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Voila! The new village toilet offers a new pot to piss in!

… I just hope it doesn’t become a place for sharing more than neighborhood gossip…

A few days ago, much to my amusement, the guy who runs our neighborhood Facebook group shared photos of the brand new public toilet that was erected in, and now proudly graces, our Dorfplatz here in Breckenheim. If you’ve been following this blog lately, you know that building this toilet has been a long and painful undertaking, and it hasn’t been without controversy. Last fall, a radio host even tried to ask me what I thought of it, but decided my opinion was irrelevant when it became clear that I’m not a local. The local reactions to this seem to be varied. Some people love it. A lot of people think it’s… shitty. Bwahahahaha! I am getting a kick out of all of the reactions and snarky comments translated from vernacular German.

The first summer we lived in Breckenheim, we had biweekly wine stands in the Dorfplatz. It was a great place for everyone to commune together and bond over the region’s star product– WINE! But then 2020 happened, and there were no wine stands or other community events. Then, last summer, a crew of men came in and took down the kiosk, from which all of the fundraising events were operating. I was sad to see the cute little kiosk come down. At the time, I didn’t know about the big plans for the Dorfplatz, and had no clue it was going to get its very own toilet! I was surprised when I found out, but now I know the reason. It’s so people don’t have to use the Rathaus toilets or go home to answer the inevitable call of nature during community events. I stopped to take a picture of it today, and noticed that it costs 50 cents to pee there. No need to hire a Klo Frau, after all…

Edited to add: I see that our local leader has said the toilet will be free to use. A free public toilet is something to behold in Germany!

Earlier this week. The powers that be are very proud of this new development, although not everyone is a fan.

Not for nothing, though, it’s taken forever to get this work done. The Dorfplatz has been fenced off for months, making the trash can harder to access. People have been putting trash in the can anyway, and it wasn’t always getting emptied, because it was behind a temporary fence. I noticed today, the whole area is open again. All that has to happen now is getting rid of the port-a-let that’s been in the Dorfplatz for weeks. I think getting rid of the port-a-let will be a huge improvement. Hopefully, this toilet will stay nice, but having seen them in other places, I have my doubts. However, I can also say with certainty that there have been many times when I have been very grateful to find one of these when I’m out and about. I like the ones that can be “stored” underground and brought out for special events. That was probably cost prohibitive, though… and Breckenheim doesn’t really warrant it. It’s just a little suburban village, after all.

I read that they’re going to rebuild the wine stand kiosk right next to the new toilet, which seems quite large for the space it’s in. I have an image in my head of people buying glasses of wine in one building, while others process it in a similarly sized adjacent building. Below are a few photos of Breckenheim’s latest upgrade, as well as a few pretty flowering trees in my neighbors’ yards. I’m impressed by how fresh and beautiful they are, in spite of the heat wave we’ve endured this week.

Of all of the things I’ve observed since our move to Wiesbaden, I think the great toilet debate has been the most entertaining. I will also admit that I wasn’t expecting this kind of toilet. I don’t know why I wasn’t, since they’re all over the place in Europe. I think I expected something more conventional. I will also note that there were many times when we lived in Jettingen that I wished for a toilet when walking my dogs. I had to pee in the woods a few times. 😉 But the woods are in much shorter supply in these parts.

Anyway, now there’s a place to pee, and soon we will have wine stands in the right place again… and weekly farmer’s markets, too! I look forward to having a farmer’s market we can walk to. We already have a grocery store and a “kwik mart” near us. As I have mentioned more than once, you get trade offs when you exchange country living for suburban living. Maybe someday, we’ll get vending machines with local produce, too. One can always dream!

In other news, today we will get a visit from the chimney sweep. In Germany, it’s legally required to have one’s chimney examined every year. They leave little notes on your door telling you when they’re coming over. We got one this week. It’s a good thing we were home. Our last house didn’t have a fireplace, but we still got visited by the cleaner, who had to check out our heating system and make sure it was safe. Here, we have a beautiful fireplace, and thanks to the war in Ukraine, I suspect we will be using it a lot more this year.

Props to my clever German friend, Susanne, for supplying this funny clip about Schornsteininspektion… 😉

Don’t know what we’ll be doing over the weekend. I’ve been sick all week, but I feel better today. And I am in need of some fun… so hopefully, we’ll find some and I can return and report.

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chores, German culture, Germany, staying home, Sundays

Our busy week of upgrades leads to a boring weekend of downtime…

It’s German Unity Day (Tag der Deutschen Einheit), which means it’s a holiday. It’s also Sunday, and kind of rainy outside. Yesterday, it was also overcast and chilly. Bill and I decided to stay home and rest yesterday. We’ll probably do the same thing today.

I always feel a little bit guilty on the weekends when we can’t be bothered to do anything, particularly when we didn’t do anything the weekend before. A year ago, we went on an epic whirlwind journey to Slovenia to pick up Noyzi, our Kosovar rescue dog.

