Thursday, March 26, 2009

It all runs hot and cold


So, since I last wrote, we've been to the fire store where we had to purchase a big piece of fireproof stuff and from that piece, cut a smaller piece to replace what had fallen down from the top of the fireplace.

Then we had a smelter (iron guy) come out to the house and poke around inside the firebox with a measuring tape.

Then we had assistant smelter come today and take a piece of metal and stand out in the driveway and pound it into the needed shape.

When all was said and done, I created fire.


The dude from punkt arrived with our new refrigerator yesterday. First he took out the old one, then he had to shut off the power to fix the bad outlet wiring the fridge was to connect to, then he brought the new one in. It was a wee bit too deep for the space so then Ole and the fridge dude rigged up a few little boards so that it had something to stand on and slid it into place. We then had to wait 2 hours for refrigerant and oil to slide themselves back into place after transport, and then Ole flipped the switch and created cold (and ice).

Once we turned it on, we scanned the operation manual. It's not that I don't know how to use a refrigerator, per se, but you never know what tidbit of information you may find. It's always good to make sure you've read the Troubleshooting section of the manual, just in case things start blinking or beeping. And, in case this should happen:

1) The Appliance does not work.

- Is the a power cut?
- Is the plug inserted properly in the mains socket?
- Is the power supply cable damaged?
- Is the temperature setting correct?

Okay, no, it doesn't actually say that but the picture is for real.

And there you have it - we have hot, we have cold, and we don't have children hanging from our refrigerator door.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Warm Milk

When you think of warm milk, you probably think of comfort. That special cup to help you sleep, or a warm chocolate milk on a cold winter's day.

But all warm milk is not good. Particularly warm milk found on a Monday morning inside the refrigerator. This is not warm milk you wish to find and this is definitely not the warm milk you want to drink! But, it's exactly what we found this morning! Yes, our refrigerator decided to die. It gave up. It's not like we ever gave it too much to do really - a few cartons of milk, some iced tea, jar of mayonnaise and some cheese. But I guess all of that was just too much to handle - perhaps my gallon jugs of iced tea did it in.

If you're in the US, then for you, your choices of refrigerator look like this selection (thank you, BestBuy):

However, here in Denmark, your choice of refrigerator looks like this:

In fairness, it IS possible to purchase a side by side model - they call them "Amerikanerskab", and they run anywhere from $2000 to $6000, depending on what features you'd like your American refrigerator to have!

So today at lunchtime, we made a quick trip to punkt1 in Herning to see what they had. We googled first, of course, because that's what computer people do - google everything first. They had one in their netshop on sale but we definitely wanted to see it in person, so off we went. They didn't have that exact model in the store, but they did have the 'beer' version. It's a similar model, but it has a big huge beer tap on the front of the refrigerator, and a spot inside to apparently place a small keg. Ummm, no, we didn't get that one!

One thing that I definitely wanted, and one thing that is NOT standard in Denmark, is a frost-free freezer. It baffles me that it's not standard and that every refrigerator on the market these days isn't frost free, but I guess that the frost-free variety is not as energy efficient and selling appliances in Europe all comes down to the magic letter. And in this case, it had to be either A or A+. I wonder how 'energy efficient' it is to spend a day scraping the ice off the freezer. I don't see anyone touting it as the 'new' way to exercise!

We did end up purchasing the one that was shown online and the nice folks at punkt1 are bringing it over to us on Wednesday.

In the meantime, we're defrosting the current model because, while the refrigerator itself died, the freezer just kept on trucking. Everything has been moved into a cooler and is sitting on our terrace - it's a bit odd to go outside to get a glass of juice! And, for once, I am happy that the Danish weather has decided to hover around 40 deg F!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Crisis in Karup

It's a very good thing that spring is on the way. But, it would be helpful if the air would warm up just a bit faster.

You see, we have one of these:

We use this to heat our house. We do have radiators in various rooms, but we don't turn them on as it's cheaper to buy briquettes or wood for the 'brandeovne' and use it instead. But, now we have a problem:

See those random items in front of the fireplace? Those are supposed to be IN said fireplace. That twisted hunk of metal is supposed to be holding up one single top plate, which, as you can see, is now two pieces of top plate.

