Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Other sites in Luxembourg City

When we finished our exploration of the Bock, we returned to the center of Luxembourg City in search of lunch.  We briefly visited Place Guillaume II - on Saturdays they have a farmer's market with fresh produce and flowers.

We had lunch just off the square and were able to watch people wander the market.  After lunch we went to see the exterior of the Palais Grand-Ducal.  As the duke was not currently in residence, it was open for tours, but the English tour was not until late in the afternoon - far beyond the limits of Allen and Kyra's patience.

So we took them off to church instead.  We visited Luxembourg's Notre Dame.   It was a pretty church but by European standards significantly smaller and no where near as ornate as its sisters in other cities.

As we were leaving, a bridal party was coming up the steps not for a wedding, but as a backdrop for some photos.  This is when we encountered one of the most hideous bridesmaids dresses I have ever seen.  I was not fast enough with the camera to get a picture of the front of this dress, so you will just have to imagine the bodice fully ruched and covered with sequin appliques.

From the church we walked to an overlook of the park along the river bank.  If the park had not been so many steps below where we were standing and had our energy level been greater, we might have gone exploring the park a bit, as it did look lovely, but none of us felt up to the task.

This was our last view of Luxembourg City.  From here we left to visit the WWII cemetery and make our way to Viaden.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Bock Casemates - Luxembourg

On Saturday, Kyle, Allen, Kyra and I headed for Luxembourg to spend the weekend.  Luxembourg City is about two and a half hour drive from our house.

Our first stop was the Bock Casemates.  These are a series of tunnels and rooms throughout the rock promontory you see in this photo.  We crossed the bridge at the far right of the photo and spent a couple of hours exploring the casemates and looking out through the openings you can see in the rock.
At one point the network of the casemates was 23km long.  They sheltered soldiers, horses, workshops, kitchens, etc.  During the world wars, they provided space for 35,000 people during air raids and shelling.  All this is to say that this network is not small!

We enjoyed making our way through the tunnels and look out through various openings.   We had lovely views of the city.  When we got to the circular staircases, the experience was even more interesting.  These staircases were narrow and irregular.  Some steps were barely wider than my foot. Our "handrail" was a plastic tube.  And as you can see from Allen's photo, sometimes they just ended abruptly.

We often found ourselves climbing or descending into dead ends.  As these stairways were only one person wide, there were times when we had to wait to make our way back from whence we came.  The directional signs were quite minimal so we were frequently lost.  We did lose Allen for a while but eventually we all made our way to the exit.

a view from one of the openings

After the casemates it was time for lunch before exploring more of the city.  That's tomorrow's blog.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Fish Pond

When we arrived in Belgium, Kyra was delighted to discover that the house came with a fish pond.

The pond sits at the corner of our patio and as you can see has pretty plants all around it and a metal heron sculpture.

Our landlord has told us that we can give the fish some bread about once a week.  Kyra decided that the fish need fish food and not bread, so when we were at the PX she found the fish food.

Once a week she faithfully feeds the fish and is delighted to watch them rise to the surface of the pond.

There are a couple white fish and a couple of black ones.  The rest are orange.

I find the pond to be a lovely way to enjoy fish without the work.  We don't have to filter water or clean an aquarium, just sprinkle some food in every now and again.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Belgian Driving

Now that I've had my car for over a week and have passed my driver's tests, I'm getting used to driving in Belgium.  I'm not completely comfortable yet, but do expect that to come.

A few things I've noted:

Belgians drive fast!  Speed limits are generally higher here than in the US.  Drivers don't make much accommodation for pedestrians.  In the US, most of us will slow down when driving by a person walking along the side of the road.  Here, the car moves over (slightly!) and whizzes by at full speed.

Yield signs are the norm.  There are very few stop signs.  Mostly drivers are encouraged to slow down for a brief moment and then go if the coast is clear.  This is kind of nice as it eliminates much stop and go traffic.

Roundabouts are the norm.  Instead of traffic lights (there are some but not as many as in US), many intersections are roundabouts.  I find them fairly easy to navigate as they are nowhere near as complicated as Washington DC has managed to make them.  Belgian roundabouts do not have traffic lights.  The rule is that cars in the roundabout have priority.  If no one is in the circle, you go right on in and turn off where you want.  If someone is in the circle, you yield and enter when the coast is clear.

