Evidently, what Arran experienced after dinner is not uncommon in dogs when their humans start using new appliances. The air fryer was very quiet to us, but as a dog, Arran can hear things that we can’t. After reading the Reddit thread, it occurred to me that the high, whirring, fan sound of the fryer must have disturbed Arran’s inner ear, which would have affected his balance and probably made him feel sick. For him, it must have been like he was trapped at a super loud disco or something, and it just took awhile for his ears to quit ringing. That would explain his odd behavior last night. Thankfully, about an hour after we were finished eating and after lots of hugs and reassurance from Bill, Arran was back to his normal self. He’s just fine this morning.

People commenting on the Reddit thread wrote about their dogs not liking the Instant Pot, smoke detectors that beep, or other appliances that make a high pitched noises. We do have an Instant Pot, and Arran doesn’t seem to have a problem with it. In fact, he loves it when Bill gets it out, since he uses it to make homemade dog food. But clearly the air fryer is a problem. Fortunately, we have a fenced backyard Arran can hang out in, as well as a large house with distant rooms we can take put him in when we use the fryer. Or, I can just take him for an extended walk… which he loves and I desperately need to do more of for my health’s sake. According to the Reddit thread, just getting the pet away from the appliance when it’s operating is enough to prevent this odd attack.

For more reading about how our latest technology drives pets insane, click here.

My new skill.


Since Bill and I are still housebound, like most everyone else is, we have been doing some online shopping. My husband, being the very military minded man he is, was becoming distressed over his inability to get a haircut. All of the barbers and hairstylists have closed until the COVID-19 threat passes.

Bill hates it when his hair gets shaggy and hits the top of his ears. I don’t like the way it looks, either. Recognizing that I’ve been cutting my own hair for many years, Bill asked me if I would mind giving him a trim. Being the ever dutiful wife I am, I ordered some clippers from Amazon. They arrived yesterday, and Bill got his haircut outside on the patio.

It didn’t turn out badly at all. I used to clip my horse for horse shows all the time, back in the day. Here are a few photos of the process and the end result.

I told Bill that yesterday’s clip job might hold him until he can get to a real barber. But then I realized that I’ll probably have to do this a few more times before this virus mess is done. I may even get pretty good at the job. Now it occurs to me that we could have saved some money over the years… I may not be much for handjobs, but at least I can give a decent haircut.

Special thanks to this lady on the Sexy Hair channel for reminding me how to use clippers, and the best technique for achieving the end result on a human being.

I didn’t take much off the top of his head, although I’ll probably have to go there before too long. Today, we’re getting a bottle of rum and an air fryer. I think the online merchants and delivery drivers are going to come out ahead in this virus crisis.

