Saturday, June 27, 2009

June 27, 2009: Polar Bear Club Anyone?

Ugh. Someone with some awful karaoke skills is torturing my ears right now. There is this bar across the street from our apartment. It is this particular bar and our windows that have made me realize that a highly skilled architect designed our apartment to 1) act as a wind tunnel - a window open on the first floor will cause all other doors and windows on the third floor to shut with a bang and 2) take all sound coming from the street and surrounding areas and amplify it as though it were booming through a load speaker into our bedroom windows. But that isn't really the point of my blog. I just wanted to bring you into the life and times of city livin' in Caen as a blogger blogs.

On to my point (but not any more important, mind you!). There is not much new around here. The other day I noticed that the hot water heater seemed to be acting funny. A red light was on and the water was not heating but nothing was making loud beeps or blinking, so I thought it couldn't be a deadly issue. I made a mental note to ask the apartment manager about it sine day (adding it to my list of 5 other things) and proceeded on with the day. Later in the day I tried to start making dinner and the stove top burners would not light. Click click click click. No fire. So now I have decided to call the water heater dude and ask what might be the problem. Much to Andrew's dads surprise, the water heater dude has agreed to come within the hour. Yes, here in France they actually work later hours and don't charge you extra after 5 pm!

Just before the water heater dude arrived, Andrew got home from work. I explained to Andrew that the water heater would not light and that the stove would not light. Mystery, still, to us all. Finally the water heater dude came. He took a quick look at the water heater. He tried to light the stove. He then proceeded to ask if we had paid our gas bill. To my knowledge, yes, we had paid it. I asked Andrew, and he said yes, all of our bills are on automatic bill pay. Despite this very confident answer, Andrew accompanied the water heater dude down to the gas meter, only to find it newly fitted with what I would describe as something similar to a Chicago Boot for a car, only for a gas meter. Our gas meter got the boot.

Now, I assure you that us Haverkampf's pride ourselves in being prompt bill payers. On time, early, prompt. So you can imagine Andrew's frustration when he realized that he had never set up a gas account for us and had never once paid a gas bill since living in the apartment. You might be wondering how that is possible, to not realize that you haven't paid a gas bill in 4 months and I can't say that I really know the answer other than he really thought it was getting paid each month out of our bank account. And he came to realize quickly that despite his best intentions and planning upon arrival in France many months back, he never set up a gas account. And this is the reason the gas company booted the gas meter and cut off our gas. This happened on Thursday and today is now Saturday. Andrew had made many phone calls and then asked a co-worker to make some phone calls on his behalf and has now been given the possibility of gas this coming Monday. Cross your fingers.

Such are the perils of living in a foreign country where you don't speak the language. Sure, Andrew has made great progress with his French skills in the past few months. But when he first arrived, he was running on Rosetta Stone fumes and a few phrases learned from French audio tapes. So it is no wonder he might have missed one or two important things in the moving in stages.

A few weeks ago I was telling Ella about going to camp and how fun it was as a child. I told her about Camp Lutherhaven in Indiana where I went for many summers. The reason the topic of camp came up was because I was teaching the girls songs I learned at camp and they were asking me how I knew all these songs. And most songs I know are from camp or elementary school. She then asked me what camp was like and about friends I made and activities I did and what it was like to sleep away from home. I told her about going in the out door and out the in door and having to kiss the "moose" when that happened in the cafeteria. I told her about joining the Polar Bear Club, which is basically getting woken up at the crack of dawn with a bunch of other crazy people and jumping in the freezing cold lake each morning. I told her about how it is so important to be one of the first people awake so you can get a nice warm shower - otherwise if you are one the last the water is cold. She liked all of these stories and all of the songs I knew. She can't wait to go to camp!

So, I can't help but draw a parallel to the very cold showers we have been taking here at the house to the Polar Bear Club and the cold showers at camp. We have Suzie and Peter here and it is bad enough that they have to take cold sponge baths or showers. Andrew and I can quickly shiver our way through a cold shower. But the girls are none-to happy about cold showers or baths. To help ease the problem, I bought a portable induction stove top burner. I use it to boil some water to add to a very shallow pool of cold water in the bathtub and also to make grilled cheeses, etc... for meals. The baths are still cool, but they seem to manage through a quick bath. I am hoping that we really get the gas turned back on Monday as told. But in anticipation of one or two more cold baths in the meantime and the need for a little motivation, I plan on making all of us certificates that make us lifetime members of the French Polar Bear Club. Except instead of a cold lake at the crack of dawn, our wet welcome is a chilly yellow bathtub.

On another note, Suzie is still ill. I have never seen Suzie sleep as much, eat as little, drink as little or talk as little as in the past 4 days. She did manage to come out to dinner tonight with us while the babysitter took care of the girls. But I could tell she still wasn't being herself. What a bummer, huh? I bet a nice hot shower would make her feel much better...

1 comment:

  1. Sorry Suzie is still sick....tell her I hope she feels better soon.

    Now maybe Ella can go to camp Danby on our lake in the Berkshires! We would love to look after her!! It's a very cool camp!

    Hugs to everyone!!