Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Summer 2014 photo scavenger hunt

Yes, I could have looked for one of these earlier, but as it's just now come up on my friend Wendrie's blog, I'm just now seeing it. Maybe I'll do it. Some of them I would have been much easier in Germany (such as garden gnomes!) In the meantime, here's just the list:

1. A sign welcoming people to your home town (or a nearby town)

2. A garden gnome

3. Birds on a wire

4. A group of tourists

5. A rack of post cards

6. An urban street scene

7. A rural landscape

8. A tattoo on a person

9. A bakery

10. A photo bomb (someone found lurking in the background of photo; the lurker may have intended to disrupt the picture or may be doing it unintentionally, but the background lurker is a surprise to the photographer)

11. A horn

12. A mascot

13. A sunrise

14. A parade

15. A juggler

16. A sign in a language other than English

17. A lamp post

18. A water fall

19. A public garden

20. A bus (not a car, truck, lorry, camper or RV) with a picture painted on its sides.

21. A photograph of you with something representing the season (recognizing that the season will be Winter for our friends in the southern hemisphere). Note: you may not use a substitute for this item.

If you find something on the list too difficult, you may substitute one of the following items for anything on the list, except for Item #21:

Alternative A: A kite, hot air balloon or blimp
Alternative B: A bird house

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Friday driving

I drove over 46 kilometers yesterday, and was never at any point further than four kilometers from home.

9:40 a.m.--Left for the hospital to visit Jörn (which should be the topic of a whole blogpost, but I can't quite bring myself to go there yet: summary is that he had two heart attacks, one "minor" (myocardial infarction) and one "major" (heart arrest), and is fine now, but not home yet), stopping at the Esso along Faneromeni to get petrol (gas). The 40-liter tank took 43.15 liters, which is even better than what I got in the other car a few days earlier, 56.37 liters in a 55-liter tank.

10:00 a.m.--Arrived at hospital and spent a lot of that fuel looking for a place to park, and even found a semi-legal one.

12:00 noon-ish--Drove home.

1:30 p.m.--Drove the something like 300 meters to the Italian ice cream place across from So Easy, because before I'd left for the hospital I'd told the children that if the broom and Marie's swimsuit got found, I'd take everyone to ice cream. I do not DO bribes like that. But it had to be safe, anyway, because we'd all looked everywhere for the broom, and Marie and I had looked everywhere for the swimsuit. Except that we hadn't. The broom was found IN the clubhouse outside, and the swimsuit was found in a red cloth bag stuffed into the cupboard of the toddler toy table, which we really should get rid of, considering that the youngest child turned four 10 days ago. Marie walked and Jacob rode his bike to meet us at the ice cream place. Oh, and I just remembered that I borrowed a 10-Euro bill from Elisabeth (without her knowledge) to pay for the ice cream, so I need to return that.

1:50 p.m.--Left Elisabeth with most of an ice cream cone and Marie, and let Lukas, Katie, and Helen get back in the car with narly-finished ice cream cones and drove them to their swimming lesson, getting there JUST before 2:00. One would think we were Germans.

Drove home.

2:40 p.m.--Was able to leave Elisabeth home with Jacob so that I could continue using the red car and took Marie with me to collect Lukas, Katie, and Helen from swimming lessons, then dropped Marie off at LCC for band practice at 3:00, then came home.

3:20 p.m.--Was able to leave Katie and Elisabeth home with Jacob while I took Helen to her drama class; Lukas came along for the ride.

4:25 p.m.--Took Lukas, Katie, and Elisabeth and picked up Marie from band practice and took her to Makenzy beach for the end-of-year party that had started at 3:00. (In the meantime, Jacob had taken his bike to go to HIS swimming/life-saving lesson 4:15-5:00, and he went from there to the beach party. Marie would be willing to take her bicycle, but it needs repairing, and neither she nor I know how to do it and Jacob has been saying for six months that he'll do it, but hasn't. And yes, I know, Marie and I should just learn. But we haven't.)

