Roaming About

A Life Less Ordinary

Ask a House Sitter – What Do You Do between House Sits?

For house sit assignments to line up perfectly, house sitters have to be pretty lucky. Finding consecutive house sits in highly desirable locations is pretty rare, unless you are able to secure every sit of your choice and all the dates are flexible. Or, you are in an ideal position where home owners consult with you to see when you are available. That would be the dream of all house sitters: having different owners bombard you with invitations, so you can choose which situation and location works best for you. Unfortunately, home owners are the ones to pick from an array of sitters, since the demand for house and pet sitting jobs is higher than the supply. So, what do we do to fill the gaps between house sits?

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Discoveries around Costa Mesa, CA – 10 Things to See and Do

For three weeks, Mark and I took care of a cute 7-month-old dog named Jaxx and a small apartment in Costa Mesa, California. I’ll report on that sit later. We had never visited this area before and gladly drove the eight hours down from Northern California for some warmer, and hopefully sunnier, weather. Well, the weather was wishy-washy, but on the weekends and some late afternoons, we did our best to explore a few sites with our “happy go lucky” temporary pet. And, three times, the sun gloriously accompanied us with 70-degree weather (21°C). Here are the discoveries we made…

My personal discovery of one of Southern California’s missions

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Wordless Wednesday – Against the Odds

I have decided to post photos (or videos) of past travels in general and our eight year sailing adventure on SV Irie in particular for Wordless Wednesdays.  Also, I can’t manage “completely wordless”, but I’ll try my best at “almost wordless”. 🙂

With thousands of photos and tons of movies haphazardly archived over the years, I can’t easily pick what to post, so I use the weekly prompt of the Daily Post to inspire my Wordless Wednesdays. This week’s Daily Post photography theme is “against the odds“.

Mark does not like to pose for photos, so whenever I can convince him to be in a photo together, against all odds, it makes me happy, let alone when he actually agrees to kiss me! In some ways, the first photo is an all-in-one, what with it being Valentine’s Day yesterday (we do not celebrate this commercial event, but love each other nevertheless, even on an eight-hour drive from Southern to Northern California through heavy traffic in LA) and the WordPress theme “shadow” of last week.  Be brave, adventurous and live against the odds! 🙂

Love on a beach in Acadia National Park, Maine, USA

Hiking in Point Reyes National Seashore, California, USA

Have you done or seen anything against the odds recently?

Laguna Beach, CA – On a Shoestring

One of the reasons Mark and I have been house sitting for over a year is so we can live “for free”, taking care of people’s home and pets, while they are away. For us, it is a perfect exchange, with quite a few perks, one of which is the variety of places we get to live in. We don’t seek out super desirable locations and make the destination our highlight as many other sitters do, but prefer longer term sits and weekend explorations in each area we find ourselves in. The United States has interesting parks, beaches and cities everywhere!

On the most beautiful day during our three-week sit in Costa Mesa, Southern California, we put on shorts and flip-flops and headed for the beach; Laguna Beach to be precise. Continue reading

Monthly Expenses – January 2017

Expenses - image

Every month, I post a report of our expenses to show that it is possible to live a comfortable, exciting and relatively adventurous life without being rich. Or even without owning/earning a lot of money. That being said, Mark and I seem to manage one big expense a month for some reason, whether it is car, plane, travel or computer-related. Luckily, we live totally rent-free, wherever we end up. 🙂

This report includes ALL of our expenses, in US$, for the two of us. Under groceries we incorporate all the food, produce and non-alcoholic drinks (100% orange juice, oat milk for Mark and organic 1% milk for me) predominantly bought in supermarkets. Toiletries belong in that category as well. Dining out means eating at a restaurant/event or purchasing take-out food. The health category covers non-prescription medicines and Mark's vitamins and supplements; medical contains prescription drugs and doctor's visits. Utilities are always Skype-related, since that is how we make phone calls. 

You now see health insurance and costs related to my health care, since we are not in the lowest income bracket anymore and I am not a US citizen. As a matter of fact, I owe the government $1500 for health care insurance in 2016 (and a lot of taxes!), because our income was a bit higher than anticipated. Mark is still eligible for free health care in the state of Massachusetts as of today. If a non-emergency were to happen outside of that state (we are currently in California), it will be expensive for either of us! I still pay a small three-monthly fee in Belgium for health care (required to keep my citizenship), which I mention in my year report.

Here is an overview of our expenses in January. Fuel is higher than usual because of our drive to Southern California, and we took some friends out to dinner, but we finally succeeded in spending less than $1000!