Liability insurance… a small investment pays off…


Although I’ve been blogging about our travels since before we lived in Germany for the second time, I am aware that my “travel blog” has somewhat turned into a German living blog.  Many of my regular readers are Americans who live in the Stuttgart area.  Quite a few “local” readers are also somehow affiliated with the U.S. military.
A couple of months ago, I decided to leave several of our local Facebook groups.  I had a few reasons for doing so.  The main reason was that some of the drama in the local groups was causing me annoyance and distress.  However, I am grateful that I was in one of the local groups long enough to be talked into buying German liability insurance. 
One of our local Facebook groups is run by Gerhard Koch, a German who sells insurance for a living.  He very frequently advertises his products to group members.  He even hosts information dinners to talk up his insurance policies.  More than once, someone has accused him of using the group to bolster his business.  
It seems that many Americans assume that the insurance they can get through USAA or another American insurance company is enough for living here in Germany.  For all I know, that could be true.  Bill and I do have renter’s insurance through USAA that we’ve never had to use.  We recently had a situation in our rental property that we could have tried using our USAA insurance to cover.  However, I will go on record to say that I’m glad we didn’t have to go that route.    
A couple of years ago, I told Bill that I thought it would be a good idea to invest in German liability insurance.  Although at that time, we had not experienced it personally, I had read a lot of horror stories from people who had mishaps in their rental houses or had otherwise damaged someone’s property.  Germans are every bit as litigious as Americans are.  I know one woman who had a guest stay at her home in Germany and he somehow flooded and ruined their kitchen!  She and her husband did not have liability insurance and ended up having to use their life savings to cover the damage.  It amounted to many thousands of euros that they had to cover personally!
After hearing about that, I nagged Bill to buy the policy.  Actually, we got policies for personal liability and for our dogs, since both dogs and accidents are unpredictable.  Together, I think we spent a couple of hundred euros for a year’s coverage under both policies, which I believe cover us into millions of euros of potential damage.  It made me feel better to have that coverage.  For most of our marriage, Bill and I have been rather broke.  We are now pretty financially comfortable and, for the first time ever, don’t have to worry much about money.  In less than a year, my student loans will finally be paid off years ahead of schedule.  We can finally think about settling in a home of our own.  The last thing I want to deal with or pay for is damage to our rental house in Germany.  So Bill bought the policy and made me happy.
Sure enough, in late August of this year, we had occasion to use our policy.  We had an old awning attached to our house.  I didn’t use the awning that often, except on days when the sun was especially brutal.  The awning helped keep our living room from getting too hot.  For some reason, this year the awning had started to list a bit.  One side hung lower than the other side did.  We told our landlords and the husband came over to “fix” it.  He did manage to temporarily fix the problem, but our landlady said she didn’t know how long the repair would last.  She did not tell us not to use the awning and, I note, did not have a qualified repair person fix it.  Our landlord is very handy, but I’m not sure he’s an expert on awnings.
For a few weeks, all was fine.  I used the awning a couple of times on hot days with no issues.  Then one warm day in late August, I had cranked out the awning and gone upstairs for a bit.  The wind suddenly gusted and the awning collapsed.  I heard it hit the patio with a resounding thud and there was a loud scrape as the awning violently pushed our outdoor furniture aside.  I went outside to inspect the damage.  The awning is very heavy.  I’m really glad no one was standing under it when it fell, because I’m pretty sure someone could have been seriously hurt or even killed if it had fallen on their head.
The landlady immediately accused me of negligence because I used the defective awning on a hot, “windy” day.  It was not windy when I unrolled it.  The gust of wind had been swift, sudden, and unexpected.  But because I wasn’t sitting outside when the wind blew, and it fell, she claimed I was at fault.  Then she asked about liability insurance after she complained about some dog hair in the doorway and claimed that I wasn’t taking good enough care of the new windows and doors she had installed right after we moved in.
Now… I don’t actually have a problem with using liability insurance for the awning.  After all, insurance is supposed to be used for accidental events like random awning failures.  My issue is that she accused me of negligence.  Frankly, I think if anyone was negligent, it was she.
She finally brought a legitimate repair person over who said the awning couldn’t be fixed.  At the same time, we also happened to be having a problem with the electric rolladens.  I got blamed for that situation, too.  She said we weren’t using them often enough, and that’s why when we pressed the button to get them to come down, one of the rolladens wouldn’t budge.  The actual problem was that rolladen came off track somehow in the wall above the door.  After the repair for the rolladens was done, the landlady eventually admitted that it wasn’t installed properly in the first place.  However, the awning remained a sticking point… she continually sent Bill emails about the insurance money.  
I have to admit, we were both really pissed off and even considering moving over her insistence that we were “bad tenants”.  I’m still pretty angry with our landlady for the way she handled this situation.  However, we did learn yesterday that, after having inspected the damage last week, the insurance company decided to give our landlords 540 euros (although the landlady claims they only gave her 310 euros and reminds us that awnings cost 2800 euros).  That amount more than covers several times over what we paid for the insurance.  Moreover, if I hear another word about the awning, I can tell the landlady that I wasn’t negligent.  It’s because of me that we even had that liability insurance in the first place.
I don’t think she or her husband want us to move.  If we moved, she’d have to vet new people and it’s likely they wouldn’t buy insurance because many Americans seem to think it’s a scam.  Moreover, while we have had a couple of mishaps in the house, we pay our bills and the neighbors seem to like us.  We represent a dependable flow of a lot of euros for a house that isn’t all that great.
The truth is, we don’t want to move, either.  Moving is a pain in the ass.  Finding a place to live in this area is an even bigger pain in the ass.  There’s no guarantee that the next landlords would be any less irritating.  Also, we like the neighborhood where we live.  People are nice here and not overly uptight, as they were in the first neighborhood we lived in when we were here from 07-09.
However, if there’s one thing I learned from this situation, it’s that I’m ready to be a homeowner and because we had insurance, that will be an easier goal to attain.  Folks, if you live in Germany, you really should consider buying liability insurance.  It’s very cheap and if you have an “Unfall” like we did, chances are it will be covered.  I’d rather pay a hundred or so euros for an insurance policy than several hundred euros for an old awning that collapsed due to a sudden breeze.  Just something to think about.