The hardest thing to get used to is "priority to the right."  This means if you are driving down a road, you have to slow down at every intersection on your right and yield if someone is turning out onto the road in front of you.  There are exceptions for some major roads but not all.  For example, my street is about one and a half cars wide, it intersects with a larger road that is about two and a half cars wide and has significantly more traffic traveling at a higher speed.  When I want to turn out left out of my neighborhood, I only have to look right before I can pull out in front of traffic (because I'm on the right of those on my left).  I'm not brave enough to do this yet, I wait for traffic to clear.  I'm also really cautious about driving down roads with many right intersections.

I do miss more common sense road conventions and all the driving habits I've developed driving in the US, but honestly I don't miss the traffic.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Stuff I Miss

Yes, I know that yesterday I wrote a blog about identity and not having one's identity in things.  But, some things make life more comfortable or easier and now that I have been separated from my household for almost two months I know what I really miss.
(In case I haven't whined enough, our house was packed up on July 6th.  Air baggage is supposed to take around 4 weeks.  We are now in week 7 with no prospect of seeing that stuff soon.  Shipped stuff is supposed to take 8 weeks but given our track record - who knows??)
Anyways - stuff I miss

1.  Allen's back pack - I feel bad he has had to start school without it.  It is in the air baggage so we did expect it to arrive before school started.

2.  My pillow - I know I'll sleep better once I have it.  I don't necessarily need my bed, but I do need (really want) my pillow.

3.  Coffee maker - I miss morning coffee.  I could buy a coffee maker, but I know it is coming and I hate to waste the money.

4.  A second pair of pants - When I was packing we were in 100 degree days.  Kyle was emailing me how hot it was here in Belgium.  Since we have arrived, the average highs have been 70 degrees which I would love, if all my clothes weren't shorts and sleeveless tops.

5.  My Helly Hanson rain jacket - The weather has been 70 degree highs and almost daily rain.  When your wardrobe is very limited, wet clothes just are that much more of a hassle.

6.  My slippers - the floors are all cold tile.

7.  Two more plates, two more bowls and a cutting board - I could expand my dinner options a bit and we could all eat at the same time.  (Why don't we buy paper plates and plasticware?  A bag of 50 plastic spoons costs $7)

I think that is really about it.  So much more will eventually be delivered to us but I those are the items I'll go hunting for first and the things I will probably use the most.

If your whole house was packed up and you found yourself in some new house in some new place - what would you miss most?

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Earlier this week I was listening to one of Matt Chandler's podcasts, a sermon in his Colossians series, called Identity.  (Usually I'd use this as an opportunity to recommend Matt to you, but there was some wacky theology toward the end of the sermon so I'm not recommending this one)  The place where we as Christians should find our identity is in Christ, but as humans of the world, we find it in other places, people and things - our houses, physical appearance, accomplishments, our kids, social networks, etc.

As I listened I realized that much of what we as a culture find our identity in, has been stripped away in my life - I don't have my house, I don't have my social network and while I have my physical body - I don't have the majority of my clothes.

Like it or not the US military and their contractors have provided me an opportunity to take a look at my identity.  What do I value?  What have I believed is essential to me that really isn't?  I'd like to believe that I am not overly materialistic and not overly consumed with stuff, but I still miss it.  I definitely miss the convenience and comfort.

I realize that in this empty house I have it better than the majority of the world.  I am in a house, with a functioning roof.  There is food in the refrigerator and our two plates are more than many people have.  My one pair of long pants is more than others have, I know this even as I wish for two pairs.

I also know that this stage is temporary and at some point will come to an end.  I do hope that when it does that I don't forget the lessons learned - gratitude for the abundance I enjoy on a daily basis and that my true identity is not found in my stuff or my accomplishments.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My Job

As we prepared to head overseas, many people asked me what I would be doing while I was here.  In other words, what would be my job?

During the time I am in Belgium, I will probably not be paid to do any job.  If our first days are any indication though, I will be plenty busy just keeping our lives spinning.

Belgian bureaucracy is time consuming and multi-step.  We arrived three weeks ago now and on our first day began our application for a Belgian ID.  We had to repeat step 1, because the photos that were taken were incorrect.  We are now waiting to complete the next step and anticipate that in maybe a month we will have our IDs.  Keep in mind these IDs are to be with us at all times while we are in country and we can be fined 100 euros for not having them on us.

