Aug 15, 2009

Lost Diaries 7

On Stairs, French and Dutch;
Sitting in the Parking Garage;
and Walking Sticks

To me, one of the amazing things about this trip has been how different things are in Europe compared to things in the United States. For those of you who have been faithfully reading my observations, you by now know about the mysterious 2 and 4 ring binders and the half and full flush commodes. Following this past weekend’s trip to the Netherlands, a few more things have jumped out at me and I will now provide a commentary on those items.

Stairs: It seems that the French have a minor obsession with spiral staircases. In practically every building we have entered, including hotels, apartment buildings, and shopping malls, all staircases are built in the spiral style. I cannot figure out if the French have determined this to be the most efficient use of stair space, or if they just like being dizzy all the time, but I am taking the elevator (or “lift” as they call it) whenever I can. In the Netherlands, the staircases were thankfully not spiral, but they were treacherously steep. We are talking glorified ladders, here. The Dutch stairs make the murderous steps at Donald’s trailer look user-friendly. It is that bad. Mom and Grandma Crane would never make it. Neither would Grandpa, since the steps are so narrow that you can barely get your toes on the edge, much less a human-sized foot. And there is practically no overhead clearance. Damon spent the entire time stooped over like Ichabod Crane.

Hot….heat…sizzling…sweltering….sweat….I think I see a mirage of a snowcone out of my apartment window. We were promised that we would be able to move on the 20th to an air-conditioned apartment, but were told last Friday that it would be an additional week until one was available. So now France and perhaps the rest of the known world is in the middle of a heat wave, and we are stuck on the 5th floor of the apartment building (which would be counted as the sixth in the U.S.; Europeans count the ground floor as 0…how dumb…0 means nothing and therefore floor 0 cannot exist) facing the relentless sun with no AC. The temperature is 90, and I am not even sure what the heat index is, but we have the supreme misfortune of being on the side of the building where the sun goes down, so in the hottest part of the day the sun in beaming right into our room, and you can either leave the windows and curtains open to get a breeze and a sunburn, or close the curtains, protecting yourself from the sun but also from the breeze. I am always so cold that I never thought I could get too hot, but France has introduced me to new levels of temperature induced misery. Yesterday when Damon left for school he left me an assignment…search out a cool place where we could hang out and he could study without the distraction of sweat dripping onto his books. I left the apartment soon after that to try to find a restaurant with “le climatization,” and on the way I stopped by the parking garage to take out the trash. When I arrived in the underground concrete garage, I had a brilliant idea. Being underground and composed of concrete, the garage is a veritable wonderland of coolness. I think cellars are what people used for refrigeration in olden times, and I can see why. I decided that if push came to shove we would go underground. Well, my survey of the mall produced the results that very few places are air conditioned, and the places that are would not really welcome two random people hanging out studying the law for 4 hours. So, when Damon got home, I told him my plan, and we took our chairs from our room and smuggled them down to the garage for Study Fest 2005. We both cooled off for the first time in days, and it was great. The only problem is that the garage lights are on a timer, so every 2 and a half minutes we had to turn the lights on again. Then, when we tried to go back after eating dinner, the lights would not come on at all, so we had to switch garages. What have I become? A subterranean heat refugee, that’s what. Please don’t judge me until you live with no air. I hope you never reach such dark days.

Okay, following that confession, the last thing that I would like to comment on is the way that French people use canes. We have seen many people, old and young alike, who are getting around with the aid of walking sticks, but they do not use traditional walking sticks like Grandma’s. No, their sticks have a handle, but also an additional plastic thing that comes up and provides a support for the elbow as well. We see people with one of these to help them walk, or using 2 like crutches. I have not seen even one traditional cane. Damon says that he thinks that might be a better idea, actually, since instead of putting all your weight on your hand you are distributing it to the rest of your lower arm. Please let me know if you would like me to bring back a French walking stick for you.

That is all for now, but I will continue to observe the strange happenings in this foreign land and report them to you.

1 comment :

Unknown said...

We had a lovely time coming up with a team name this evening. Nathan and Nathan spent HOURS calling people to get the best name. They finally decided on "Burnt Gold" since Nathan S. loves LSU and Nathan F. loves Texas. (Get it...purple and gold...burnt orange...) Anyway, here are some of the other options...
1. The Wise Men
2. We Three Kings
3. You Can-oe It. (like You can do it.)
4. What's Canoe with You? (like What's new with you?)
5. Paddle, Peddle, and Pant
6. Biking Buddies (but that sounded like a fruity bike gang)
You can only IMAGINE how funny it was trying to pick one. They went with the one that carried that least shame. :)
Also...where did Damon get your breast pump? I knew he found a good deal, and I need to buy one for a shower. I found one for $225, but let me know if his was a better deal.
Ok...enough typing...going to enjoy a little Tropical Storm Claudette breeze.
Love you all!!!!!!!!!!!