Hard water stain removal…


Here in the Stuttgart area, the water is full of minerals.  The minerals may be good for one’s health, but they aren’t so good for shower stalls and glassware, which stubbornly bear the hard water stains like badges of dishonor.

I had been watching with dismay as my glass shower stall became more and more opaque with the mineral stains.  Some enterprising soul in our local Facebook group asked what could be used to remove the residue.  Although I had some luck with German bathroom cleaner I was using when we first got here, I hated the way the stuff smelled (like cheap men’s cologne).  So when I went to the Real the other day, I decided to pick up some cleaner that was recommended by people in the know.

Evidence of hard water…  No amount of scrubbing with Soft Scrub or window cleaner would get rid of these hard water stains…

Frosch vinegar cleaner…  You are supposed to dilute this with water, but I didn’t have a sprayer handy.  I ended up using it straight.  Essig is the German word for vinegar, while Reiniger means cleaner.

New and improved look…  

Frosch vinegar cleaner does a good job of getting rid of those pesky stains.  It smells very strongly of vinegar and, truth be told, I probably could have just gotten some plain white vinegar and water and gotten the same result for less money.  I’ve heard lemon oil also works, though I haven’t tried that yet.   I’ll probably need to clean with it a few more times to get rid of all of the stains.  It also helps to use a squeegee…

Handheld squeegee useful for cleaning and reducing calcium deposits after showering.  Just use it to encourage the hard water to go down the drain before it dries on the glass.

This particular cleaner is vegan (!) and free from harmful chemicals.  The bottle is made of recyclable materials.  It’s also very effective detergent.  I used it to get rid of the hard water stains, but it does a good job of cleaning, too.  And it doesn’t smell like cheap men’s cologne, either.  I call Frosch vinegar cleaner a winner.

Keeping our cool on July 4th…


For the past few days, Europe has been in the grips of a heat wave.  It’s been over 90 degrees for the past several days and will continue to be hot for at least the rest of the week.  When Bill and I lived in Germany last time, we simply grinned and bore the hot weather.  It didn’t last long and, besides, while air conditioners were available, we never heard about them because Facebook was less of a “thing” then.

Fast forward six years… It’s our first July in Germany since 2009.  My office in the house we currently live in is perfectly temperate most of the year, except for the summer.  In the morning, the sun beats down on my desk, making the room unbearably hot until the afternoon.  It’s still pretty hot after 1:00pm.  The windows near my desk do not have rolladens and I can’t easily hang curtains.   So today, Bill and I decided to hit the Toom Baumarkt in Herrenberg and see if we could score an air conditioner.

There were lots of people shopping today, and quite a few were looking for fans.  I didn’t see any Germans wanting an air conditioner.

This was my first time at Germany’s answer to Home Depot or Lowe’s.  I must admit I was impressed.  Aside from a large inventory of tools and items for the home, the Toom Baumarkt even had a cafe and a couple of wurst stands.

