The end of the year is a good time for reflection. In the past, Mark and I would do so by recalling the islands visited, the people met, or the countries explored. The last two years, we look back at the house sits we fulfilled; new places we discovered in the US and animals we took care of. To give this review of 2017 a bit more depth, I am combining Donna’s and Peta’s idea of breaking the post down in months and Janis’ end-of-the-year focus by incorporating what I am grateful for.
January 2017 – Hospitality of others
In the beginning of the year, Mark and I finished a three-month dog sit with Herk in the Sacramento area, California. After that, we faced a short gap between house sits. Thanks to the home owner, who let us stay a few extra days, and a blogging friend offering up her guest room, we did not become homeless. Friends happily hosted us at other times during the month as well, keeping our accommodation free. During our 2+ years of house and pet sitting, Mark and I never paid for a hotel room.
Dinner with our hospitable home owner
Cuddling with Pixel, while staying at our friends Kathy and Steve’s house in the SF Bay Area for the night
Walk with Terri and Aero in Sacramento, where she and husband Hans housed us for two nights
February 2017 – The warmth of Southern California Continue reading
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 January, the question is “What steps have you taken or plan to take to put a schedule in place for your writing and publishing?”
This amazing, supportive group of writers was founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Today, the co-hosts are Tyrean Martinson, Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor,Megan Morgan, Jennifer Lane, and Rachna Chhabria. Feel free to swing by their sites and see what they are up to.
My answer to the question
I haven’t taken any steps, made any resolutions or put any writing goals in place yet. As a matter of fact, I have barely been able to think about the end of 2017 and new beginnings in 2018. I am way behind with my blogs, emails and any other writing, but as January unfolds, I hope to get going again. If circumstances allow.
Work in progress
The IWSG question of this month “forces” me to think about what I want to achieve, realistically, in the new year. Ideally, I write every morning in my memoir – the second draft that is – and save all other work, tasks and chores for the afternoons. In the past, this has been tough, so I assume I will need to readjust my focus. Sternly. I do hope to finish my memoir and, if at all possible, publish it in 2018. It is now or never!
When Mark and I started our current three-month house sit in San Diego, we knew we couldn’t go on weekend trips with our camper van like other times. Frida and Elvis, the two Italian Greyhounds we are taking care of, are relatively old – 12 and 10 years respectively – and home buddies; their owner prefers them to remain nearby. In a city like San Diego, that is not a problem at all! There is so much to do and see in this area that we could spend many weekends exploring and discovering. Here is a selection of what we visited over the last six weeks.
San Diego skyline with moored boats
San Diego Safari Park
We contemplated a visit to the safari park in Escondido, about 20 minutes north of the city, for my birthday (November 28), when our friend Amy (who recently graduated as a zoologist) gave us four free tickets that expired within a week. So, one Saturday, Mark and I set out to the park earlier than planned and had a fantastic time. Not as fascinating as the real thing in Africa, of course, but not a bad alternative! We were especially intrigued about the relationship between cheetahs and dogs. Every young cheetah is paired up with a dog and they become buddies for life.
Expansive safari park
You can take a free “tram” ride around the park
Can you find the baby cheetah among the teddy bears?
Having a (pricey) drink overlooking the rhinos. Cheers!
Dog and cheetah: companions for life – the cheetah run was impressive to watch
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 December, the question is “As you look back on 2017, with all its successes and failures, if you could backtrack, what would you do differently?”
This amazing, supportive group of writers was founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Today, the co-hosts are Julie Flanders, Shannon Lawrence, Fundy Blue, and Heather Gardner. Feel free to swing by their sites and see what they are up to.
My answer to the question
I am a woman of few regrets, living my alternative life quite deliberately, so this is a tough question. On hindsight, we probably would all do things slightly different, because we are wiser now. But, I don’t want to feel bad about the decisions I make. Those are sometimes hard enough. When it comes to my writing focus in 2017, of course I hoped to work on my memoir more. I do write all day, every day – emails, diaries, blogs, comments, chapters, articles, notes, business documents, translations, reviews – but I wish I could have removed myself from social media and all the “unimportant” scribbles, to make more room for writing in my book. Continue reading
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
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
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 November, 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.
Zion National Park