Friday, August 29, 2014

Like a Virgin

I tend to share a bunch of links on Facebook and feel very happy when someone actually opens one and comments.  This type of back and forthing is what makes Facebook "social" for me, especially when one runs out of witty status updates.  When I linked a CNN story:  On the trail of the "Blood Countess" in Slovakia, one adventurous friend responded, "The castle is only 2 hours from here.  Road Trip!" Another adventurous friend added, "Sounds fun" and a plan came together.  Understand that this is all very lucky for me, since I am a "linker" and they are "doers".

The short story here:  The town of Cachtice, Slovakia is home to a serial murderess from the 1600s, Countess Elizabeth Bathory.  The Countess and some ne'er do well servants, murdered more than 100 and possibly up to 1000 local virgins.  Why? Apparently, bathing in their blood (and possibly some cannibalism) was the secret to the Countess' youthful looking appearance, as well as the fast track to lifelong imprisonment at Cachtice Castle (the Countess) and being burned at the stake (her servants).

August 21, 2014 marked the 400 year anniversary of the Countess' death.

The centerpiece of downtown Cachtice:  Countess Bathory and Victim (Wood on brick 2013)

Remarkably smooth skin represented in this Countess puzzle, which hangs in the local pizza parlor 

From Vienna, there are two ways to get to Cachtice, the highway and the byway.  Luckily, we travelled both to enjoy rural, scenic Slovakia with a view to more castles needing restoration.  After locating the right castle, we climbed the hill to take in the restored ruins and gorgeous scenery.  We also got our fill of the spooky vibe, purchased a bottle of the local vintage red in her name and appeared to be among the very few English writers signing the visitor log.

The "linker" lagging behind the "doers" recognizing that they are both fun and impressive travel companions

Obviously, the Countess was one brutal and disturbed criminal who deserved the same fate as her servants, in my opinion.  This macabre history only leads me to the conclusion that the key to a youthful appearance is (in fact) a bottle of red, followed by busting a move to some old school Madonna, topped off with an ample slathering of Oil of Olay.  Like a Virgin!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Abdicating the Throne

I was sorting through some of my home leave vacation photos this morning and came across this beauty.

Not Your Typical Vacation Photo

Why toilets?  Well, I'll tell you.  First, if you are the least bit offended by potty humor, potty pictures, potty stories or potty behavior, I beg you, click over to Facebook or check your email now.  We can catch up another time.  After all, you've only seen one toilet picture.  Be forewarned, a toilet rant is fast approaching.

Let me go back, for just a moment.  Less than a year before we moved, we remodeled our master bathroom into one of my favorite spaces in the house.  Yes, I still look at the pictures even though we no longer own it.

My Happy Space
While apartment hunting in Vienna, if the place had 2 bathrooms, or at least 2 toilets or WCs (as they are called here) it made the cut.  Our current apartment has 2 WCs.  However, toilets in Europe are different.  They just are.  If you've visited Europe, you know about the interior "shelf".  I despise the shelf.  Books need a shelf.  Toilets do not.  You also know that there is no "swirl".  US has the swirl, Europe has the "whoosh".

Back to our toilets.  The main bath toilet looks fine, even with the dreaded shelf and a plastic tank.  Fine that is, until you flush.  Then, with the sound of a fighter jet at take off,  a vertical geyser erupts and sprays toilet water and whatnot across the room.  No one is interested in what the not is.

The lid must be closed to flush.  Even with the lid closed, I truly believe there is a horizontal projection system at work.  Oh, and we have a 10 year old boy.  Who forgets.  To close.  The lid.

Whoa Nelly, She's Gonna Blow
Then there is WC number 2.  Pun intended, since the toilet and sink (where you can only wash one hand at a time) are shoe horned into a space the size of a broom closet.  When you sit on this toilet, your knees hang out into the hallway.  Short people, celebrate your size!  I offer this demonstration for illustrative purposes only.

Um, Don't Mind Me

There Will Be No "I Got a Meetin' in the Ladies Room" Here

After living like this for a year, I had the brilliant idea of replacing the main bathroom toilet with something a little less "Old Faithful".  We (because I sold dear husband on the idea) even volunteered to purchase the toilet when pitching the idea to the landlord.  We both thought this would be easy, until we received the quotes.  No wonder our landlord was so happy to accept our offer.  Did you know that you are charged for individual pieces of a toilet here?  Yep.  Each and every stinking piece has a price.  Even when you go to the "big box" home store, there are multiple aisles devoted to various and sundry toilet pieces.  No box from Kohler and a couple of hours with the plumber.

Quote #1

Imagine my excitement when the first quote arrived.  When I opened the email attachment, I nearly spewed my coffee in solidarity with my commode.

Your New Toilet Will Cost $2389.00 USD, When Can We Start Work?

Yes indeed, the quote for our new toilet was over 2000 dollars.  This is a serious quote.  I am not making this up.  In case this was a cruel joke, we asked for a second quote from a different supplier.  They came back a scant 200 dollars cheaper.  Probably because the toilet would be installed without a key part, like a lid.  Or a handle.  For now my quest for a new toilet for the kingdom is on hold.

Now, I am the first one to admit this is my first world problem.  No doubt about it.  At the end of the day, however, my home is my castle and I'm still looking for a new throne.