4:50 p.m.--Arrived at Helen's drama class, which often puts on a "show" in the last 5-10 minutes, and I often miss it, and that often upsets her, so I made an effort to be there on time. No show this time, but Lukas, Katie, and Elisabeth got to participate in the last couple of games.

5:00 p.m.--Drove to the hospital and got to see Jörn.

5:45 p.m.--15 minutes before the actual visiting hour started, we left again. We stopped at the pharmacy and I left the children in the car while getting Joern's prescriptions filled. While waiting, I walked across the street to the bank and checked our balance, was pleasantly surprised, and took out cash, because we get a hefty discount at the pharmacy if we pay cash and because we have six children.

I let Lukas walk home and we drove the couple of hundred meters home. Lukas was collected around 7:00 to go to the Prayer House, Jacob appeared around 7:30 or 8:00 to eat dinner, then went out again to watch a World Cup game with a friend, and Marie was spending the night at a friend's house. Not feeling up to wrestling the three girls into bed by myself, I just didn't. My friend Bekah came by at about 8:00 for an hour, and after that I was calmer and did put the girls to bed.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Cyprus plumbing and construction...part six

Really, this should TOTALLY be finished by now. It's not. But maybe, just maybe, the "plumbing" part is. Maybe.

Several times since my last post, I was going to update that everything was fine now...but by the time I got to the computer, something else was leaking. I think everything is fine now, but I'm not holding my breath.

It already feels like it's been a lot longer than three weeks since this all started, but that is all it's been. Three weeks ago today was the day the plumbers were supposed to start work, three weeks ago tomorrow is the day they actually did. And my last post was about February 19th, which is already two weeks ago, and everything should have been finished by then. But it wasn't.

That evening, the toilet was rather wobbly, and there appeared to be water leaking from underneath. I had lost every bit of patience with Mr. George's plumbers, so I tried phoning Barry, an English plumber recommended by Richard. When he didn't answer, I texted, and eventually got a response back, that he was in England. So then I texted my friend Mary and asked if her extremely practical husband, Ken, was bored and wanted to fix up botched-up plumbing jobs. He showed up Wednesday morning (February 20th) and had a look at everything. He wasn't too impressed with their method of fixing the toilet down: lots of silicon, and nothing else. So he first of all took it off, then tried to figure out where it was leaking.

Nothing seemed to be leaking at this point, so I decided maybe it was just spilled water and my paranoia, and he drilled holes to fasten the toilet down with screws...and hit the hot water pipe, which ran directly under where one would normally put screws. Maybe the original plumbers knew that, and that's why they didn't fasten it down? Nah, I doubt that they thought that far. Anyway, after a lot of fiddling around, Ken repaired that leak, fastened the toilet down, and moved to the next job: connecting the dishwasher.

Not that we use the dishwasher (a totally different topic, and I think I may have even said that before...), but several years ago, we DID pay 70 Euros to have a major hole drilled from outside to inside and have the dishwasher connected. (It's outside, on the kitchen terrace, connected to the water supply in the laundry/shower room.) And we might use it again some day, or get another dishwasher, or whatever. The point was, the plumbers had not returned it to it's original, useable state. As far as Ken could tell, they'd melted a not-very-round hole into the drainage pipe, stuck the drainage hose from the dishwasher into it, and covered it with silicon. When it leaked, they put a whole bunch more silicon on it, up to an inch thick. So the first thing Ken did was take the drainage hose out and repair the pipe:

In the meantime, there had of course been more communication with Mr. George, and on Friday, the 21st, he and someone else came by to look at everything, in particular to discuss how to cover the floors in the bathroom, laundry/shower room, and kitchen terrace. While they were there, and we were all standing in the bathroom, Lukas pointed out that the bathtub tap was quite crooked.
 I said that that really didn't matter, and that Lukas should stop interrupting, but Mr. George only picked up on something being said about that tap and asked if it was leaking. I said, "No...oh, actually, I don't know, I haven't even checked." Because of the wet paint on the wall, even the little girls had all had showers, not baths. So I tried to turn the tap on...and water came out when I turned the right-hand faucet, but not when I turned the left-hand one. Here's a close-up of their brilliant job:
 Mr. George said plumbers would come on Saturday, the 22nd. They didn't. (This is getting rather repetitive...)