American military bureaucracy is no better, just different and at least we can conduct these transactions in English.  Today the kids had to have their medical exams for school, which would be understandable but just six months ago they had a full medical exam to be approved to move here.  

Household chores take longer.  A wash cycle takes just under 2 hours.  The washer is also smaller which means more loads.  As mentioned in a previous blog, the dryer isn't terribly efficient which means I air dry most of our clothing.  

Living in a more rural setting means that stores are further away.  The American commissary is a 40 minute drive one way.  I wouldn't mind shopping at local stores, but food prices are much cheaper at the American commissary and there is the upside of being able to read the labels given Allen's allergies.

None of this is an 8 hour day, but nor are any of these things that can simply be accomplished after a full day of work.  The evenings are full of cooking, dinner, homework and keeping up with the kids' activities (dance, cross country, church youth group).  

So no, I don't have a job but I am occupied. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Frites (french fries) are available everywhere.  These were purchased at the Ducasse d'Ath in the town square, but every town, no matter how small, has a friterie.

I have not yet wandered into a friterie but I understand that at a friterie one can order a fried hamburger to go with one's fries.

But back to the frites-

They are french fries - thicker than McDonald's but generally they are your average french fries.  Not extra special good.  Not extra special bad.  They are packaged in a cone that looks like the one Kyra is holding.

What makes Belgian fries so remarkable is their condiment.  In America we have ketchup and in Canada they used malt vinegar.  In Belgium they have mayonnaise and it is not used sparingly.

I had to sneak to take this photo so it is not quite as clear as I would like it to be, but that white stuff in the paper cone of frites is mayonnaise - at least a cup of it.

I am not a fan of mayonnaise, I eat it once or twice a year on my Thanksgiving turkey sandwich.  When I use it, it is a skim coat across a single piece of bread.  The thought of a cup of it is a bit nauseating, but this is the way Belgians eat their fries.

It probably comes as no surprise that walking down the street, one does not encounter as many waif-like figures as one does in the US.  What does come as a surprise is that walking down the street one does not encounter as many obese figures as one does in the US.

Anyways, if you are longing for a taste of Belgium, without the expense and hassle of travel, pull out that jar of mayo next time you have french fries.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Ducasse d'Ath Part 2

Over the course of the ducasse, there are several major events and many minor ones.  In between, there is frite eating and beer drinking.  The major events are the wedding of Goliath and Mrs. Goliath, the fight between David and Goliath and then the next day is the parade of the giants.

Given our schedule this weekend, the event that was the most convenient for us to see was the wedding, though next year we may try for the parade.  (The fight of David and Goliath is probably the most interesting event to witness, but also has the least visibility as there aren't any wide open spaces in a centuries old city)

As I describe the "wedding" keep in mind Kyle and I have brought our two American teenagers to witness this.
At 2:30 on Saturday afternoon, Goliath and the soon to be Mrs. Goliath come down the street toward the Grand Place of Ath.

As you will be able to see in photos, both Goliath and soon to be Mrs. G are wearing skirts made from floral print bed sheets.  These skirts have a small hole in the front for the person in the costume to see and a large gap in the back from which the person can exit.  The skirt is far more becoming on soon to be Mrs. G than on Goliath himself.

Each giant is surrounded by people in white - the handlers.  They make sure the giant doesn't topple over, push the numerous photographers out of the way and pick up any coinage thrown at the giants (it is a tradition to toss coins).

From 2:30 until 3:00 Goliath and Mrs. G stand outside the hotel de ville (city hall).  During this time wedding guests amass and the band gets in place but pretty much this is a half an hour of just standing around listening to your kids whine.

Then at 3pm Goliath and soon to be Mrs. Goliath begin their procession down the street to the church.  People line the streets wearing their purple, yellow and white neck cords (remember yesterday's blog).  The parade is led by soldiers and then come Goliath and soon to be Mrs. G followed by a band followed by the wedding guests.
I liked the combo of spats
and athletic shoes for this uniform

The parade was an interesting experience, as Americans we are used to barricades and someone official keeping the crowds out of the way.  In Ath, there weren't any barricades and people just popped into the middle of the parade, when they wanted to take a picture or greet a participant.   You can probably see this phenomena the best in the photo of Goliath.

