Being away from NYC is naturally very refreshing and being back at home where I grew up takes simplicity to a whole new level.
It’s been raining practically since I arrived, not too cold but windy, not really encouraging to go anywhere, we are staying at home most of the time. Well, except a few grocery trips, some rushed errands and Church last Sunday. Otherwise the days are spent caring for the children (3 of them, all under the weather), cooking, doing the dishes (approximately one million times a day) and constantly keeping the fire on to heat the house.
Each time I am visiting my father’s house, it sort of feels as if I never left. For some reason time goes by so much slower here. The days in New York City most of the time seem to be a blur, work, home, work, home and then some more work. Here, at times it seems like it is 3pm already but then I look at a clock and it really is only 10:15am. There is time for everything. Now, don’t get me wrong, life in the Polish cities such as Warsaw, Krakow or Wroclaw does resemble busy life of Prague or London and such but life in a small Carpathian village is a different story. Not much changed since I left. Same, mostly unpaved roads, same small, family owned grocery stores, same pizza place and same local diner.
It’s easy to refocus, somehow whatever seems to be my biggest problem back in NYC, here it does not occupy my mind as much. There is a lot more focus on the actual living rather than pre-planning and worrying.
Back to Simplicity:
1. No wi-fi on my phone
My macbook air is 3 years old and it ‘remembered’ the wi-fi network. My phone is a brand new one and required entering a password. Well, that proved to be a challenge. The reason? When the router was replaced a couple of years ago, whoever set it up came up with the password no one can now remember. Tried all the possible options and nothing. I could not believe that my sister never needed the password for the last 3 years, none of the house guests ever asked for it either. After everything failed I called the internet company and no one could help me reset it over the phone. Instead they suggested they can send someone next Monday. ‘Next Monday’ I don’t think I will continue to care..
My first reaction? You gotta be kidding me! I am going to DIE without connecting my phone to wi-fi. Well, here I am 6 days later, practically no phone and I am still breathing. And you know what? Because I know it is not working, I just put it into my backpack. If kinda feels nice to not be constantly looking at it 😉
2. It’s all about the warmth
And by that I do not mean just the family being together. It is also A LOT about keeping the fire constantly on to keep the house warm. Back in NYC I am very aware of how easy we have it. And still, we come back from work on a chilly day, ‘press the button’ to heat the apartment and more often than not ‘It is just not heating quickly enough!’.
Here our country home is heated by wood and coal. The system works centrally but requires lots of attention pretty much at all times as the fire needs to be ‘fed’ every 3-4 hours. This means that someone needs to wake up at 10pm, 2am, 6am (and do it throughout the day of course as well) then walk downstairs to a cold cellar where the central heating stove is located to make sure that everything is working properly. This means removing the ashes, scraping tar that accumulates on the walls of the central heating stove, adjusting the temperature, adding wood and coal, waiting till the temperature settles at a desirable level, then adjust the ‘thingy’ that regulates ‘something’ (well, you can tell I am an expert). Let me also mention that the central heating stove produces an incredible amount of smoke so by the time one is done with the task (which takes 15-20 minutes each time) she smells like a chimney.
Saying that I happily took over the task for the duration of my trip to make it a bit easier on my dad, even if only for two weeks.
3. The cleanest dishes
While I hate vacuuming and am not too crazy about doing the laundry, I don’t mind doing dishes that much. I shall say it is a ‘tradition’ that the moment I walk through the threshold at my Polish home, I take over the ‘dishes duty’. Once a year I also help my sister bring all the pans and pots back to their original shine and beauty. How?
The above mentioned ashes from the central heating stove? Yep 😉 Putting it to good use. Mix some ashes with water to create a paste. Use the paste as you would soap to clean the pots, pans and utensils. Use a sponge or a cloth to rinse, then dry with another one. Today this was a half a day long, a bit messy project but totally worth it.
Earlier this year I read an article on one of the ‘frugal’ blogs that I frequent describing this method. It surely made me LOL when I read that this method was very popular before 1960s. Well, let me tell you, 55 years later and it is still going strong here.
4. More simple things?
- I am also enjoying not having the TV on as much as I do back home in NYC. My dad watches news and some sporting events but generally TV is turned on ‘with a purpose’.
- My sister opens her laptop after the children are already in bed so she can check her email. ONCE.A.DAY. What?
- Children wanting to color and do crafts and not play on a tablet.
- Me not constantly checking my banking and other accounts.
- Flip phones everywhere (+ my above mentioned no wi-fi on my phone drama = everyone stares at me blankly).
- Pantry full of canned delicious fruits, veggies and mushroom. Yum.
- Home made meals – all of them.
Can’t believe two weeks is already halved. I am going to make the best out of the next few days.