However, Ken did, and he is really wonderful at explaining things to children (Lukas in particular) who hang around and ask lots of questions:

One thing we discovered while Ken was there was that in the original repairs, the plumbers had switched the hot and cold water around! Not that it really matters, and normally, cold IS on the right and hot on the left, so now it's standard. Although the fixture is something rather less than standard. In any case, water was now running through it, so we left it.

What Ken did do was then put on an appropriate way to drain the dishwasher:


 Not the most standard or most elegant, but at least working.

He also let me take a photo of him as he was leaving and gave me permission to post it: Sunday, there was a LOT of water leaking from under the toilet, definitely coming from there, and dripping downstairs through the ceiling again, too. I turned off the hot water, and it was less, and on Monday (February 24th)  I texted Barry, knowing that he was getting back from the U.K. that night, asking him to phone me if at all possible as soon as he got back. He did so around 9:30 that night, Tuesday he came and looked at everything, and on Wednesday he arrived at 9:30 and worked for four hours. (Incidentally, I'd had several phone calls and text exchanges with Mr. George over the weekend and at the beginning of the week, and on Tuesday, he said that his plumbers would come on Wednesday. We said no, we didn't trust them, and he finally said okay, if they weren't there by "8:00 or so", then our plumber could start work. Jörn was a bit concerned about how we would handle it if Mr. George's plumbers DID show up, but not at all to our surprise, they didn't, so there was no issue.)
In the meantime, Ken had also come and taken the cistern off the toilet, but said he had no further ideas, so at this point we had no hot water, and were flushing the toilet with a bucket. Which I am absolutely totally fine with when camping or when living in a place where that is the norm...but I do find it a little annoying when living in Europe (even if it's the Middle Eastern end of Europe), where all the modern conveniences are standard, and where I am paying market rent.
Barry took the toilet off again, and determined that there was ANOTHER leak under the one which Ken had made drilling a hole, and the repair hadn't held. So really, it was good that Ken had caused a bigger leak when trying to fix the toilet to the floor, because the other leak was so much smaller that it could have gone a long time without being noticed. (I don't remember any more which one was hot water and which one was cold water.)

Finally, everything was put back together, AND Barry cleaned up after himself.

The toilet still isn't bolted or screwed to the floor--it's now fastened to the floor with cement. That doesn't seem ideal to me, but it's been five days now, and it's not wobbling even a tiny bit, so that's certainly better than what we had before!

We decided that the faucet in the bathtub wasn't ideal, but nothing really needed to be done, but he did switch the blue and red rings. I'm still not sure if we should use the bathtub, with all the paint peeling off of the wall...

And when I asked Barry about the pipe outside, he said, "Oh, I already did that." I hadn't even noticed. He said that yes, the correct part is more expensive than the part they had used, 6 Euros rather than about 3 Euros, but that it's a pretty stupid thing to attempt to economize on.

Once Barry had left, I texted Mr. George that it had been done, and that we would take the 150 Euros out of next month's rent. Not that we've paid this month's rent yet, nor do we intend to until the floors are taken care of. They've talked about putting "something plastic" (I'm guessing linoleum?) down, but I'm rather nervous about what kind of a botched job they'd do with that.

I was finally going to get around to blogging all of this on Sunday...when we found water all around the toilet again. I dried it all up and locked the bathroom door from the outside, so that we could determine if it was connected to anything in the bathroom actually being used, and when I checked later, there was a lot of water on the floor. So I turned off both the cold and hot water to the house, dried it all up again, and kept watching it. More water appeared, but considerably less, and it eventually stopped. So all day yesterday we flushed the toilet with buckets of mains water carried from the kitchen, and washed hands and brushed teeth in the kitchen. I did text Barry, but didn't phone him, as it was still early-ish, and then I decided to wait until today, to see if I could determine at least whether it was cold water, hot water, drainage water, or the toilet itself leaking. It at least wasn't drainage from the toilet, which was certainly good!