The whole procession moves slowly down the street with Goliath and soon to be Mrs. G "dancing" (turning in circles) to the music of the band.

When Goliath and soon to be Mrs. G reach the church, the church bells ring out for an extended period of time and all the wedding guests go into the church for the wedding.
To attend the wedding one must get tickets in advance and dress up as if one is going to an actual wedding.  We checked out the church in advance, it was all decorated for the occasion.  Earlier the choir had been heard practicing for the event.
We left after the parade had passed us (the kids were disappointed, but we had to go - church picnic was that evening).

In case you are wondering what happens next - the wedding takes awhile and then Goliath and Mrs. Goliath exit the church and head back up the street.  While they are walking along celebrating their wedding with all the guests, David pops out of nowhere and fights Goliath.  David kills Goliath and that's pretty much it for the Saturday events of the ducasse.

You will be pleased to know that Goliath is resurrected on Sunday morning so he and his wife and their giant friends can parade through the streets.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Ducasse d'Ath part 1

Summer is the high season for local towns to hold their ducasse.  There is no direct translation from French to English of "ducasse."  They are unique to northern France and this part of Belgium.  A ducasse is probably best described as a centuries old religious festival combined with folklore and over the years has lost the religious aspects and gained beer.

A ducasse is a multi-day event with the more spectacular moments occurring on the weekends - parades, re-enactments and/or fireworks.

The Ducasse d'Ath began yesterday.  It's religious anchor is David and Goliath, but as we'll explore tomorrow, David has little to do with it.

Today I'll just give you a sense of the atmosphere.  The Ducasse d'Ath has been taking place in some form or another since the end of the 14th century.  Some forms of the ducasse do reflect its age - narrow streets and older buildings.  Some forms are more modern - the street fair amusement park rides and food stands.

The ducasse is a big deal for the local community there are posters everywhere and the flags of the city were flying everywhere - purple, yellow and white.

The events are well covered by local television.   Several camera men wandered the streets.  There was a special camera on a crane to get above the crowd.  At some points we had to be careful not to trip over sound cables running along the street.

To get into the festival mood, we were given ample opportunity to purchase a ducasse necklace.  They could be purchased in varying thicknesses.  Some came with whistles so you could really annoy the people around you.  Many people bought them, so look for them in the photos I'll share tomorrow.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Cherry Beer

First a disclaimer - I am not a fan of beer.  I don't like beer, I never really have.  If pressed to choose a favorite, I would say Heineken.    But even that requires a disclaimer.  When I was living in Leningrad for a month (when it was Leningrad and not St. Petersburg) my beverage choices were Pepsi, Heineken and mineral water.  Mineral water doesn't sound so bad until I reveal that the mineral water had enough minerals in it to turn the surface of teeth black and tasted like drinking fizzy pennies.  Under these circumstances I found Heineken quite tasty.

I now find myself in the land of beer.  There are whole aisles of it in the grocery stores and many breweries in the towns around us.  There are many kinds of beer, including cherry beer, strawberry beer, and cookie beer.

Just because I don't like beer doesn't mean I'm not willing to try new ones.   We are living in a new place we will try new foods and new beverages.  Cherry beer seems to be quite popular, so I thought I'd start with that.  As the grocery store sells them as singles and six packs, not much would go to waste if I didn't care for it.

So I bought a small bottle, brought it home and waited a day so it could get properly chilled.

It came as no surprise to me that I did not care for it.  To me it tasted like cherry pop with a beer aftertaste followed by a cherry cough syrup aftertaste.  Allen and Kyra were allowed tastes as well and neither of them became a fan, so now I know they won't be sneaking off to get drunk on cherry beer (possibly other beverages but not this one).

You might like cherry beer, maybe you like cherry cough syrup.  If you come to visit, I'll ask you if you want to try it.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Not Cherry Beer

I was going to write about Cherry Beer this morning, but as the kids left for school, another inspiration hit, so you are going to have to wait for Cherry Beer.

In the absence of stuff, we as a family are learning to be grateful for what we do have and for experiences we might not otherwise have.

What I am grateful for, is the opportunity for Allen and Kyra to reconnect with one another.   Every school morning, they leave the house together, walk to the bus stop and wait together.  In the absence of everything familiar to them, they have each other (not that either would admit this).

