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Centraal Station Around Here!

It is absolute madness around here.

We’re talking sheer bedlam.

So much noise and commotion that it’s hard to think, let alone write.

Except that I have deadlines to meet, places I’d like to go, people to see.

Oh, and a ton of laundry. Which is a royal pain because the washer/dryer are on the 3rd floor. With Dutch houses being tall and narrow, we’re talking 16 stairs to each level. While maintaining careful balance. My own ‘stair climber’ exercise routine, lucky me.

Son is home sick with fever, aches, terrible sore throat.

This past Saturday we awoke to find that the heat wasn’t working. The house still retained much of the warmth from the night before, and temperatures outside were brisk but rising.

So we weren’t in danger of freezing to death. Once we had determined the situation wasn’t life-threatening, we resumed our usual scramble to get breakfast on the table and then head out the door for Daughter’s early morning voetbal game 30 minutes away.

Except that first I had to take a shower. Which turned out to be freezing, due to the aforementioned heating problem. Seems the actual culprit was a faulty water heater.

Do you know how cold water is when it isn’t hot? Cold.

Not lukewarm. Damn cold. Almost freezing cold. (The only thing keeping me from claiming it was freezing cold is the lack of actual ice.)

But fully aware that lots of people have it much worse* on a daily basis, I told myself to just suck it up and get on with it. Shortest shower I’ve taken in years.

When we returned a few hours later, Husband poked around and announced that he’d reset the water heater. Mind you, (and I believe he will publicly attest to this) neither of us was born with the ‘handy around the house’ gene.

I didn’t even know it had a ‘reset’ button, and apparently neither did he.

Within minutes water started leaking down into our 2nd floor water closet. What seemed to be rather copious amounts. Never a good thing.

I quickly called our very nice landlord; by the time he arrived 20 minutes later, the leak was down to a Chinese water torture drop rate. He was followed in rapid succession by the plumber and the painter/plasterer. Who says you can’t get Dutch service/repair people on a weekend? Apparently not a well-connected landlord.

(The plasterer/painter was called in to view his role in fixing the water damage. But our landlord wisely realized that this was the perfect time to go through the house and make arrangements for tackling the ‘honey do’ fix-it list that always seems to crop up at the least convenient time.)

We’d taken steps to avoid seepage/damage to the panty closet beneath, which was a plus. The plasterer/painter had to cut two square sections out of the ceiling in the water closet to help the plumber determine the source of the leak.

The landlord left forty five minutes later, followed in succession by the other two gentlemen.

I’d like to report that all is well. Not exactly. While the plumber finds no problem with the water heater (?!), he isn’t entirely sure where the sudden leak came from (?!?!). Mind you, this is the same water heater that had a burned fuse back in January.

Obviously the landlord has no interest in arranging for the repair/painting of the water closet ceiling if there’s a chance for a repeat of the whole drama. Husband and I can’t say we blame him. Not interested in a repeat, no sir.

So today we have the painter/plasterer and his trusty sidekick here doing repair/painting of the two bathrooms [note to Americans: bathrooms have the showers and regular-sized sinks, water closets have the toilets and tiny sinks].

Kindly landlord is here checking up on the workers, and probably me as well to ensure I provide the requisite koffie met koekjes at the proper time.

(Does he think I’m an amateur? Natuurlijk I knew enough to email my etiquette inquiry to my Dutch friend K last night. I’m set for the coffee with cookies at mid-morning.)

It seems we will be without the services of one of the bathrooms for 24 hours. Okay, fair enough.

But the two gaping holes in the wc ceiling? I’m told it’s the Dutch equivalent of ‘open-ended.’ Why am I not surprised? We’re expecting a wave of visitors in a few weeks, and there’s no reason to expect that everything will be neat and orderly by then.

In the meantime, the contents of two bathrooms are spread throughout various rooms. Paint dropcloths are strewn about. The noise and commotion continue, punctuated by Oli’s periodic barking. The poor thing is a frantic wreck trying to keep up with who is where, doing what. I’ve given up on answering the door bell, so the front door is currently ajar.

I’ve already scratched two days worth of hard-won appointments. (The men must return for Day 2; they’re claiming they’ll be done, but I fear a Day 3 is in the cards.) Son needs a bowl of soup. And another load of laundry beckons.

Did I mention that I’ve got deadlines looming?

*Whether you’re disposed to praying or not, please do so for everyone in Japan. It is frightening from halfway around the world. Can’t imagine living it. Same goes for the folks in Christchurch NZ, and Egypt/Tunisia/Libya/elsewhere in the Middle East, Haiti — oh hell, just pray for everyone in this world of ours. Seriously.

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