This morning I turned off the water supply to the toilet and turned only the hot water on: no leaks. An hour or so later, I turned on the cold water: no leaks. After another couple of hours, I turned on the water to the toilet, and discovered the problem: a leak from the cistern itself. It's in a totally awkward place to try to see, but feeling around, there was some kind of screw or nut that was loose, so I tightened that, which made the dripping less.

At this moment, the water to the toilet is still turned off. Because of the wet paint (yes, WET paint, that was applied nearly THREE WEEKS did dry, but every time it gets wet, it's possible to rub off the color again, so it's certainly not waterproof, and obviously not appropriate for a bathroom floor!), I can't dry the area completely, so I'm waiting until it has air-dried to turn the water supply to the toilet back on, so I can tell if I tightened whatever that was enough.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Cyprus plumbing and construction...part five

Nope, still not the final installment. Sigh.

So Tuesday morning my friend C and her husband T came over and had a look at everything. I kind of lost track of how many times T asked, "Why did they do it THIS way?" "Why did they use THIS connection?" etc. The plumber did NOT arrive at the agreed upon time of 10:00--normally, I'd never expect them to, and lack of punctuality is part of the culture and I'm not generally bothered by it...but after the past week, it wasn't taking much to annoy me, and seeing as C and T had come over TO meet with the plumber, not to mention that I was actually supposed to be leaving the house at 10:00, I was irritated. After yet another phone call to Mr. George (I don't have the phone numbers of my husband or children or any close friends memorized, but I do have Mr. George's telephone number memorized now...), the plumber finally arrived. He didn't even greet us, just walked through the house into the laundry/shower room. We followed him, and after glances and shrugs at each other, I was very glad when T stepped forward and started discussing things with him in Greek. We showed him all the leaks (after my post of the day before, I'd found a couple more--I think there were seven or eight altogether?), and when T asked him why he'd done such-and-such, he said that it was because he wasn't paid enough.

This was one of the leaks that I found while looking over everything with T, before the plumber arrived: according to T, that black connection is the wrong kind for the white pipe, and it was dripping quite a bit. This is the supply of the water for the whole house, from the tank on the roof. (Edited to add: this is actually only the HOT water supply.)

So the plumber asked if I would be home and said that he would fix everything. Marie and Jacob were here, with Katie, and Jörn was at his usual Tuesday morning art session and had taken both Lukas and Helen, so I headed to Sue's house as usual on Tuesday, although nearly an hour late and only with Elisabeth. I tried again and again to get a decent photo of Sue, Elisabeth, and Sophia (the cat), but this was the best I managed:

I had quite the text exchange with Mr. George while there:

"Did they come?"


"Please tell them all your trouble with the pipes. The rest I will handle them."

"I had a friend to explain things in Greek. The plumber said that they did things the way they did because they weren't paid enough."

"He is saying (explicative) you know. They were paid as you know even before they finished. They were paid as much as they asked. So Mrs sheilla you know the truth"

"I'm not blaming you. I think they did a bad job because they're bad plumbers. I suggest you don't hire them again!"

"Of course I will never give them a job or recommendation"

I'm not sure I was entirely honest about saying I didn't blame Mr. George...I do, partly, but he's only the mediator for his aunt, who owns the house, and who doesn't ever want to spend any money, so he told the plumbers to do it as cheaply as possible. However, I found out later that they were paid TWO THOUSAND EUROS for this job! So skimping on a correct connection which probably costs a couple of Euros is obviously absurd, and it WAS planning for Mr. George to pay them before they were finished.

After Elisabeth and I left Sue's, I finished cleaning their guest flat, which is where we had stayed for a week, and while we were walking home, Jörn phoned. He said that the plumbers were gone, Marie and Jacob didn't know anything, and the toilet wasn't attached. I of course took a photo as soon as I got home:

More phone calls...Mr. George said that a new toilet was going to be installed. Eventually, someone else showed up, carrying boxes with a toilet, a tank, and a new seat. He commented that he hadn't seen the house for 10 or 15 years, and I asked if he was also a relative of Mrs. Panaiota, and he said yes, he's Mr. George's brother. He's "in the renovating business", but had been very busy on another job, which was why he hadn't been able to oversee this one, and he was very sorry.