As I watched and listened to them depart this morning, I realized if we were in Virginia, there is no way that Allen would walk to school with his sister.  Not just walk with her, but talk with her as well.  As they left he was explaining to her, how PE worked at Lake Braddock (the school they'd be at if we were in Virginia).  And in this rare instance Belgium got the positive review instead of the typical, everything was better back home.

While the level of their togetherness will most likely decrease as they both pursue their own interests and make their own friends, there will be experiences they have that will be unique to us as a family.  As we travel they will be in photos together.  They will have stories common to only them - "remember the time when we saw the pianos in the street..."

I'll probably still whine that I would like my stuff (it is terribly inconvenient to not have one's pillow, enough blankets for the beds and only one pair of long pants in weather that ranges from 40-60 degrees) I'm learning to appreciate what emerges in the absence of the familiar.

As for the cherry beer, keep watching this blog, it will make its appearance.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

First Day of School

our very busy street - see them walking in
the middle of the road?

For nine years I have been standing at the bus stop.  In Virginia, Allen and Kyra's bus stop was at the edge of a busy road during rush hour, not a place any sane mother sends her children to stand by themselves.  Most days bus stop duty wasn't bad, but the rainy and bone cold days, make a mom wish for the day she doesn't have to go to the bus stop.   On every bad, cold, wet day last year, I reminded myself, this is my last year, this is my last year.  Soon ....

The day has arrived.  My children are old enough to get themselves off to school and they don't need mommy to watch after them at the bus stop.  Which of course meant that I wanted to go to the bus stop on their first day of school.  I settled for walking the dog by the bus stop.

At the end of our street there is a small church.  This is their bus stop.  Sometimes cows are pastured in the land behind the church.  I don't think there is any bus stop like this one in Fairfax County.

Their bus isn't typical either.   They will be spoiled by this nice new motor coach.

While I wanted to wait with them this morning, I know very well that I have no desire to get up and get ready to go any future mornings.  This includes the wet mornings (of which there are many in rainy Belgium) and the cold mornings.   They are old enough and responsible enough to get themselves to the bus stop on their own.  An on a rural street, standing by a church, close to a cow pasture seems like a safe enough spot.  So away they go, on their own....

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Pianos on the sidewalk

As we were walking toward the Brussels Grand Place and the flower carpet on Saturday, we came across this piano - a bit odd, but it can also be explained.

When people move into and out of European buildings, buildings without elevators and with narrow staircases, their belongings come and go through exterior windows.  In this case, there were no other belongings and no one doing any moving.

We chalked it up as odd and kept walking, and we came across another piano and another one and another one.  In the course of our walk we saw about ten pianos.  At that point we attributed it to the summer music festival going on in Brussels.

All pianos seemed to be in working order.  They all had their keys and were upright.  But some support legs were broken, wood was cracked and not unexpectedly they were out of tune.  Nonetheless, Allen did have some fun playing a little bit.  How often does anyone get to play a piano in the streets of a world capital?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Royal Palace

While we were in Brussels on Saturday, we had the opportunity to tour the Royal Palace.  The palace is only open for a few weeks each year and is free! (Kyle's favorite price)

The palace is the palace for the King of the Belgians (there is also a King of Belgium).  Apparently one king has the land and the other gets the people.  When I have a better grasp of Belgian history I may be able to explain this better.

Anyways the Royal Palace was quite lovely.  We toured the public sitting rooms, a hall of mirrors, the throne room, music room, etc.  Cameras were not allowed so, all interior shots are from the internet.

This is a portrait of King Leopold in the creatively named White Room.  King Leopold's was quite the dashing figure and we come across portraits of him frequently.

The most remarkable room was the one in which the ceiling panels and the central chandelier were covered with the wings of Thai jewel beetles.  The ceiling glimmered with movement and light.  The photo doesn't do it justice but at least you get an idea of the scale of the project.

In two of the larger public rooms, museum exhibits had been installed.   Each year the royals choose a theme and then have museums bring in an exhibit.  One exhibit explored how humans have portrayed animals (sculpture, taxidermy, etc) and the other was a hands on science exhibit.  They were an odd and incongruous addition to a palace open house, but I guess it is a way to bring museums to a new audience.

