Monday, May 5, 2014

Under A Dark Cloud

It comes as no surprise that it rains a lot here in Belgium. A few days bring nothing but heavy rain but most days involve at least some sun but lots of dark looming clouds that look as though they may open up at any time. Sometimes they do and sometimes they just hang out threatening to wet us down at the least opportune moments. But some days these clouds are more literal then figurative. And that is how it has been lately.

Most days I know we are lucky. We really are. Our family has our health, we live a comfortable life that affords us opportunities that many people can only dream about, and more importantly, we have each other. But that doesn't mean that we don't experience rough patches and as of late, it feels as though we are in the midst of a big one. Recently it just feels as though we can't catch a break.

We thought we lucked out when we moved into a great, recently renovated house in an even better location. We chalked up our first February night in the house without heat to our not understanding how to use the heating system and laughed it off. But when the heat continued to only be intermittent followed by our hot water heater not working, things weren't so funny. A procession of plumbers "fixed" the problem on a temporary basis but through experience I quickly became adept at taking flash showers and wearing sweaters in the house since you never knew when the hot water or heat would simply give up and quit. Glenn learned how to "fix" the problem by resetting the hot water heater while our water is running every time we want hot water. Every single time. (And this is what we've been doing for the past four days). This solution simply buys us more time (and hot water) until the system just gives out permanently. Or so it seems.... And then our main electrical circuit breaker starting shorting out at odd times. Again, electricians visited without a real resolution. We've taken to unplugging everything when not in use and not turning on more appliances at one time than necessary. Add in the inevitable language barrier that arises when dealing with repair men and our situation is just plain frustrating. I've been told all of these things are simply Belgian quirks that one must get used to. But today, as I wait for yet another plumber to arrive--perhaps to replace the water heater in its entirety, I am tired of all of this quirkiness. The fact that another electrician will be coming later this week offers little comfort. I simply want a house that works. But perhaps that is asking too much.

And then there is the car. Our brand new car that has less than 5,000 miles on it. After driving it less than two months I somehow ran over a nail and got a flat tire. On a rainy day none the less. And of course it was a day where we had problems with both our electricity and our water heater. It could have happened to anyone--after all flat tires happen all of the time-- but it happened to us. And the latest is a mysterious crack that appeared on our windshield. We have insurance but unlike in the United States where replacement windshields are fully covered we have a rather large deductible to pay. And because this is Belgium it isn't as easy as simply finding a repair shop and getting it replaced. We must contact our insurance authorized agent in Germany who can then provide us with a retailer here in the Mons area and only then will we be able to schedule an appointment. I'm sure it will be yet another production because I never hear of anyone getting an appointment in a timely manner. And did I mention that all of this happened on a rainy Friday when we were also dealing with the afore mentioned water heater? Of course.

But like I said, I know that we really are lucky. We have our health and we have each other. But spring is here and summer is coming. The days are getting longer and rumor has it the sun comes out a bit more during the summer months. Perhaps that black cloud will finally lift.

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