Anyway, the plumbers didn't show up again until about 5:00 p.m., and then the new toilet didn't fit. Lots of phone calls back and forth, and eventually another toilet was delivered. We heard banging, etc., while we were having dinner, they went in and out the front door multiple times, and then...we realized that they were gone. The toilet was installed and water was working, and they'd left quite a muddy mess all over the bathroom floor and down the hallway to the front door:

At this point, we discovered that the phone and internet weren't working, so I texted Mr. George yet again: "The plumbers left without saying anything! Is everything fixed? Can we use the toilet? Can we use the washing machine?" He texted back "I tried to find you but nobody answered the home phone. He suggest we wait for tonight for the toilet so the glue dries. Only this. He said everything is ok" I don't understand why he didn't phone one of our cell phones, since he obviously has the numbers!

In the meantime, Helen HAD already used the toilet. I didn't (still don't) know if "wait for tonight" meant wait some certain number of hours until the evening, or not use the toilet overnight, or what. I just told everyone to sit very carefully. We'd been using the toilet in the guest flat all afternoon, which is fine during the day, but not very practical for the middle of the night. (Not to mention that the light bulb in the guest flat bathroom is burned out AND the fluorescent tube in the guest flat kitchen is flickering horribly, neither of which I knew about before.)

So in the mess of the bathroom we have a shiny new toilet:

And, I noticed later, a shiny new tap:

Nothing in the bathroom is visibly leaking, nor is the shower anymore, and the other leaks in the laundry room and outside had only happened while using the washing machine, and I haven't used it again yet. All they did, as far as I can tell, is squirt on a whole lot more silicon. I didn't go outside last night to see if the pipe outside is still leaking, nor have I been up on the roof yet to check out everything up there.

And of course, all the painted concrete floors still need finishing of some kind, so no, the adventure isn't over...

Monday, February 17, 2014

Cyprus plumbing and construction...part four

This was supposed to be the happy ending, all done, everything working. It's not. We moved back into our house today. We maybe shouldn't have.

Friday morning I wrote three posts about the first three days of our plumbing saga. They'd repainted that morning and said that there was nothing else to do. Friday, it was hopefully ending. Mr. George had called and said everything was finished, and I went over after lunch to check it out.

Except for it being a bit odd having white stripes everywhere, the kitchen terrace certainly looked much neater:

Well, until one looked closer and saw some more cat prints...

The shower was dirty, but the tiling seemed neatly done, and with a brand-new drain. No idea what the board leaning against the wall was for, though:

The connection under the bathroom sink to a new drain hole looked somewhat sloppy, and I wasn't impressed with the use of flexible hosing and silicon, and the paint was soaking wet, but naively, I was still believing that they knew what they were doing:

I went back to the flat where we were staying, and Jacob stayed to use the computer in the peace and quiet of the empty house.

A little after 3:30, it started absolutely pouring with rain, and then hail, and with a lot of wind. I got the very nearly dry laundry inside, then took a photo out the front door of our car, and the street running with water:

A few minutes later, my phone rang. Jacob was calling to tell me it was raining. Yes, I'd noticed. Then he explained that the kitchen terrace was completely under water and the paint was floating all over the place. Jörn called Mr. George, and he and a plumber showed up at the house to discuss things. I've kind of lost track of the order of things. At one point (before the rain, I think?), while Marie and Jacob were both in the house, the plumbers and/or construction workers and Mr. George had been there and had all screamed at each other, running from room to room and finally storming out of the house and to their respective cars and driving away. Then this scene was repeated when Jörn met with them after the rain. In the bathroom, Jörn pointed out that the paint on the floor was wet, and the man argued that it was dry. Finally, he scraped the paint off and said it was fine now, we could move back in, and Jörn said no, it was WET, we could NOT move into the house and have small children here. So then the guy grabbed a roll of toilet paper and sopped up a bunch of water and said NOW it was dry!!