I love how civilized the Germans are when it comes to shopping.  Who needs a McDonald’s when you can have wurst and pommes washed down with beer?  They also have a public restroom, which is good to know they have.

We located the air conditioner we wanted to buy, but had to wait a bit for customer service.  Some guy was chatting with one of the workers over a fan that cost 24,99.  Until they were done speaking, the rest of us waiting didn’t exist.  I don’t necessarily think that is necessarily a bad thing; it’s just different from the way Americans tend to do things.

We settled on a machine capable of cooling down my big room, then searched for a window air lock. Unfortunately, we were not able to find one.  I checked and see that they are also mostly out.

We bought a floor model; hence no need for a box.

Our new AC…  on our way out of the parking lot, we had to wait for a biker to get directions from the guy ahead of us.

The new machine was easy to set up, though we had to improvise to block out the hot air.  This will have to do until I can get my hands on an air lock kit.

At least the towels block out a little sun.  

Bill hooked up the machine and the room is cooling down.  I’m thinking it was totally worth the 479 euros we paid, even if we don’t end up having to use it much.  I am amazed at how hot the hose is when I touch it and how quickly the room started to feel more comfortable.

Of course, we could have cooled down the old fashioned way…  Toom Baumarkt sells ice cream, too.

In other news, this morning Bill and I took our dogs on a three mile walk.  We were on our way back and were crossing a wheat field when a big Siamese cat suddenly hissed and jumped out of the wheat, scaring the bejesus out of me, Bill, and our dogs, Zane and Arran.  Both of them went nuts and made it even more challenging to get home to the relative coolness of the house.

My new Eckbank Gruppe…


In our storage, Bill and I have a pub table and five chairs.  We used to have six chairs, but one of them broke, so we got rid of it.  I also inherited a bunch of barstools from my mom that don’t match anything.  We didn’t bring our big table and chairs with us because we were only given enough money to move 5000 pounds to Germany.  Also, I didn’t think it would survive the trip.  Our table and chairs are pretty cheap and have been slowly falling apart, thanks to all the moving we’ve done.  The table has at least one bum leg that is missing a screw or two.  We brought a small table and chairs set Bill bought at Bed, Bath, and Beyond ages ago.

About a month ago, I got tired of the shitty $100 dining set Bill and I have been using.  Bill bought that set when he was single and broke and we used it a lot when we first got married.  But it’s not very comfortable or solid.  It’s only big enough for two people and I know we’re going to have at least one more houseguest this year.  Besides, I’d been wanting an Eckbank Gruppe for ages.

When we were in the States, I actually did find a nice set on a site called Furniture from Germany.  I almost ordered it, but never got around to it.  It was rather pricey and didn’t really match my decor that well.  Even if I had bought it, we might not have been able to bring it with us because of its size.

Now that we’re here and will probably be living in Germany for awhile, I decided to order a small Eckbank Gruppe.  You’d think something like this would be easy to find in Germany.  I got one from of all places.  It’s not very fancy and, in fact, I had seen it for sale on a number of sites.  I just got the best price from a Marketplace on Amazon.  For about $766 (including shipping) I got a very solid spruce table and chairs.  I had to wait a month for it because they produce them on demand.  It arrived in seven boxes this morning, delivered by a cranky German guy who wasn’t amused by my lame attempts to speak Deutsch.

When I get it put together, it’s supposed to look like this…


After unloading all seven boxes, this is what we have so far…

I think I’ve sort of figured out how this is all supposed to fit…


Unfortunately, the directions are a series of diagrams that are a bit confusing.  Even if there were printed directions, I doubt they’d be helpful since they’d be in German.  Anyway, I see lots of holes, but they don’t seem to match up with other holes, which is usually the case with these things.  I think I might need a power drill and I don’t think we have one.  Also, I’m not a carpenter.  This may turn out to be a job for a professional…

On the other hand, these chairs (which I didn’t have to assemble) are really solid and very nice.