Now, if you remember, there was a guy here to inspect all of this before the season began. And, while the pieces were still in the fireplace at that time, the metal was nearly as twisted at that point as it is now - it just did a better job of holding up the top piece. Flash back a few months to this conversation:

Me: "Er det ok?"
Firedude: "Ja, det er det"
Me: "Ok!"

Obviously, det er ikke ok! On Saturday morning, it all collapsed into a pile of rubble. And so we started searching the web to see if we could find replacement parts. No wait, actually, we started by holding a mirror and flashlight behind the fireplace while attempting to read the label to determine who the manufacturer was and what model it was. YOU try reading a german label backwards in a mirror. I spelled out, letter by letter, the biggest word I could find, only to have Ole finally say.. "oh, that just means fireplace" - argh!

We finally figured out that the model was called Nevada. The "grass is always greener" product naming strikes again. What is it about European manufacturers naming everything after American cities/places and American manufacturers naming everything after European cities/places?

Anyway - then we googled things. Lots of things. Ole's googling was going much better than mine since he could at least attempt the various danish or german names for things. The 'nevada fireplace' that I googled didn't work so well.

What we found, after an hour or so, was ... not much. We think we found a similar model so we think maybe we found the right manufacturer - not that it matters any as it didn't help us in figuring out where to find replacement parts.

Long story short - I turned on a radiator or two - and Ole's gonna 'call a guy'. So, hopefully we'll just be able to get some new inserts and won't need to get an entirely new fireplace!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

This Sucks!

Having pets mean that I have a certain obsession with vacuum cleaners. And, little patience for vacuums that don't actually do what they're supposed to do! Due to the difference in voltage, upon leaving Washington, I had to part with my beloved Dyson Animal upright vacuum cleaner. That piece of purple plastic was a very good friend to me and I was so sad the day I sold it on craigslist, but part with it I did. Frankly, I would've brought it and attached it to a voltage converter but I was told that wouldn't work with a vacuum cleaner - pooey!

Prior to my arrival in DK, Ole had already moved into our new house. He had an extremely old vacuum that definitely needed to be replaced. So, my mother-in-law had purchased a new vacuum for our house, made by Melissa. Who's that? Well, Melissa is a good friend of ours. Basically, if there is a small household appliance on the market, Melissa will make a copy of it, slap her name on it, and sell it for 10% of the price of a name brand item. We often stop at the Melissa pile at Bilka to see what new things she may have come up with. Melissa's appliances are just perfect for those little things you want to own that you think you absolutely MUST have, but that you'll only end up using 2 times a year... The sun-lamp that was supposed to chase away the winter darkness blues (if you bother to plug it in and turn it on and have 10 minutes to stare into the bright lights), the mini-blender you purchase because it's just so darn cute and could be handy (if you ever cooked), the pet trimming kit that you'll use to trim the fur between the dogs pads (if the dog will let you get within 2 meters of said paws with said machine in hand) - you get the picture. That being said, Melissa's version of a vacuum? Not cutting it, or more accurately, not sucking it.

We had a few DK gift cards amongst our wedding gifts so I thought purchasing a new vacuum would be the perfect use of the cards! Off we trotted to Inspiration (or was it Imerco, or Kop og Kande - can't remember) to admire all the vacuums available. Most were beyond what our gift card could afford, and an actual Dyson was WAY WAY beyond what our gift card could cover - but there, sitting on the shelf, was a pretty, sleek, ice gray vacuum that looked like it may just do the job. It was bagless, and like every other vacuum in DK, a canister vac. If you prefer upright vacuums, you're out of luck in this country - they do NOT exist. Anywhere. The vacuum was made by OBH Nordica and it went home with us. I was so, so, so excited. I proceeded to vacuum every floor I could find with even a speck of cat hair on it. I was in love.