Later that evening I took a photo of the bathroom floor where the paint was scraped off:

And while I was at it, I took a photo of what was left in the laundry room:

Saturday and Sunday I didn't take any photos. I came and checked on the paint often, and it was still pretty wet, but photos of wet paint aren't much more exciting than watching paint dry. Although come to think of it, it WOULD have been nice to have been watching paint dry, considering that what we did all weekend was watch paint NOT dry...

This morning I checked, and the paint on the kitchen terrace was dry, although rubbery and easily scraped off (like silicon or rubber cement), as on the bathroom wall. The shower wall was still wet, and I discovered that the handle was dripping. The paint on the floor in the laundry/shower room was still very wet. The paint under the bathroom sink was dry-ish, and the floor was of course dry, because the paint had been removed. This afternoon I called Mr. George and he and I looked at everything together. I showed him the dripping handle, and also that the bathroom sink tap was dripping, and that even the dry paint easily rubs off. He said yes, he knows, they did a bad job, but there's nothing he can do because he already paid them. HE ALREADY PAID THEM???? Personally, I think that shows a distinct lack of...forethought, at the very least. Anyway, we discussed what to do about the bathroom floor (he wants to retile half of it with a tile-high step running across the middle of the bathroom. I said NO. We're still considering options.) and he said that at this point, we should just wait for everything to dry, and next week they will come and re-do the paint, which will dry quickly if the concrete is dry. I said that that is maybe okay for the walls, but NOT for the floor. He's still thinking about things.

So anyway, this afternoon, in the middle of all the other regular Monday activities (Elisabeth's drama class was cancelled, at least--she loves her class and I love her class, but it was helpful today not to have it, not to mention also helpful that Lukas, Katie, and Helen had a party at Discoveries, so were gone for two hours instead of one and a half), we moved back into the house. And...I put on a load of laundry.

And...I decided to check to see if there was water leaking anywhere. There was.

Water all over the laundry room floor, AND outside on the kitchen terrace, and NOT coming from the washing machine. (That is, the water had been in the washing machine and back out, but it was not coming directly from the washing machine and not a fault or problem with the washing machine.)

So I looked under the sink in the laundry room and saw this:
 Water was dripping out of the "connection" (sorry, but I'm not a plumber, but sticking flexible tubing into another pipe and slathering it with silicon is NOT, in my opinion, a proper "connection"...), AND squirting out of a pipe in the back (not visible on the photo). The dishwasher (which we don't use, but that's beside the point) was partly hooked up, and it appeared that water was coming out of the part of the sink that would/could connect to the dishwasher.

Outside, there was dirty water everywhere, quickly covering more and more of the terrace:

Closer inspection proved that for the drainage from the dishwasher, they'd cut a hole into the drain pipe from the laundry room (that's the vertical black pipe below) and stuck the dishwasher hose in and coated it with, yet again, silicon. It doesn't show up wonderfully on this photo, but those grey drips below the grey pipe are not bits of dried silicon, that's actually the water squirting out.

While I was taking these photos, a child came to tell me that the toilet was leaking. I went and had a look, and of course took another photo:
That white milky-looking stuff around the base of the toilet is coming from UNDERNEATH the base. And the whole toilet is wobbly.

I texted back and forth with Mr. George. The plumber is coming at 10:00 tomorrow morning. I also messaged with a friend on Facebook whose husband I don't really know (I've met him twice, I think), but I do know that he speaks both Greek and English and is very practical and knows lots of things about construction and plumbing and such, and she said she thinks he can probably come over tomorrow morning, too.

No idea when the final installment of this saga will be...