So is the table, which I did have to put the legs on.  I need a wrench to tighten the bolts, though, and I don’t have one…  

I like my new furniture, even if it does sort of create decorative chaos in the house.  I look forward to having it all assembled and rearranging our living room/dining room so it doesn’t look so weird now.  I wish Bill were home so we could figure this out… or hire a heimwerker to come by and do it for us.

I’m sure we will enjoy this new table and chairs and it will see many good dinners and boozy drinks.  At some point, I’ll probably want to put a new finish on it.  And now that we have a new table and chairs, we have more seating for friends.  Guess it’s time to make some.

ETA:  I just got an urgent email from the furniture company.  It was hard to figure out what it said, even with Google Chrome translation, but I think I pieced together that they were concerned that I hadn’t gotten my order.  I wrote back in English that I got the table and chairs and offered a phone number, but warned that I speak almost no German.  I’m working on it, though…  In fact, today I think I’ve used more German than I have since we got here.

Though I doubt that is what he’ll say when he tries to figure out how to construct this thing…

ETA:  Now it turns out I only paid for the corner bench and still owe for the table.  *Sigh*

ETA again:  Once I had paid for everything, it came to about 1100 euros.  I am writing this in December 2015 and, I must say, we love this table and bench set.  It’s very solid and comfortable.  The dogs love it, which means the cushions have lots of hair on them.  But it’s the right size for us.  Someday, I will stain and lacquer it.

Even more adventures in German laundry…


This morning, I went down to the basement to start a load of laundry.  Unfortunately, I was still half asleep when I set the machine.  I ended up using the “bettdecken” setting instead of “pflegeleicht”, which is what I usually use for washing clothes.  No matter, though…  both cycles take a long time, so it probably doesn’t really make any difference.  But then I got to thinking.  Americans who live in Germany and have to use German washing machines may not always know what settings are best.

The first time we lived here, we borrowed a German washing machine from the US government.  We never had any problems with it, though I have read on Facebook that some folks haven’t been so lucky with their borrowed machines.  The nice thing about the German machine we used first time we were here is that it had a timer on it.  You could see how long the cycle was.  Given that some cycles can take a couple of hours, that was a very useful feature.

This time, Bill and I had to buy our own machine.  I picked one off  It’s a pretty good machine, except when I find it full of grey water (though I think that’s a plumbing issue rather than a machine issue).  Unfortunately, when I bought the machine, I didn’t get one with a timer.  It took a few cycles before I learned which cycle was what.

My trusty washing machine.

Most of the time, I use the “pflegeleicht” setting.  Plegeleicht means “easy care”.  I haven’t actually timed the cycle, but I’d say it runs for about 90 minutes or so.  When I wash my sheets, I use “bettdecken”.  Bettdecken is for bed clothes and duvet covers.  I don’t know how it differs from plegeleicht.  I just use it because I’m supposed to for bedding.  It also runs for about 90 minutes or so.

There’s also the Baum-wolle Eco setting.  That one is kind of the default if you push the play button before making an alternate choice.  Baum-wolle is for cottons.  It’s a very long cycle– like over two hours.  I never use it unless I have nothing else to do all day.

There’s a Wolle setting for wool, which I never use because I rarely wear wool.  And there’s also a Koch-Buntwasche setting, which I think is another all purpose setting.  I never use it because it’s too long.

My machine has a “baby care” setting, which I find funny because it’s in English.  Not having any babies, I’ve never felt the need to try that setting.

Sometimes I use the “Kurz-30” setting, like if I’m washing bathroom rugs, tablecloths, or napkins.  It’s supposed to be a short cycle.  I’m not sure if the 30 stands for minutes or not.  I can’t be bothered to time the cycle.  Maybe I should in the interest of science.

There’s also a silk/delicate setting (feinwasche), which I never use because I don’t wear silk or delicate items anymore.  My clothes are strictly no frills Eddie Bauer and LL Bean jobs that can take a lot of punishment.