And then, I wasn't. My love for this vacuum ended the moment it stopped sucking. Oh sure, it made a good effort, but despite it's claim of cyclone technology, it had a stupid design. It contained a filter that cat hair could just cling on to, a filter impossible to clean off, a filter that couldn't be changed, a filter that was plainly and simply - completely faulty design. Pooey!

And so the begging began. Please, please, please let me buy a Dyson. All the problems of the world could be solved with a Dyson. It's the wonder vac - the vac of all vacs. My pleas were met with a scowl. NO WAY were we going to spend that much money on a vacuum. Men. I don't care that a Dyson in DK is listed at a minimum of 2800 DKK ($560) - must have Dyson!

As time went on, we added a dog to the 4 cats - a dog that dropped more fur than 4 cats had ever shed, and still no decent vacuum. I stomped my feet, but it did no good. Men. Then, one morning, Ole was scanning the local weekly paper, and there, in the corner, sat a little notice. A local appliance store was selling off all their Dyson floor models for under 1000 DKK. It would be first come, first serve. It would begin at 9 AM on Saturday morning. We, would be there.

I feared that people would sleep there the night before to be first in line. I feared we would miss out on this great chance. I was a bundle of nerves and excitement - I was trying to control my excitement just in case we weren't there in time and missed out. We arrived at the store at approximately 8:30 AM. There was no mob, just a neat, orderly line of approximately 15 people queued up in front of us. I guess Danes don't do the whole sleep out, stampede the store, thing. Either that, or most never saw the notice in the paper, or they didn't know what a Dyson was and how it could change their lives. Or, Danes just don't have that much dirt.

At about 8:55, a gentleman came out of the store and told us that the vacuums were in one area in the back of the store and that he would go ahead and open the door. We followed the orderly queue into the store and then GOOOOOO... people were quickly snatching up those vacuums. There was no time for browsing - I wanted the biggest one that was available, but for fear of losing any possibility of ANY one at all, I put my hand on a smaller model and started carrying it around while scanning the room to see what else was there. My man redeemed himself. Ole strolled over with the DC-19 - the big one. I loosened my grip on the little model and allowed another lucky being to stake their claim on it. I had my Dyson. My perfect vacuum. My savior in the world. The ultimate fighter of cat and dog hair, and whatever else may be on our floors.

I spent that day vacuuming every floor, ceiling, door jam, and surface. There was not a speck of anything left to be sucked. There was peace in Karup, DK. The rejoicing began.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Doggie shoes and elephants

So, what have I been up to?

Last weekend, off we went to the hundeskov as usual, and after about 10 minutes there, we saw that we were following a little blood trail through the snow. Unfortunately, that trail of blood was coming from Zoe's back toe - she had cut open the pad on her pinkie toe and it was bleeding quite a bit. Without being able to study the damage there and not wanting it to get any worse, we cut our trip short and headed home.

We washed out the paw as well as we could and then attempted a makeshift doggie bandage to give it some time to heal without getting any dirt in it. We wrapped the paw in some bandages and then put an old sock on her foot. But between Zoe running around and Lexi thinking that thing on Zoe's foot must be a new toy, the bandage didn't last long.

At that point, we decided that perhaps with all the salt they put on the roads here, it was time to give in and purchase a pair of doggy shoes for each pup. We weren't sure what sizes to buy so we only ordered one pair for each dog until we could see how big, or small, they actually were. The shoes arrived Wednesday. I put the shoes on Zoe's back feet, she kicked around for a bit, and then settled in - I think she realized they were actually quite comfy with the fleece lining and all.

Lexi was another story. I decided to test hers on her front feet and in doing so, witnessed possibly her funniest doggy moment to date. Promptly after having her shoes put on, she kicked up both feet, then attempted to walk. You know the old russian military footage where they kick the foot straight out before setting it down - Lexi could've joined a marching band the way she was strutting around here! I was doubled over in laughter. When I finally settled down, I removed their shoes for the time being. But now, if a bandage becomes necessary, or if the roads are freshly salted, we're covered!

So that's the doggie shoes. As for the elephants...

Ole is sitting at his computer and just muttered the phrase...

"Damn elephant, you're supposed to sprinkle fairy dust."

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