Friday, February 14, 2014

Cyprus plumbing and construction...part three

Finally up to Thursday, the third day of chaos. At some point on this day, I suddenly realized that I was, in a way, experiencing a certain amount of culture shock, something unusual for me. If we'd known in the first place that we'd have to move out for several days, I would have been much less stressed with it all, and there wouldn't have been all the encounters with the workers saying "Today! Today!" because of the culture of just wanting to say positive things. I'd been to the house in the morning to open it for the plumbers and had had some disagreements with them before I ever had breakfast, and there were quite a few telephone calls back and forth with Mr. George.

It was wonderful going to Tots with Helen and Elisabeth and escaping it all for a couple of hours. (It did amuse me greatly when one mother said, "What?? You're staying in a flat with only one toilet?? No wonder you're having the teenagers stay someplace else!!" At home, we only have one toilet anyway. Well, when we have one at all...) Back with everyone else...not so wonderful. We are of course VERY grateful for this place to stay, but the children are used to playing outside a lot, not to mention having a lot of space even inside the house to spread out. Marie has had her own room for three years, and Jacob and Lukas for over a month now, Jacob is upset about not being able to bike ride or walk much (he hurt his leg a week ago, another topic), and Jörn and I were both very upset about what was going on at the house and not being overly patient with anyone, so nobody was handling the being on top of each other very well.

After lunch (well, I think I actually left DURING lunch...) I went over to the house to check on things, get some clothes, and of course, take more photos.

They had painted the concrete (which had been poured the day before and was very obviously NOT dry) with something that's supposed to be waterproof and approximate tile.

While I did think it looked fairly awful, aesthetics just aren't one of my worries. For the most part, if things WORK, I don't care much how they look. But then I noticed this:
 There were also some cat prints, but cats are CATS: they don't know where they shouldn't walk! (I do hope that this stuff doesn't hurt them if they licked it off of their paws...) But the workers who were DOING this?? Shouldn't they know better than to step in wet paint??

They'd retiled the shower, at least, which looked decent, although the floor outside of it didn't:

And the toilet and bathroom sink had been returned:

But the paint on the floor was very wet, and it looked to me like there was water standing on it, although the worker I asked about that insisted that it wasn't:

They'd cleaned a little bit of the concrete off of the bathtub tap:

But not off of the shower hose:

And outside, above the door to the flat outside, they'd put the drain pipe for all the water in the house!
It wiggles easily with just barely touching it, so aside from looking horrible AND the fact that I assume that every time anyone flushes the toilet there will be a lovely rushing sound through this pipe, I'm concerned that it can be easily damaged and the odds of getting a very disgusting leak are very high.

Lukas and I then watched with amusement as they came to pick up the leftover sand. They discussed which side of the crane for picking up the skip to use for picking up the bag of sand, and then backed a pickup truck under it. Lukas and I then spoke German with each other so as not to be TOO rude (just in case any of the workers understood English or were paying any attention...) as we noted that the way the pickup truck was standing, the side of the crane NOT holding the bag was going to bash into the cab of the pickup truck. They did notice it, however, suddenly shouting "Stop! Stop! Up! Up!" and after much more discussion, re-parked the pickup truck at a different angle so as to avoid the problem:
 They then took the skip, nearly taking a tree out with it, again, a problem that Lukas and I easily anticipated and giggled over, while the four men working on this didn't notice until it nearly happened.

A few hours later, Jörn and I went to see how it was going. They had re-attached the dishwasher (which we don't use, but that's a different topic), and put it ON TOP OF THE WET PAINT!!!!

Sliding it around had made quite a mess of it, and the paint was STILL quite wet.

We then went into the bathroom to be told "Oh yes, you can move back in now, the toilet is fine," despite there still being STANDING water on top of the paint on the floor. More arguing, more phone calls with Mr. George. He phoned the plumbers and phoned me back, saying that they said that the paint would dry in one hour and they had waited two, so everything was fine. I was so upset, that I even started speaking to HIM in Greek, despite his good English. I suppose it's quite a compliment to me that he even answered me in Greek. Still, it doesn't matter how long the paint is "supposed to" take to dry, if it's wet, it's WET. Even my three-year-old understand that. Finally, it transpired that if applied to DRY concrete, yes, this paint should dry in an hour, and the workers hadn't understood that it would take longer if applied to WET concrete.

