Monday, May 17, 2010

Simple Living, Royally!

Pierre keeps remarking on how we are making do with so very little in the way of material goods, space and modern conveniences. After a few moments of apprehension; would they do terrible things to each other in such a little bedroom? how would I put any food in that tiny fridge? I just got on with life and enjoyed the good things here, but I shall take a moment to comment on the joys of simplicity of our day-to-day life in France, after a month of testing the theory.

We have been kindly loaned a 2-bedroom apartment. One of the bedrooms is small, that is the one the in-laws chose to put the 4 bunk beds in. The kids love it, it's very much like a dormitory. They have to really keep things picked up, clothes folded and the red carpet clean to live peacefully, and they do a good job. When Alienor and Puck performed a Mother's Day dance for me yesterday, they chose to do it in the narrow space in the bedroom between the beds and the closet, rather than in the more spacious living room. There is one bathroom; bathtub, bidet and two sinks, and one w.c. or water closet. The kids have worked out their own shower schedule, so no conflicts there. The second is a little harder to manage at times, but Puck has a little potty chair and he is the only one subject to real emergencies.

We have a washing machine in the kitchen. It is small, it is noisy and it takes forever, but I was thrilled; no laundry mat four times a week! There is no dryer, but this is not a problem, as Aragorn is now in charge of hanging out the wash and Lily folds it and puts it away. There is no dishwasher, but after a couple of days of doing dishes, I remembered that Aragorn's job at home translated from emptying the dishwasher to doing dishes. As he is not here for every meal each day, it is really not much of a hardship.

No car; already addressed this in an earlier post, but to summarize: when my in-laws want to see us, they arrive to pick up the children. If the weather is not too awful, Pierre and I bike to their house through beautiful French countryside, how hard is that?

A small amount of toys; Legos that belonged to Pierre when he was small, a pirate boat someone loaned us last week, a few books, a few play silks, paper and colored pencils, and they keep perfectly busy with that.

Joys of simplicity: 1) there is hardly anything to clean up, hurray! 2) People keep giving us food because either: they assume I don't have time to cook with five children or they are happy we're not coming to dinner at their house, or they are just very kind. 3) Kids are learning that you don't have to have it all to be very happy. 4) I have to walk or bike everywhere, very good for me! 5) None of it is mine to fix if it breaks, I just keep it clean then give it back. 6) Only a few books in English, so there is a lot of reading in French. 7) Dusting the entire apartment takes 10 whole minutes. This is fortunate, since all of the shelves and accessories are wine-colored and need to be dusted frequently. 8) There is no laundry build-up since the dirty wash lives in the little kitchen and we would not be able to eat if we did not do the laundry, oh, and we did not bring all that many clothes with us. 9) The food, have I mentioned the food? We get our fresh products at the outdoor market, and it is all so fresh! Salads are green and crisp, strawberries are small and sweet, cheese is cut from a round and lovingly wrapped in white paper, the eggs were laid that morning, and the fish caught the night before. We often eat at my mother and father-in-law's table, where they prepare the best of what they have saved for us; the rare mushrooms they harvested in their own yard, duck confit, pates, and foie gras they made last year and saved,and the wine from the cellar that has grown dusty with age, sigh.

Personal luxuries that keep me happy; my old laptop to write on, two books: "The Spiritual Tasks of the Homemaker" by Manfred Schmidt-Brabant and Elizabeth Zimmerman's "Knitting Around," and a selection of beautiful yarn. Now, just having a book by Elizabeth Zimmerman is enough to keep a knitter happy and occupied for a few years. She could really write; her books are entertaining and functional at the same time. Having yarn and needles as well makes it perfect. "Spirtual Tasks" is a good, esoteric type of read. The good thing about it is that I need to read it over and over to get it, and something new comes of each lecture. I read in French too: the newspaper, Marie Claire Idees and just now a book a friend loaned me called "Propagande," from 1928.

Things that keep the rest of them happy: Aragorn's guitar, which Pierry plays too, and his (Aragorn's) issues of "Guitar World." Alienor's copy of Harry Potter, Lily's copy of "The Wright Three" and her pentaminos, Arthur's THREE stuffed animals (the worst ever for taking up room in a suitcase, and Puck: Daddy's Legos. Il suffit de peu de choses. they say here,or; one really needs very little.


  1. Ah, if only we could keep it to such a minimum in our homes all the time. Sounds lovely, dear friend.

    Give hugs to the children.

  2. A challenge I would like to feel up you say. Thank you for writing, hope life is good for you!


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