Two things that help in learning Dutch are a good sense of the history of the English language and a very large English vocabulary. So much of this sounds like something Caxton might have published: ei for egg (remember his “eyren”?) and “Wit U weel” for “Do you know” (Wit ye well that Arthur is right-born King of England?” I’m starting to be able to pick up a few words in conversation; at the moment my pronunciation is lagging behind my comprehension, at least my reading comprehension. I think eventually I’ll be able to speak Dutch better than I can understand others, as well as to read much better than I speak. At least that’s what happened in Spanish. It’s mostly a matter of not quite being able to work in real time.

Between my being off work for another week and the smaller size but sparkling modern style of our apartment, it still feels like I’m playing house, which results in somewhat better housekeeping on my part than usual. (We do have a cleaning servicce provided, though. Not sure playing house would extend to scrubbing bathrooms.) The kitchen is gorgeous, with light-beige cabinets and black marble counters, but somewhat lacking in actual appliances. No freezer and a tiny refrigerator. This is fine while I can go shopping any time but may be a little tricky once I start back to work – though since I’m shopping either on foot or on a bike, I wouldn’t be buying large quantities anyhow. We haven’t cooked much because we have no real oven , just a small combined microwave/convection oven/grill. This may work well for all I know, but the instructions are all in Dutch and the symbols aren’t all that clear, so I’m figuring it out slowly. I finally got microwave popcorn down, by the third bag. Also, there will be no turkey dinners prepared in this kitchen these holidays due to lack of capacity. Think less Foghorn Leghorn, more that small chick who keeps outwitting him.

Any of you who visit, don’t be offended if we don’t cook for you!

The bathroom is extremely nice. No bidet (I was hoping to finally figure out just how to use one) but we have two sinks in the main bath, a distinct lack in our previous house. Multiple full bathrooms seem to be quite uncommon here, but newer apartments and houses like ours do at least often have a second half bath. In our case, it has a standard toilet but the smallest itty wee sink I’ve ever seen. I figure 1.5 baths is sufficient; very rarely in my life have I suffered because of a desperate need to get into the shower immediately. Speaking of showers, we have a separate shower and tub. The tub is sized for a Dutch person, so it’s lovely, long and high. The shower is small eneough to make shaving legs a little awkward but otherwise very nice: clear glass walls and a short of shower tower that can do overhead (lots of water, good pressure), a body spray or a handheld. Both the shower and bath have a genius feature I haven’t seen in the US: instead of one control for hot water and one for cold, one controls flow and the other lets you set the actual temperature. No cold surprises. Oh, I should also mention the toilets. This is a water-saving feature that’s common here and we’ve also seen it in Australia and New Zealand but never in the States: there are not one but two flush buttons, and you choose one or the other depending on whether you want a big or a little flush. Very sensible.

We also have a nice large laundry/storage room, and we’ve finally mostly figured out the washer and dryer – the washer actually has a manual section in English! but the dryer has no manual at all. Both are smaller and take much longer than US equivalents, but they get the job done … eventually.

It’s a very comfortable place to live, and I think a few of its lacks may just be due to cultural differences – that is, differences in what a renter is expected to provide. We may still get a small freezer, for instance, and we did go buy some drawers and shelves from Ikea that made clothing storage much better. It’s also much better looking – better decorated – than our old house ever was. Modern’s not really our thing, but all our knickknacks are back home anyway, and the shiny newness and the two black walls and white couches do help contribute to the whole playing-house thing. And fof course there’s the fantastic location. Rudder picked it without me along, but really I can’t see how he could have done better.

(Yes, one of these days I’ll get some pictures up.)