The Suitcase Lady


September 27, 2011, 10:08 pm

My husband and I have always considered ourselves to be tidy people … no mold in the fridge, toothpaste spit on the bathroom mirror or piles of unopened mail on the kitchen counter. The windows get a fall and spring washing and the vacuum cleaners (we own several because of our fur shedding cat population) are all in daily use.

However, we are coming to realize that others on the planet would find our standards a bit low. Those people live in the Netherlands. Having visited that compact country a number of times,we marvel at the entire nation’s housekeeping.

In hundreds of miles of travel, we have seen only shiny, slick paint on the houses, freshly scrubbed bricks, immaculately trimmed and pruned yards and flawlessly smooth roads. I’m guessing that the word “pothole” does not exist in their  language.

Windows are in a special category. Living in a gray, rainy climate, the Dutch crave natural light. Almost every home and apartment has multiple, huge plate glass windows. All these giant windows gleam sans streaks, spots or cobwebs.

I recently conversed with a charming, young Dutch man, who mentioned the program American Pickers which he watches on cable. He expressed fascination with the barns and yards full of hoarders’ trash that are fixtures of the series.

“Is this real,” he asked incredulously.

“I’ve got a few down the road from me,” I replied.

I think I’ve discovered one way the Dutch keep up those standards. Wandering in a Hema store (like a mini Target), I came across an entire aisle of scrub brushes. They came in all sizes from mini to giant, and in all shapes from flat to curved. Obviously, these armies of brushes are on active duty in the entire country.

3 Comments for this entry

  • liz levins

    maybe a bit too tidy! some of these houses look quite sterile.

  • Mary

    Yes, I agree, Liz, that being too tidy can be dull. Jane Jacobs is as relevant on that issue now as when she wrote about our cities. There are great designers working in the Nederlands to mess things up a bit. Droog Design and Piet Oudoff come to mind.

  • evie

    Now that I’m retired and home a lot in this tiny apartment, my Deutsch-ness is really kicking in. My
    Grandma T. (nee Seemann) would be proud of me! evie