I took a break from bagging my endless things for donation, to meet with a woman who may rent the house while I'm gone.
Despite my best intentions, I haven't been able to get my head around giving up the dogs. So, my latest genius idea is to put up an add stating what I need and see what happens! In this modern world things aren't always done like they were before, and I'm trying to think outside the box. So I said I am looking for a tenant who would look after the dogs when I'm gone for perhaps six months, in exchange for decreased rent. The rents in my area of California have skyrocketed and even at a discount I could rent the house and still pay the mortgage with a little of my savings. To my delight I got several responses!
So I met with a potential renter and we talked about the situation. She is going through a divorce, has two kids and a teenage sister who lives with her, and is a nurse at a local hospital. Shout out to all the hard working nurses out there! It's not an easy job.
It might be ideal for her because she needs a place to figure out her next move. And it might be ideal for me because she and her family love dogs. A win-win.
Mulling over these decisions after David had gone to bed (nine hour time difference), I was lurking in some of the sailing forums when I came across a post about The Schengen Agreement in Europe. I guess a problem with immigration and visas had never occurred to me because we will be sailing to different countries' coasts in our journey through the Mediterranean, and I didn't think we would be in any one country long enough to make it an issue. But immigration and visas are an issue!
According the the US State Department:
Kind of throws a wrench in our plans to explore for six months.
Interesting countries not part of the deal are United Kingdom, Ireland, Croatia, Cyprus, Turkey, Tunisia, Morocco, Albania, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia. A big part of our plan was Croatia. David had spent time there years ago and has some contacts. It has been on my list of places I want to go to for some time, too. But I never had the intention of rushing from Spain to Croatia to avoid being thrown out of the European Union! David reminded me that we could easily sail to one of the countries listed above in the required time. Distances between countries are not far in Europe.
The alternative is getting a long term visa from one of the relevant countries. From what I read this is quite a pain and expensive. Still, I will call my local embassies and see what the requirements are.
David sent me a whale tooth for my birthday! All the way from Scotland. It could be a hundred years old!
I think it was the spring of 2014 when I got my hands on Marie Kondo's book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, like so many other people. It came at a good time for me.
I had some time off from work because of a hand surgery, and used it to purge my house, at least some of it. I gave away bags and bags of clothes and books. I am far from a hoarder, but I still had a lot to get rid of.
There are tons of resources on line about methods and strategies to begin sorting, donating, selling excess items you might have around the house. Along with the above mentioned book, I will say that I got some inspiration from a youtube channel called Love Raw Vegan, by Brianna Egglestone, and by The Minimalists Joshua Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus (I just listened to one of their podcasts though. They spent at least ten minutes talking about the products you can buy to get better sleep. I think if you're making a podcast on minimalism you might run out of things to say.) I have read that one out of ten Americans rents self storage for these things, and that the number of these units is more than five times the number of Starbucks in the United States!
Why to get rid of your stuff? I won't try to convince you of the zen-like spiritual benefits of less clutter. I have my own practical reasons. I'm getting on a sailboat. Enough said.
If you take a real look at the amount of time you spend taking care of, cleaning, organizing, buying and laundering, your things, you might be very surprised, like I was. Not to mention the cost of accumulating things we don't need. Is that what a successful life looks like? Accumulating and then taking care of things? Not for me. But still, I have fallen into the web of consumerism that is all around us, and have amassed too much.
If (when) I have to come back to the states and work, I will need such things as a bed, winter clothes, pots and pans. So walking the fine line of modern minimalism is a challenge. I don't want to rent a storage facility! So, the next few weeks will be time to devoted to a systematic purging of things. I will be ruthless!
As I sit in my bedroom, the winter sun streaming through the window, my dogs laying next to me on the floor warmed by the sun, I know there are things I will miss dearly. Fortunately I don't have to give up everything. I'm sure I'll treasure the whale tooth David gave me forever.
I'm having doubts. Second thoughts. A crisis of confidence. About putting my life on the internet? YES! But no, about my plan to completely change my life and sail off into the sunset.
It's not that I'm risking so much. I have quit my job before and set off for indefinite periods of time. I am fortunate that an experienced nurse can find a good job easily in the United States. And the house can be rented to pay the mortgage. Most of my things I can do without, so I won't miss them. My son is grown now, and he and my other family and friends will be here, and can come to visit us.
I certainly don't mind spending my savings for this great adventure! I try to be balanced in my approach to savings, investments and retirement, but I decided long ago that the usual version of an "American success" wasn't my idea of success. I'd rather have time than toys and I have chosen freedom over security, financial and otherwise, many times and consistently.
I had my son when I was 19 years old. With help from my parents I graduated college when he was about seven, raised him on my own and have always had a job. I work hard and it's a stressful profession. If you think I wouldn't walk away from it for good, you would be wrong. But I'm lucky that it has allowed me to support myself well.
I know what it is. It's the dogs. My Georgia and Rikky.
I got George almost exactly four years ago. Went all the way down to southern California to a German Shepherd rescue because they had so many dogs and I wanted to get a good fit, temperamentally. Georgia was gentle on the leash, sweet and calm. They said she was about two years old.
I asked about why she looked so big around the middle and the lady said it was because she had just had a litter of puppies recently. But since then she had been spayed, and I could clearly see the fresh incision on her belly.
We took Georgia home and were not surprised that she seemed a little uneasy at first. She seemed to be looking around all the time and was not playful in the least. Well, maybe she had had a rough past, maybe she was just adjusting. She wasn't in any acute distress or anything so I didn't worry.
Then one night she was acting especially strange. She was wining and restless and started arching her back, so I thought "That's it. I'm taking her to the emergency vet." It was semi-dark in the office as I was trying to put her leash on, when she arched her back again and a small black thing went skidding across the wood floor. An ALIEN PARASITE!
I screamed! And then took a closer look. It was the first of elven puppies, small and black and wet, eyes closed. Georgia nursed her new pups as each one came out, licking them to revive them. Two were still born, but nine were healthy new puppies.
THAT was the adventure of a lifetime. We took care of the pups with Georgia until they were 9 weeks old, then found them new homes. All but one boy, Rikky. And that's why I have two dogs. He will be four years old in a couple of weeks.
I have often thought that they need more than a single woman, gone all day at work. But it will break my heart to let them go.
P.S. I contacted the vet who did the "spay" in southern California. He didn't want to know anything about it, not names, dates, nothing. He hung up on me. So we filed a complaint with the California Veterinary Medical Board, and after one letter acknowledging the complaint, never heard from them again.