Living with Less

As I sit here applying a little lipliner from the stub of my MAC spice liner that happened to be in my purse, not in the broken-into car, I feel cranky again. This is the only cosmetic I have left. So, I’m applying a little and putting vaseline over the top. Why? Not sure…that’s a whole other blog post I imagine. Or maybe some sort of self help book…
Anyway, the robbery happened a week ago today, so we have been here at La Fougere in the beautiful Pyrenees for almost that long. And have we done much hiking? Have we enjoyed long rambling walks around the lakes and along the rivers? Have we taken advantage of the fact that we finally don’t have to drive every day? Have we been to the numerous amazing thermal baths we keep reading about?
No. We have not.
Why? Because it has taken us almost a week of driving around to any town big enough to stock walking shoes to actually get a pair of shoes. I have big feet, and apparently either all women in France have big feet and so they’re sold out (which is not the scenario I expect is true), or more likely, no women in France have big feet. Merrell lady’s shoes come in sizes up to European 44, but no store here has any over 41. I take a 42. So, every store I went in had maybe one or two pairs of shoes in that size, but all of them were men’s. Which is fine as long as they’re not really wide, and big and black and clunky and manly. Which they all have been. I did finally get a pair yesterday afternoon. They are big and manly and not something I would really want, but they were on sale, and so my thought process is that I can wear them now and buy something I really want when I get back to England.
This is only one of the inconveniences that has resulted in us not being able to fully enjoy our beautiful surroundings. It takes a really long time to find a place where we can buy underwear for the whole family. And don’t even get me started on bathing suits. I have a big body too, and buying a bathing suit generally takes me longer than buying shoes. Or any other item, really. Even for the kids, it is not the right time of year to be buying bathing suits. None of us has found any yet, and so no mountain hotsprings.
The thing is, we did not come here to shop. It is not a shopping sort of a place. Half the stores don’t even open unless they feel like it. In France, they close from 12-2, and then reopen. Maybe. And in Spain they open 10-2 and then close from 2-4:30 or 5. Depends. Some of them only open at the weekends. Some close on the weekends. Some close on Mondays. Some on Wednesdays and Fridays. In short, it is almost impossible to go anywhere with the intention of shopping without a written schedule of opening and closing times. Which, naturally, does not exist.
What I need is a mall, a really big one that opens from 10-10 and has stores I recognize. We could go to Barcelona, but with the car window still out, we can’t really go too far. Oh, and that’s the other thing; we have now driven to Spain twice where the closest Citroen dealer supposedly was, and it was closed both times. Yesterday we finally found one open in Bourg Madame, on the border, but they need to order the glass so it will be Wednesday or Thursday by the time we get the car fixed.
Now, this all sounds very negative, and I don’t want it to appear that we are not appreciating our time here. Most of the time, everyone is very positive, and we are just getting on with it. We are learning to live with less, which is never a bad thing. For example, when I get up in the morning, I don’t have to decide what to wear. If it’s cold and cloudy, I wear my long pants and my long sleeved top, and if it’s sunny and warm, I wear my t-shirt and my short pants. And up to today, I always wear my flipflops, regardless of the weather. Today, though, I will wear my men’s walking shoes.
Another positive, I asked one of the kids to go upstairs and get dressed this morning, and she said, “I have no clothes”. Right. Much easier. Pajamas are clothes and clothes are pajamas. Good.
Also, our kids have always been pretty good at entertaining themselves without much, but this brings new meaning to it. They have been playing very intricate and detailed games with a wooden chess set and board they found in a cupboard. I believe one kid controls the white guys and the other the brown guys who live in the “castle” which is the box. The pawns are villagers who also live in the castle, the bishops and knights are servants, and the coloured pieces from the Ludo game are the evil interlopers trying to take over the castle. Fabulous.
It’s all good. But I still get cranky over the fact that all our belongings are probably in a dumpster somewhere in Rome.





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One thought on “Living with Less

  1. Donna

    I guess some crankiness is allowed. Circumstances being what they are. But, how amazing are those girls of yours. Imagination that is priceless. You are raising real jewels! And, they will always understand a sense of poverty, a compassionate streak that already exists, will grow in each of them. I am reminded of Mairi at 2 years old in Cuba, giving away 2 books! I hope this week is much improved!

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