I would have liked to have done something exciting this weekend, too. Pretty soon, the weather will definitely be crappy more often than not. But we had a very busy week. For one thing, our upstairs bathroom got a huge upgrade, and that took a couple of days. For another, poor old Arran had to have another surgery to take off some crusty, itchy bumps that I’m afraid might be mast cell tumors. And again, there’s that pesky rainy weather, which in the age of COVID-19, doesn’t lend itself to going out and about. Bill has been hard at work on an exercise, which has kept him busy and preoccupied. I’m mostly over last week’s virus, but still a little tired.

I am really excited about our newly renovated bathroom. When we moved into our current home, it had been awhile since the shower and tub had been used. The water in Germany is famously hard, and the fixtures on the tub and shower were probably original to the house. Consequently, we could not turn on the cold tap on our shower at all. The faucet on the bathtub leaked all over the floor. Our first week in this house was hard, because we had to bathe in the tub, which would leak water from under the faucet when we ran the taps. The water leaked outside of the tub and got all over the floor.

Our landlord got the shower fixture changed out very soon after we moved in. It took much longer to get the tub fixed. Part of the reason for that was because Bill was reluctant to talk to him about the need. He was still a bit traumatized by our last renting experience. But he finally talked to the landlord over the summer, and sometime in late July, the landlord brought over his plumber to see what needed to be done. Much to our delight, he was fine with fixing the tub fixture and even decided to put in a new rainfall shower head for us.

We had to wait two months for the plumber and his assistant to have the time to fix up the bathroom. Apparently, there’s no shortage of work for plumbers in Germany. They came on Wednesday and worked most of the day. The landlord came over to see the progress and I got the bright idea to show him the lime covered fixtures in the downstairs hall bathroom. It wasn’t as bad as the tub was, but it was also leaky. He said “No problem,” told the plumber, and after they had lunch, they fixed the downstairs sink, too!

Below are a few photos of their handiwork:

As the plumber was working, he asked if I’d like for him to move the shower head to the corner of the stall. I was all about that, since the previous shower head, which dripped and had lots of lime on it, was situated to the middle of the wall. We would get water on the floor every time we showered. Now that the head is moved further back, there’s no more after shower mess. Plus, that new head and its matching sprayer are just really excellent! Hopefully, I can somehow keep it free of buildup, although it’s way too high for me to reach.

I don’t usually take a lot of baths, but I had a sachet of Molton Brown bath salts that I lifted from our stay at the Upper House in Gothenburg, Sweden in 2019. I decided last night was the time to use it, and try out the tub. It was so nice! I even got to shave my legs!

Needless to say, I thanked the landlord profusely. He also had a new garage door opener put in a few weeks ago, because the motor on the one we had was shot. When Bill pointed it out to him, the landlord said the opener was probably as old as the house was. He decided to get a new opener for his house, too. We were both remarking at how much quieter and nicer the new openers are.

Don’t get me wrong. These were repairs that desperately needed to happen, and they should have happened much sooner than they did. But it was just so nice to have them done to a good quality, and without being yelled at or blamed for anything. It’s nice to have a landlord who wants us to be happy and doesn’t just do cosmetic repairs, but fixes things that will make our living conditions better. And, given how much we pay to live here, it now feels more like we’re getting our money’s worth. In any case, the upgrade in the bathroom is a huge morale booster.

In other news… I have been looking for a place to spend a few days as 2021 starts winding down. I used to be so much more into trip planning and going on outings, but I’ve found myself less enthusiastic lately. I think I’ve got a case of the blahs, in part because COVID makes things more complicated and annoying. Even just going to a restaurant is an ordeal. And everything is encouraged to be done outside, which is less appealing as the weather changes.

Bill has been working so hard, and there’s so much that needs to be done. Last week, he had to get the windshield replaced on my MINI, because there was a crack in it that finally got too long to pass inspection. Before getting the windshield replaced, he had to deregister the car and get temporary plates put on, because our registration expired while the car was in the shop. It’s all fixed now, and ready for the the plates to be put back on, but first he has to go back to the inspector and get passed. So that’s something else that has to be done. Arran will be getting his latest stitches out on the 11th.

Anyway… there’s a chance we’ll do something this afternoon, but I kind of doubt it. It’s so dark and cloudy, and I doubt either of us will feel like putting on real clothes. So maybe we will, maybe we won’t. At least I can take a great shower, though, and not get water everywhere! Maybe I’ll read up about how 31 years ago today, Germany finally reunited with the East and became one country again. I’m sure it will inspire me more to read about that than the very divisive attitudes so many people have in the United States right now. Or maybe I’ll just play with Noyzi and marvel at just how far he’s come since he joined our family last year!