My machine goes up to 1400 RPMs, but I never use any settings that go that high because I see no need to.  The ones that go up to 800 RPMs are plenty powerful enough for me.  I never notice my clothes being any less clean with lower RPMs.  (My German friend Susanne says the higher RPMs are actually for getting the clothes more dry.  I suppose that may be one way to save money on drying.)  My machine also goes up to 80 degrees Celsius (176 degrees Fahrenheit).  I usually use the settings that go to 40 degrees Celsius.  The water gets heated in the machine instead of in the house.

One thing we had to get used to is leaving the door to the machine ajar.  If you don’t, the machine will stink of stagnant water.  It will also get moldy.  I imagine I will soon need to run a cycle with vinegar in it to help descale the hard water deposits that can form after awhile.  I have also had to learn how to drain the machine and clean out the filter, which I never had to do with my trusty Roper top loader back home.  And God forbid you use American soap in the machine.  I’ve done it a few times with no serious problems, but a lot of American detergents are too sudsy and can clog up the machine if you use them too often.  Supposedly, you can use the new fangled American detergents for high efficiency machines.  I haven’t tried that yet because I kind of like the way German detergents smell.

I do think my German washing machine does a pretty good job cleaning my clothes.  Unfortunately, it only holds 7 kilos at a time, so I have to do smaller loads.  We had an American dryer last time we lived here because American dryers run on 220 voltage and can handle more clothes.  This time, we bought a Turkish dryer that vents outside.  It does alright and didn’t cost much, though it’s not the most energy efficient machine out there.

Our Turkish dryer.

Maybe as the weather improves, we will embrace using a clothesline or a “spider”.  The people who lived here before us sold us theirs.  It can be an effective way to save money and helps clothes smell “April fresh”, too…  Well, perhaps as long as the field adjacent to our yard hasn’t been freshly fertilized.  I think they spread some manure in the field yesterday because the air had the pungent aroma of shit.

I think doing laundry in Germany can be a daunting experience for some American folks.  Some never get the hang of it.  The clothes washer is not a problem for me; I’m having more problems figuring out the dishwasher.

German detergents…


Every time I live abroad, I take notice of the local tastes in things.  This morning, as I was scrubbing the toilets and wiping the surfaces in our bathrooms, it occurred to me that Germans have different tastes in what cleaning products should smell like.  When we first moved into our house, I asked Bill to pick up some toilet cleaner and bathroom spray.  I thought he’d get them at the commissary and I’d be using the same Lysol products I usually use.  But no, it was more convenient to get the stuff at the local Real, which is sort of like Germany’s version of Wal-Mart (only it’s way nicer and less irritating).

So he brought home two bottles of Zekol for the two bathrooms and two cans of WC Fix (now that’s a pretty cut and dried product name, don’t you think?) for the toilets.  First off, let’s look at the WC Fix.  Now, one can purchase toilet cleaner in Germany that is like what we have in the United States.  It comes in a plastic bottle with a curved neck for easier aiming under the rim of the toilet bowl.

But for some reason, Bill bought two cans of spray that foam up like Scrubbing Bubbles or shaving cream.  So instead of the blue syrup I get with Lysol toilet cleaners, I get whipped cream in my toilet. And I guess if there’s anything in there that wasn’t scrubbed away before I sprayed, that will just add to my imaginary toilet sundae.

I could have some serious fun with this toilet cleaner if I tried…


What’s even more interesting about this foamy German toilet cleaner are the available scents.  The yellow can pictured below smells kind of lemony, which I guess makes sense.  American products that smell lemony are usually furniture cleaners, but I can see why Germans would want their bathrooms to smell like citrus fruit.  It beats the alternative, right?  Americans seem to favor the “fresh chemical scent”, based on what I’ve seen back home.  Most of my bathroom cleaners at home in America smell like industrial strength germ cleaner.  The other can of WC Fix Bill bought smells like lavender.  I don’t think I’ve ever run into lavender scented toilet cleaner before I moved back to Germany.  It’s not unpleasant, just different to this American.

