Roaming About

A Life Less Ordinary

Month: March 2017

Weekend Adventures in the Area – Sonoma County

Mark and I never go on vacations. We do travel a lot between places with our car, but the last time we had a real holiday together, as in taking a plane to a destination solely for sightseeing or vacationing, was back in… never actually. For me, it must have been when I was still living in Belgium, working as a teacher, before 2003. If you don’t count the city trip I did with my mom to St. Petersburg, Russia a year and a half ago. Yes, we do fly to the East Coast or Belgium once in a while to visit friends and family and we went on a five-day camping trip in 2015, but it is not the same. I hear some of you scoff, when silently mumbling something like “How about those eight years you were sailing in the Caribbean and the South Pacific?” or “What about that yearlong of gallivanting by RV in Central America?” Again: not the same. Leading a certain lifestyle, when working many hours a day at our computers does not equal vacation. 🙂

There are three reasons we never buy a plane ticket to go have fun in a new country. Continue reading

Weekend Fun – A Letter from Lola

While this past weekend the weather was not as enjoyable as the previous one, Mark, Lola and I still had a nice time together. At least that’s what she told her loved ones in Mexico with the following letter. I couldn’t have phrased it better myself! 🙂

California Redwoods

“Hi mom and dad,

I hope you are having a good time in Mexico. While I miss you a lot, I am happy to have remained in my own comfy house. I can lay in my favorite spots, play with my favorite toys, stroll in my favorite yard, bark at my favorite deer, and each time we come back from a car ride or a walk, I am so happy to be home. Sometimes, I don’t even want to leave, because I like it here so much. Last week, when it was so warm, I lagged behind on walks and panted a lot. I can’t believe that these two drag me out into the hills every day! Well, it is kind of nice, but sometimes, I just want to nap.

Grabbing balls at the dog park

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WW – Spring is in the Air

It has been a while since I created a Wordless Wednesday post. Spring is arriving at our current two-month house sit in Sebastopol, Northern California and I am loving it. The blue sky, the warmer temperatures, the sweet blossoms and the colorful flowers… I never realized I loved the visual appearance of spring this much. Must be because we lived in the tropics, void of seasons, for a decade and, really, are not too fond of winter. Which is why we “moved” to California this fall. Compared to last year, when I posted a similar blog  in June and left for Belgium to experience spring, we have no complaints about the change of seasons this year! 🙂

Has spring sprung yet where you live?

Fruitvale Stationed – A Week in the Hood

(Oakland, CA – February 14th to February 21st, 2017)

A little while ago, Mark and I saw a house sit posting in Oakland, California that sounded just perfect. We still had a little gap to fill between our time in Costa Mesa and our current, two-month house sit in Sebastopol, and the listing we were eyeing promised to be “an oasis” in the middle of the city. Mark and I immediately thought back about the time and place we met, a desirable, pedestrian-friendly area of Oakland called Rockridge. Based on the description of this potential sit, it had to be in a similar area. After our one-week sit in Fairfax, we decided to swing by the place and meet its residents on our way south to visit friends, and then continue on to Costa Mesa.

Following the GPS directions, we arrived at Fruitvale Avenue. “This can’t be right,” Mark mumbled, as we drove along the dirty road with cars haphazardly parked and small stores reminding us of the ones in Central America. Continue reading

A Very Important Woman – My Oma

Today’s blog post is a difficult one for me. I have written emotion-laden blogs before, like the one about our sweet, smart and cute dogs Kali and Darwin and the one about my sister-in-law Dru. I never wrote about my dear aunt Monique or my paternal grandma I called meter. Both also passed away while Mark and I were sailing the seven seas. During all those years abroad, I had one massive dread and worry. It had to do with my maternal grandma, my oma, who I loved more and longer than most anyone else.

When I was thinking about this subject, I realized it is International Women’s Day today. Perfect! What better day to celebrate the woman who meant so much to me, my whole life? Continue reading

Monthly Expenses – February 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 2% 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 February. It is a much higher than normal month, because we bought two sets of plane tickets for each of us. The first leg will be to Boston the end of April, from where we will both fly to Belgium for a month on May 20th. On the way back through Boston, we just have a short layover, before continuing on to San Francisco. Fuel costs are relatively high due to our return trip from Southern California. The good news is that we signed up for a fancy credit card, which gives us 100,000 points, if we spend $4000 in three months. We are doing our best to make that (high for us) number, and the flights - relatively cheap for what they offer - happily help. 🙂

Continue reading

IWSG Writing Update – March 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 “Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?”

I have about five completed articles in my archives which have not been published. Some of them are a few years old. I’ve sent them to particular magazines (the ones I wrote the stories for) and either got no reply, or once, a rejection.  I have reworked a couple of them and sent them off on different occasions (you are supposed to wait for a rejection before submitting elsewhere, but more often than not, I receive no answer, so after multiple months, I try again with another magazine). The one time I did hear back, it was to tell me that the story was accepted. I’m signing the contract and providing a bio today, actually. Yay! I still have a few articles left that I need and want to re-submit. It is one of the many time-consuming projects on my long to-do list. 🙂

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