Roaming About

A Life Less Ordinary

Month: April 2018

Then and Now – Friends

A few years ago, I would have never thought to dedicate a blog post to friendship. After all, we had many friends we stayed in touch with over email, fellow cruisers we ran into again, and new people we met in different harbors. As I have alluded to in previous blogs, the one fallback about house and pet sitting – and being on the move from one more or less isolated home to the next – is that Mark and I lack social interaction. It was an important fact I pointed out in my recent interview with Kristin of Wayward Home. Sure, we sometimes meet neighbors and might nod our heads at one another. Recently, we were even invited to dinner at the house across the street in Albuquerque. A first! It was a nice surprise and evening. But, all our current friendships are treasured via the internet. Outlook, Facebook, blog comments, Skype calls; that’s where my social life happens. Mark, who isn’t on social media, has even less interactions.

BFFs on my bachelorette party in SXM

Luckily, most of our friends are travelers. This means they might find themselves in the same area where we secured a house sit. When that happens, good times are had. New life directions are exchanged in person and wonderful memories are shared! Those are the best times, and I’m grateful for them. Continue reading

Day Trips around Santa Fe, NM – The Turquoise Trail

Some readers might remember that when Mark and I did a one-month house sit in Santa Fe last summer, every Saturday morning, we would jump in Zesty for a weekend away. We visited a national park or interesting attraction in the area. It was our first prolonged time in New Mexico, and the state has a lot to offer. Due to the windy weather, among other things, we haven’t been able to go on weekend trips this time around. Luckily, we are here for two months, so stay tuned!

A few days ago, we went for a Sunday drive, to follow the Turquoise Trail, a scenic byway between Santa Fe and Albuquerque. The route is named after the turquoise gemstones that used to be mined in this area, and is 54 miles long. While we’ve seen more impressive landscapes on road trips, the stops along the trail were worthwhile.


Madrid Continue reading

Couple sails world, gets a van, now house sitting the U.S.

A little while ago, Kristin from The Wayward Home (Home is where you sail it, park it, or build it. I love that tagline!) sent me an email. She was curious about how long-term house sitting worked, and asked whether I’d be interested in answering a few questions about the topic. I replied “Yes!” This past weekend, she posted the complete interview on her popular website.  I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Thanks for the opportunity of sharing our lifestyle with the world, Kristin!

Why did you and Mark decide to start house sitting full-time?

When Mark and I decided to abandon our previous lifestyle – which involved eight years of sailing, working and traveling on our 35ft catamaran Irie in the Caribbean and the South Pacific – we knew we didn’t want to settle. After selling our boat in Tahiti, we took a little break visiting with family and friends in the U.S. and Belgium, before creating a new plan. Continue reading

Completed House Sits – Albuquerque, NM (February 18th, 2018 to March 28th, 2018)

Every house sit is different – the house, the owners, the area, the pets, the tasks, the climate – and provides us with new experiences and routines. I always enjoy arriving at the next place and settling in.

Cuddles with Beck and Gunner

As mentioned in an earlier post, our most recent house sit was a last-minute decision. Mark and I had nothing lined up after our 3.5-month house sit in San Diego, CA (with a three-week visit back East), because we wanted to be flexible. We faced six weeks in Zesty, until our current 2-month house sit in Santa Fe started. Without jobs, the prospect of exploring the American West in our camper van and soaking up the sun in Arizona (with the idea of meeting up with my brother on a business trip in Phoenix, and RV blogging friends in that area) sounds perfect. But, since we need decent internet and two offices, our preference goes out to more comfortable and reliable quarters. So, when this house sit in Albuquerque, New Mexico, appeared, we jumped on it.

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Monthly Expenses – March 2018

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. 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 retain citizenship), which I mention in my year report.

March was a decent month, apart from some one-off expenses, which appear every month in different forms. This time, it was our yearly credit card fee, which is high, but comes with loads of perks and airline miles. And, we bought a battery charger for our camper, to retain and create more electricity.  More parts are needed to become self-sufficient for longer times, but Mark and I are trying to spread the purchases for Zesty, to not go overboard too much each month.  🙂

In March we also splurged on tickets for the fascinating Leonardo da Vinci "The Genius" exhibition in Albuquerque. By going in the evening on the first Friday of the month, we saved $10. Finally an expense in the "entertainment" category!

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IWSG Writing Update April 2018 – Revising Draft One

Every first Wednesday of the month, the IWSG (Insecure Writer’s Support Group) engages 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 April, the question is “When your writing life is a bit cloudy or filled with rain, what do you do to dig down and keep on writing?”

This amazing, supportive group of writers was founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Today, the co-hosts are  Olga Godim, Chemist Ken, Renee Scattergood, and Tamara NarayanFeel free to swing by their sites and see what they’re up to.

My answer to the question (“When your writing life is a bit cloudy or filled with rain, what do you do to dig down and keep on writing?”)

Unlike many other IWSG members, writing is not my career. One could argue I write full-time (when not traveling), but only if you add blog posts, translations, emails, blog comments, interviews, articles and diary entries to working on my first non-fiction book. Because of the other commitments in my life (mostly related to our business, jobs and house sits), I look forward to every block of time I can commit to my memoir and therefore I’m rarely stuck. This doesn’t mean I know what I’m doing.

I enjoy the writing and editing process and have no problem to “keep on writing,” since my brain (and life) is filled with stories and adventures. Where I do get stuck is deciding which parts/sections/themes/stories to keep in the book, and how to delete half of my first draft. It seems impossible, and creating a two-part memoir is probably not a good solution. (Has this ever been done?) When despair sets in, it is helpful to talk about my book to my husband or best friend, read up on the writing craft, or go for a walk in nature to air my brain.

Hike in Eldorado Hills, close to our current home in Santa Fe

My book progress

The year 2018 keeps progressing in its determined fast fashion. This is how my March looked like: Continue reading

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