Roaming About

A Life Less Ordinary

Month: November 2017

House Sitting Behind the Scenes – The Selection Process

House and pet sitting as a lifestyle might sound like a relatively new concept to you and me, but, within these circles, everyone is on the look-out for an appealing sit, and some people have been doing it for over a decade. Since we started this lifestyle two years ago, the demand for house sits (or the supply of house sitters) has grown substantially. Competition is fierce, and securing an attractive sit is not an easy feat. There are days that dealing with potential house sits is my main activity; another reason why we prefer long-term commitments. Not only does that fit our work schedules better, provide immersion into a specific area and give us a welcome respite from being on the road, it also offers me a little break from digging through listings and submitting application letters.

In February, I wrote a post about how we end up with certain sits. I figured it was time for another example of how our future takes shape “behind the scenes”. The basics are always the same. Mark and I are members of a few house sitting sites, where our profile is available. We explain who we are, what we prioritize, our experiences and our strengths. There are a few personal photos attached as well. Home owners sometimes find a perfect match in us by reading this profile, and send us an email to inquire about our availability and thoughts. More often, however, I click on the most promising house sit listings that arrive in my inbox, read the descriptions, check out the photos, and, when they fit our preferences (location, type of animals, duration, timing), I create a personal letter and hit the send button. If the interest is mutual, we communicate over email and set up a time for a Skype interview, ideally with video. When all that goes well, and the home owner chooses us – usually after talking to a few candidates – we confirm the sit, and have a plan. It is not uncommon that home owners, especially in desirable locations, receive between 40-100 applications. Yeah…

Hanging out in the yard with “our” current Italian Greyhounds Frida and Elvis

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The Best Thing about Blogging – New Friendships

In 2007, my husband Mark and I bought a 35ft catamaran in Annapolis, Maryland, called it Irie, and sailed into the sunset. We had no idea how long the adventure would last or where we’d end up. Our first destination was the Bahamas and we planned to live this cruising lifestyle until “we ran out of money”, or “it wasn’t fun anymore”. To document our journey and experiences, and as an alternative to writing group emails, which I had done my whole (traveling) life, I started my first blog. I called the website It’s Irie. Comments were rare; the availability of internet defined when I posted and whether I could upload photos. The blog continued as long as our sailing trip; eight years.

Irie blog

When we sold Irie in Tahiti, French Polynesia, and moved to the US for the time being, I wanted to start a new blog. It took me forever to find a suitable name, that was still available as a domain name and that would be fitting and timeless. Roaming About was born in October 2015, the same time we started a new, boat-less, lifestyle of house and pet sitting. I entered an era where blogging had become more popular and serious. My sailing friend Lisa of One Ocean at a Time suggested a few of her favorite blogs to me. “When you read these blogs and leave a comment, their wonderful authors will return the favor,” she wrote in an email. That’s how my social interactions with fellow bloggers began. Continue reading

Southern Utah’s National Parks – 12-Day Adventure between House Sits

Between our month-long house sit in Rollinsville, Colorado and the next, three-month one in San Diego, California, Mark and I faced a gap of two weeks. Initially, we were on the look-out for a short pet sit, but pretty soon, we realized this would be the perfect opportunity to really test the van life. Longer than one weekend, and for fun, instead of as a means of transportation to get from point A to B. It was an attractive plan for many reasons, including these four: we have always wanted to visit some of Utah’s incredible National Parks, they happened to be en route, we could use a break from our computers (when not?), and, coincidentally, our business partner appeared to have a scheduled vacation within the exact dates we’d be on the road. Now, if that wasn’t the ideal time to relax The Wirie work a bit ourselves!

A window to Delicate Arch

Arches National Park

Not much planning and anticipation went into this camping trip. I checked the map, saw Canyonlands, thought “I guess we stop there,” then noticed a green spot called “Arches” along the way and yelled: “Oh yeah, that’s the famous one in Utah, not Canyonlands. We have to go there!” Now, I don’t know whether you have ever looked at Southern Utah on a map… it is one national park after the next! How exciting! All we had to do was pick and choose, be happy about not doing it all, and not feel rushed! Oh, did I mention that the two biggies, Bryce Canyon and Zion are here as well?

Our selection of Utah National Parks

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Monthly Expenses – October 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 breaking the bank. The less money you spend, the less you need to make. 🙂 That being said, Mark and I seem to manage one big expense a month for some reason, whether it is camper, 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 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. The utility category has disappeared, since we replaced our Skype phone service with Google Voice - the one-time fee for this was paid with our Skype reimbursement and there are no more monthly contributions.

Health insurance and costs are related to my health care as a permanent resident in the US. 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, it will be expensive! For check-ups, we both return to the East Coast. I still pay a small quarterly fee in Belgium for health care (required to keep my citizenship), which I mention in my year report.

Zesty the Westy continues to be our biggest expense: over $500 last month, mainly for fuel - we went on a long road trip visiting some national parks in Utah - and a high-altitude fuel pump so we could run our heater above 5000ft in Colorado and Utah. Not being cold anymore is worth something. We also spent $40 on accommodation - something we rarely do. Technically, I could record this amount under "travel". Usually, we overnight for free, but in Zion National Park we made an exception and paid for two nights of basic camping in the midst of the park's natural beauty.

All in all, October was not too crazy, considering we went on a two-week "vacation", exploring one of the most amazing states in this country, and Mark hopped on a plane to the East Coast. Next month, we are aiming to spend $1000 or less!

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IWSG Writing Update November 2017 – Just Because I Have To

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. A different question is posed each month, as a writing prompt for IWSG members. Answering it is optional. For October, the question is “Win or not, do you usually finish your NaNo project? Have any of them gone on to be published?”

This amazing, supportive group of writers was founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Today, the accomplished co-hosts are Tonja Drecker, Diane Burton, MJ Fifield, and Rebecca Douglass. Feel free to swing by their sites and see what they are up to.

The answer to the question

The only NaNo I have ever heard of is the NaNoWriMo, which means National Novel Writing Month and takes place in November. I have never joined any NaNo challenge or competition and don’t know much about it. Checking out other writers’ blogs will provide you with more information. I do know that if I ever commit to such a project – if writing non-fiction is allowed – I would finish it. I hate to give up on goals and commitments.

My own book progress

Which brings me to my ongoing memoir project, which I have not given up on yet. That is the good news. The bad news – once again – is that progress has been minimal last month. After finishing a massive project for our business The Wirie, I had a couple of days left during our Colorado house sit to pick up the manuscript again. And, that was that. We had a thirteen day gap between being in the mountains and arriving at the coast in California for the next house sit. That time was happily spent exploring some National Parks in Utah and visiting with friends. Updates to follow soon.

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