Eau de cheap men’s cologne…  It even says “bad” on the label.  😉

Now, the Zekol bathroom cleaner is even more interesting.  It’s a good product and does a good job cleaning the sink and especially the glass enclosure of the shower stall.  But the scents are really something else.  The bottle pictured is the “Classic” formula and it smells like really strong cheap men’s cologne.  It’s kind of sweet and cloying and I don’t like it that much.

The other bottle, which is pictured below, has a scent called “Purple Rain”.  Given that  I am a child of the 80s, that name immediately cracks me up.  Yes, I’ve seen Prince’s screen debut many times.  But then I think about it some more.  “Purple Rain” is written in English on packaging that is otherwise in German.  And what’s so clean about purple rain, anyway?  I think if I saw purple rain falling from the sky, I’d be afraid we were having some kind of nuclear attack or something.  Even more interesting is the way this product smells.  It doesn’t smell purple.  It smells like strawberries.  Yes, I’ve always wanted a strawberry scented shitter in my house!

Purple Rain, Purple Rain… Purple Rain, Purple Rain… come on, you know you want to sing it too!


Wouldn’t it have made more sense to make the product smell like something purple, like grapes?  How about eggplant?  If you’re going to make a toilet smell fruity, I would think eggplant might work.

This isn’t the first time I’ve used products I thought were funny in some way.  When I lived in Armenia back in the 1990s, I used to buy an Iranian laundry detergent called Barf.  I’m not kidding.  It does exist and many other people have blogged about it.  Apparently “Barf” is the Farsi word for snow.

This appears to be somewhat new packaging.  In my day, Barf was sold in boxes with Russian letters.  That made it even funnier.


This is a very silly post, but it’s put me in a good mood.  Now I’m going to spoil it with a rant on my other blog.

My kitchen annex…


I haven’t taken any photos of our little kitchen because, frankly, it’s a bit of a mess and I didn’t feel like cleaning it just so I could get a few pictures.  But I did want to post a few photos of how we used one of the little rooms on the first floor.  We have two small rooms down there that aren’t really suitable for bedrooms unless you have very small kids.  I decided to turn one of them into a pantry.

I bought the refrigerator last week to supplement the small “dorm sized” one the landlords supplied.  It’s an AEG model and so far, I’m pretty pleased with it.  It’s a good size for two people and gives us a  better place to store all the things that take up too much space in a little fridge.  We put all the magnets we collected on our many trips on that fridge.  I caught one of the neighbor kids looking through the window at them.  😉


The shelves I bought years ago at Rose’s.  They are very sturdy wood and fold out conveniently.  I usually use them for books, but we didn’t bring many books to Germany on account of our 5000 pound shipping limit.  They make a great place for my china and some dry goods, along with bakeware that doesn’t fit in the kitchen cabinets.  And you can also see the obligatory twenty pack crate of beer…

I bought this handy little cart from  The top opens up so you can store stuff under it.  There are two drawers, room for wine storage, and space under the rack and drawers for other stuff.  The wheels make it easy to move.  Although this cart is pretty heavy, I think we’ll probably take it back to the States with us.


The vacuum is a Dirt Devil.  I’m not all that happy with it because it has a design flaw.  The on/off button is on the side of the machine, so if you accidentally run into the door or something, it shuts off.  Also, the head isn’t powered, so it’s not that great for carpet.  Luckily, we don’t have much carpet in this house.

Another shot of the shelves.

The other small room we’ve turned into the trash sorting room.  In Germany, you have to sort your trash by what it is.  It’s not just putting recyclables in a recycling bin.  It’s separating paper, plastics, metals, biodegradables, and residual trash.  That means having just one trash can isn’t feasible.  I don’t mind separating trash, I guess, though I really need to find a single trash can with several compartments in it.