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House Sit Chatter – Behind the Scenes

A few weeks ago, when Mark and I were still taking care of Herk and a pool in Rocklin, CA, we faced housing insecurities for a period of four weeks. After not finding suitable listings, we were getting a tad antsy, only a couple of weeks out. Would we be homeless between our week-long house sit in Fairfax, CA and two-month assignment in Sebastopol, CA? What would we do for four weeks? We couldn’t afford staying in a motel for that long… Luckily, some other options started to appear.

Bay in Laguna Beach

“Do you think I should apply to that two-week house sitting job in Lacey, Washington?” I ask Mark as I am reading through the assignment again.

“Sure. Why not, we don’t have anything else at the moment,” he replies. “We have nothing to lose.”

“OK,” I say. I write a nice letter, explaining why we would be the perfect sitters for their two dogs and hit the submit button, thinking how an 11-hour drive and weather that is even colder than Northern California are not ideal. Continue reading

IWSG Writing Update – February 2017

Every first Wednesday of the month, the IWSG (Insecure Writer’s Support Group) encourages writers to share their fears, thoughts, progress, struggles, excitement, encouragement or anything really about their writing.  Since August 2016, the IWSG offers a particular question as a writing prompt for their members. Answering it is optional. This month that question is “How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader?”

January has been a month with little progress on the book writing front for me. Mark and I wrapped up a three-month pet sit in the Sacramento suburbs mid-month, followed by a week-long house sit in Fairfax, CA. Then, we drove all the way south, past LA, for a two and a half week puppy sit in Costa Mesa. All that moving around and “re-settling”, plus the care for a 7-month pup always looking for trouble, the attraction of sunny weather to be outdoors and my commitment to writing a few articles, leaves little time to concentrate on writing a book. Sure, my memoir is always brewing in the back of my head, but I have not put down any more words, except for trying to understand what thread I should follow. As I mentioned last month, I could use your help. But first, I’ll answer the IWSG question, since it is somewhat related. Continue reading

Fairfax, CA: January 14th – January 21st, 2017

Since this was a short house sit, I am writing our experiences as a “Completed House Sit” post.

A couple of months ago, Mark and I came across this one-week house sit in Fairfax while living in Rocklin, CA. While the assignment was much shorter than we prefer, Fairfax is an attractive, up-scale town about an hour north of San Francisco, there were a cute dog and chickens involved and the owners happily selected us as their sitters. Then, about a month later, we received the devastating news that 10-year-old dog Xander had unexpectedly passed away (from the same symptoms as our dog Darwin in 2010). We were shocked about the sad event, but considered the impact and how we would feel if this had happened on our watch. It is the nightmare of every pet sitter! The owners still preferred our involvement, to take care of their seven chickens and have a presence in the house. We obliged.

These chickens are pretty and soft!

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Wordless Wednesday – Graceful

I have decided to post photos (or videos) of past travels in general and our eight year sailing adventure on SV Irie in particular for Wordless Wednesdays.  Also, I can’t manage “completely wordless”, but I’ll try my best at “almost wordless”. 🙂

With thousands of photos and tons of movies haphazardly archived over the years, I can’t easily pick what to post, so I use the weekly prompt of the Daily Post to inspire my Wordless Wednesdays. This week’s Daily Post photography theme is “graceful“.

One early morning, in the bay of Hanamoenoa on the island of Tahuata in the Marquesas, French Polynesia, we saw the tips of wings break the water surface. It didn’t take long for Mark and I to don our snorkel gear and join our neighboring friends in the water to observe the unique spectacle of gentle manta rays feeding on plankton in the bay. Their wing span is wider than our length and their presence was majestic. The four of us just relaxed in the water, while these graceful giants swam back and forth, once in a while touching our bodies with their velvety wings, unwithered by the big, indigestible nuggets floating in their soup. Enjoy this peaceful encounter!

What comes to mind when you think about graceful?

Rocklin, CA: October 14th, 2016 – January 10th, 2017

After every house sit Mark and I finish, I write a quick overview for my “Completed House Sits” category. This allows readers to get a feel for our particular assignments and offers potential home owners insights into how we would function in their home, and care for their sweethearts. It also brings conclusion for me, saying goodbye to our temporary pet(s) and the place we called home for a bit.

For this three-month house and pet sit in Rocklin, California, Mark and I drove across the country and left the New England area indefinitely. I recently wrote about a typical day in our lives as house sitters in Rocklin, so I won’t repeat myself. We enjoyed our stay in a comfortable house with all the amenities we could wish for and in the company of a great pooch.

Herk is a very sweet and cute dog to care for. Continue reading

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