Overall it was a pleasant tour and part of our introduction to Brussels.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Manneken Pis

Some cities have mascots or a landmark that everyone associates with the city.  New York has the Statue of Liberty, DC has its monuments, San Francisco the Golden Gate bridge, Paris has the Eiffel Tower, and Brussels, Brussels has the Manneken Pis (roughly translated - peeing little man).
you can see the bills of a couple of baseball
caps at the bottom of this photo
to give you an idea of his height

He has been in the city for centuries now and he is little.  He's only about 12 inches high, so the city has made this elaborate niche for him and installed him high enough that he can be seen over the heads of mobs of tourists.  He even has security cameras watching him.

He has a wardrobe of over 800 outfits and is dressed with great ceremony three or four times a month.  About 100 of his outfits are displayed at the Brussels City Museum.

If you want to find international tourists in Brussels this is the place to be.  There are mobs of them.  In this small square is where we have heard the most English (other than on base) since our arrival.

Manneken Pis is a mascot.  In all the tacky tourist shops you can find the assorted souvenirs.  Manneken Pis postcards, shot glasses, magnets (with a thermometers!) and corkscrews.  Guess which part of the anatomy has been transformed into the corkscrew.  At the time of our visit, Brussels was having a music festival so we saw print ads of the Manneken Pis with a guitar .  He is truly everywhere.

Here he is a little closer up.

I've been having difficulty with my links lately, so I'll just give you the web address if you'd like to learn a bit more about this little guy -


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Flower Carpet

Once every other year the Grand Place of Brussels is covered in flowers, begonias to be exact.  This display is referred to as the flower carpet.  (If you would like to know more details, you can check out www.flowercarpet.be)

The flowers are put into place on Friday afternoon and are left in place through Sunday evening.  These flowers are not planted, no soil is involved, they are just tightly packed into spaces bordered by turf.  The entire carpet is over 2,000 square meters. There are approximately 300 flowers to every square meter.  My math calculations tell me, there are alot of flowers.

For the best view of the carpet, it is helpful to get some height.  For just two hours a day, the public is allowed to go onto the balcony of the hotel de ville.  This cost us 3 euros per person.  It was a beautiful sight to see the expanse of carpet with the back drop of the guild houses that border the Grand Place.

It was also a good place for a photo op, even though some of us did not appreciate getting up early on a Saturday morning to see this.

The carpet won't be back until August 2012.  Each time the carpet design changes, so this one won't be seen again.

hotel de ville with people on balcony at second floor level

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Old Fashioned Laundry

Like our Virginia house, our house in Belgium has a washer and dryer.  They are on the first floor (hooray!).  The laundry room is larger than the one I had in Virginia.

Unlike in Virginia, electricity is very expensive which means running a dryer is very expensive.  So most of the time, I was the clothes and then hang them to dry. This means the laundry room often looks like this.

I have four lines running across the room and bunches of clothes pins.  Oddly enough I kind of enjoy hanging the clothes out to dry.  Kyra helped me with it the other day and her comment on the experience was, "This is old fashioned."  Which I suppose it is, but it is kind of neat to think that I am doing what my grandmothers and great-grandmothers and generations of women have done.  Only I have a machine to wash all those clothes for me first.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Bathroom Privacy

The master bathroom has a lovely and large window that extends from the floor to just 18 inches shy of the ceiling.  From this window I can see my neighbor's fields, their horses, cows and dog.  I can also see their house and into their windows.
Which I am guessing means they can see my house and into my windows.
in the left window you can see a neighbor

Here is the view immediately opposite the window.   That would be my toilet and next to it the bathtub.  It is hard to see in the photo below, but the shower is right next to the window.  Exiting the shower means stepping right in front of the window.

I should note that our landlords have left us a curtain rod and a curtain.  This would be great if the curtain were big enough for the window, but the curtain is not.  It is long enough, but not wide enough.  So it has to be strategically positioned for optimal privacy based on one's bathroom activities.

So an order was placed for frosted contact paper, a tension rod and sheer curtains.  Kyra helped me with this project.   First we put up the contact paper.  This is not a strong suit for either of us.  It wasn't very straight, nor smooth.  So then came the next step - a small tension rod and sheer curtains.  Looking at the photo is appears we didn't get that level either, but I can easily fix that.   But now there is privacy when before there was none.