Keeping House on the Road

Our good friend, Robert Hinton, arrived from England last night for a brief visit with us. He and John, along with Flat Stanley, are having a boys-day-out while I hang around the apartment today enjoying some time alone and attending to a few housekeeping duties.

One of the things I like most about life on the road is that nothing is mundane — not even keeping house. Dwelling in an apartment abroad is an experience in and of itself.

John and I typically rent one-bedroom apartments. We specifically search for rentals that have “amenities” like…a washing machine, a fully equipped kitchen, air conditioning, WiFi, etc. We also look for an apartment conveniently located near public transportation as we seldom rent a car. (Ireland cured me of any desire to drive outside the U.S. Dodging people driving 70 mph on curvy, country lanes the size of sidewalks will do that for you.)

Our home-away-from-home here in Istanbul fits the bill. Like most of the apartments we’ve rented on the road, this one has some distinct differences from what we’re used to back at The Gulch.

For example, the meaning of “fully equipped” kitchen varies by country. Here’s our kitchen. Notice anything missing?
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No oven…not even a toaster oven, although there is a very nice metallic-blue toaster. I am grateful, however, that this kitchen is equipped with a fully functional dishwasher as I do clean-up after Chef Longino flees the scene of his latest crime..errr…masterpiece.
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Speaking of testosterone, did you know that it leads you to believe orange sweaters can be washed with whites? Either that or those with an abundance of the hormone secretly long for peach underwear. Consequently, doing laundry is a chore I gladly undertake on the road. Besides saving my clothes from irreparable harm, it always catapults me back to a time before clothes dryers. You know, that period in U.S. history after George Washington and right before The Beatles broke up?

I have very fond memories of helping my mom hang our laundry on a clothes line in our back yard. My job was to hand her the wooden clothes pins. Nothing smells better than sheets dried by a sunny, summer breeze. Even a Yankee candle can’t capture the freshness of that smell.

But, I get ahead of myself. First, you have to wash the clothes. Outside the USA, this means putting our very large clothes in a very small washing machine like this…
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which is located, as they often are in wee European apartments, in the bathroom. Figuring out how to turn it on and select a wash cycle and temperature can be interesting when you can’t read the language.
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Thank God for icons and Google Translate!

Once done…you’re ready to hang them out to dry. Here’s my latest load, racked and sunning on the small terrace off our bedroom.

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Our neighbors, more permanent residents, have better drying capabilities. I’m jealous, but have successfully smothered my desire to keep up with the Joneses — or “Joneses yetismek” as they would say in this neighborhood.
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Yesterday, before Robert arrived, I took the time to vacuum the floors and clean the toilets of which there are two in this apartment. Toilets and floors, that is.
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See that teeny-tiny, light blue thing beside the commode? That’s the trash can. Put a Q-tip in it and it’s half full.

But our shower in this apartment is rather large by European standards. Often, they’re about half this size which isn’t a problem for munchkins, Europeans, and American children under the age of 12.
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And this little water heater, also located in the bathroom, keeps plenty of hot water coming…
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Are you starting to appreciate how McDonald’s french fries aren’t the only thing super-sized in the USA?

Central heating/air is standard back home, but not so abroad. Radiators like these populate every room.
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I’ve learned they can alternate as clothes dryers on rainy days.

If the apartment you’re renting has air conditioning, it looks like this…
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Otherwise, you fling open some windows and pray for a breeze that smells like fresh laundry hanging on a line.

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