When we got home, I was still fuming (it was kind of funny, because I'd spent the first couple of days telling JÖRN to calm down...), and he pulled me into the bedroom and closed the door (a very cool thing about the flat in which we're staying: our bedroom has a door! At home, we just have a curtain) and...showed me a stash of hidden chocolate! There are lots of reasons to love this guy, that's one of them. :-)

This morning (Friday) I opened the house for the plumbers again, and noted that all of the paint from yesterday was still extremely wet. And at 7:50, they started painting it again. They claim it will be dry in "one day." At the moment, I don't believe anything they say.

Cyprus plumbing and construction...part two

Wednesday evening, while playing a game with Sue, Richard, and Tim, one of them asked or said something about my parents leaving, something like, "Did your parents departure go well this morning?" I said, "Yesterday, but yes, it was fine." It took the three of them and Jörn a few minutes to convince me that it HAD been that had been a very, very long day. (And I'd also fallen asleep while putting Helen to bed, so, well, I HAD slept again, so surely it was another day??)

So Wednesday morning, Jörn went over to our house to await the plumbers, and I piled the three girls, my parents, and my parents' luggage into the car. (They didn't have so much themselves, but they also had two suitcases from my brother, since my brother and his wife and daughter are moving back to California next month.) Then we went to Dena's house for my parents to say goodbye to Jacob and Lukas. While they were saying goodbye, though, Jörn called that the plumbers had arrived, so then Jörn picked up the boys and met us at the airport. Marie had already said goodbye the night before.

Jörn then went to work and the children and I went back to the flat. Konstantin took Helen and Elisabeth to the playground and Jacob went back to the house to work on his Coursera (free on-line classes from universities around the world) classes, and I did something approximating schoolwork with Lukas and Katie. (I think we read several chapters of Naya Nuki, and one of them maybe did math??)

The plumbers had told Jörn that we could move back in that afternoon, that the toilet would be done and we would have water. After lunch I'd gone over to talk with them (but couldn't find the camera...I'd put it somewhere too safe) and they kept insisting that it would be done, but I was extremely skeptical by this time. At 3:30, Jörn and I went to the house again (by which time I'd found the camera) on the way to our Greek class, and I took more photos and had more arguments in Greek with the plumbers. They'd laid new pipes and filled it all in with concrete, right up to the level of the tiles!

The shower was still a mess:

The toilet was still in the hallway:

The bathtub was a mess:

There were still piles of construction material on the sidewalk in front of the house:

And the man was insisting that that they would be finished TODAY, that the toilet would be fine, that we could move back in!!!

Finally, one of the plumbers/construction workers who spoke more English admitted that they were trying to hurry so we could move back in, but really, it would be better to wait. I said that he should PLEASE not hurry and do a bad job, but take the time they need and do it right. He seemed very relieved.

Apparently, he understood the "not hurry" part, but I really don't think that ANYONE understood the "do it right" bit. After our Greek class, we went back to see what had been done and lock up the house.

That morning, Lukas had remembered seeing pink tiles in the attic (a crawl-space above the laundry room and bathroom into which nobody bigger than Lukas will fit, but he'd explored it a few times...) and we'd gotten them out, so the workers used those for part of the bathroom floor, putting them in very badly, not to mention that they hadn't even taken OUT all of the tiles that they had chipped:

The bathtub tap was covered in spilled concrete:

The tiles were crooked in three dimensions:

And there were cat paw prints in the concrete on the kitchen terrace (okay, that's not really the fault of the workers, and I wonder whether these are prints of Makenzy or Connie, two very confused cats at the upheaval in the house).

That wasn't all we found...Marie, who had been over during the day to use the computer and bake a cake (not for us, though), had decided to add her own mark:

That evening we distributed teenagers again (Jacob to Panos's this time) and Lukas got the sofa bed, as we got the master bedroom.

And Sue, Richard, and Tim came down and played a game with us, the only relaxing time of the entire day.