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housekeeping tips

Wet basement…

For the third time since we moved into this house, I have awakened to the sight of a wet basement.  For some reason, water backs up into our washing machine.  Twice, the landlords have had a plumber come out and check the pipes for blockages.  Nothing was found either time, other than toilet paper and the other stuff one finds in the toilet.  We moved here in September.  This happened for the first time in December and again in February.  Now it’s May.  We were told they never had this problem before, but I’m beginning to doubt it.

I took these photos after I drained the washer.  The drum was full of warm grey water from my husband’s shower.

I had noticed water seeping from the wall a couple of days ago.  I told Bill about it and he said he didn’t want to tell the landlords because they have to call a plumber and that costs them money.  Yes… but I am the one who usually finds and cleans up these messes.

I don’t know what is causing these problems.  It’s a major pain in the ass.  I fear whatever is wrong is going to involve a big repair which is never a fun thing.

ETA:  Hopefully, a plumber will be able to fix this today.  Otherwise, we’ll be having a shitty weekend.

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anecdotes

A crappy day in Germany…

I have had one hell of a crappy day.  What really sucks about my crappy day is that I was looking forward to the weekend, hoping to have some fun.  My husband, Bill, has been gone to Chad all week and I’ve been by myself, hanging out in our rented home with my two sweet but occasionally irritating hounds.  I really need to get a life and make some friends.

Last week, I was sick with a cold and I’ve been dealing with what I think is a very weird gum abscess.  It doesn’t hurt, but it’s worrisome and annoying and has caused a little swelling and bleeding.  I need to have it looked at, but we don’t have dental insurance yet… it doesn’t kick in until January 1.  Add in the fact that I am very neurotic when it comes to my teeth.  I have two baby teeth that may be about to give up the ghost.  I expected them to– they are 42 years old and have served me pretty well.  They seem to be rooted well, too.  But the idea of possibly needing an extraction or two and the expense, trauma, and pain associated with that does nothing for my mood.  And once those teeth come out, it’s time for implants.  What fun.

I got a visit from Aunt Flow a couple of days ago, which is always fun.  It’s even more fun when your plumbing is on the fritz.  This morning, I went downstairs to do my laundry and there was a bunch of standing grey water in my new washing machine.  I immediately assumed something was wrong with the machine.  My husband bailed the water out, then went to take a shower.  While he was showering, the drum in the washing machine filled with more water.  That tells me there’s a blockage of some sort in the house.

So we called the landlords and they came over to help us.  There’s water all over the floor.  My dogs are going crazy.  I’m feeling neurotic about my teeth and I’m on the rag.  We finally got the washing machine going to the point at which we got the laundry done, but it wasn’t without a big mess and inconvenience.  The homeowners will call a plumber on Monday because there’s a leak in the pipe and the drain probably needs snaking.

I’m still feeling very cranky and grouchy…  the mail carrier comes by.  She looks a lot like my mom.  She has a package for me, a star I bought for our big Christmas tree because the one I have on it is a 110 lighted one from Target.  I’ve been waiting awhile for this thing to arrive.  It didn’t cost much.  Looking at the address on the envelope, I see why it’s taken so long to get to me.  The star came all the way from Hong Kong.

I open the package and this is what I see…

This thing is even more disappointing in person than it is in the photo.

 

It’s made of cheap plastic and there’s no way to stick it on the tree.  It’s sloppily and incompletely covered with glitter.  And it’s just a sucky product.

 

I showed it to Bill and he said, “It’s like the equivalent of the Charlie Brown Christmas tree.”  He asked me if I wanted to put it on our other tree (we have two because the first time we were in Germany, I forgot to pack our tree and got another one that is small).

I said “No, we can just put it somewhere and make fun of it.”  That comment made him laugh.

So, in review, I’ve got residual snot from a cold to get rid of.  I’m on the rag.  The plumbing is messed up.  The washing machine may also be messed up, though we did at least get the thing going enough so we have some clean underwear.  I have dental problems and no insurance until January 1… and I’m not in enough discomfort to go to the dentist and pay entirely out of pocket.  At the very least, I suspect I need some antibiotics and knowing that, I keep checking my teeth and gums for signs that I need to get to a doctor urgently.  That has made the side of my face sore because I have to contort my lips in order to see and I’ve done it enough times to cause muscle fatigue.  I wanted to have some fun this weekend, but it looks like that’s not in the cards.  I can’t take a shower because of the plumbing.  And I’ve been listening to my dogs bark all day.

Stuff is just piling up.  I know these are minor first world problems, but they are still very irritating and have spoiled my mood.

Last night, we visited The Mad Scientist for dinner and ran up a respectable bill.  I had my usual stuff for dinner, but finished up with my very first taste of Metaxa, which is a Greek brandy.  It sort of tasted like brandy mixed with sherry.  It tasted good and no doubt made our Mad Scientist friend happy that I ordered it.

Metaxa in the glass…

Metaxa in the colorful bottle…

 

I need to have some fun soon.  At least I’m not in any pain, though.  On a positive note, Bill did bring home some macaroons from Paris.

These are yummy!

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