The Joy of Cleaning

One of the really great things about our new apartment is that it’s fully furnished, so we’re already pretty much settled in.  We do have some things coming in our sea shipment that will be great to have (like our king-sized bed… I cannot tell you how many times in the past three weeks I’ve woken up one inch from falling off the bed), but until it gets here, the supplies that our landlord has provided are more than enough to get us by.  One of my tasks today was going to be to quickly evaluate what cleaning supplies we had on hand, then make a trip to the CBA down the block to get the rest.

Well, since it’s after 6 pm, and I haven’t made it to the CBA yet, you can tell how well this process is going.  One thing that I didn’t really consider is that I can’t read any of the labels – and although a few of them have neat little pictures on the front to indicate that they should be used on glass, I have a pretty large selection of clear and white bottles with no pictures and a LOT of text.  Here’s an example of one:

Használati utasitás:

A vizkőoldo mindazon felületek es tárgyak tisztitására alkalmazhato, ahol fennáll a lehetosege a vizkőkepződesnek, kivetelt kepeznek a krómozott es egyeb femfeluletek, valamint a sosavnak nem ellenallo keramiák. A tisztitando feluletet nedvesitsuk be a vizkőoldóval. Nehány perc várakozás után a vizkő feloldodik. Erosebb vizkőlerakodás eseten a folyamatot ismeteljuk meg. A vizkő eltávolitása után alapos es tobbszori vizöblítes szukseges.

So basically I have just been typing the labels into Google Translate and hoping for the best… at first I was ignoring the accents, but many of the words don’t come up at all unless you put the accents in properly, and some of them have meanings that change quite a bit once you put the accents in!  The paragraph I copied above is still missing several accents, but with this version, I got to the point where I figured out the label (this bottle apparently is for decalcifying…)  

So this is what I’ve been doing for a good portion of the afternoon – decoding labels.  About half of the bottles are 100% in German, which surprised me.  For whatever reason, those seem easier to understand to me, even though I only know about 5 German words.  

This whole exercise has made me much, much more sympathetic to stores that have signage and product labels in both English and Spanish in Texas.  When I find a label that has English on it, I get so excited that it would be embarrassing if anyone could see me other than the dogs… so I can definitely empathize with newcomers to the US who prefer stores that have multiple languages on their products.  

Not the most exciting update, I know, but it’s one of those little things that never occurred to me before the move – that even simple household tasks like mopping the floors might require a little pre-work here.


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