I had already started my food blog, We can begin to feed... about a month earlier. It was not my first attempt at a food blog... but the other one that I had started the summer before became a lot about what I was eating and doing, and less about the dishes I was creating and testing. I deleted it and decided to start over.
I started it to appeal to my friends who really only come to look up recipes and get some ideas. I have a lot of friends and family who use that blog as a reference, who are not bloggers, and who generally don't read blogs.
I started this blog, as a diary in a way, to document some of the things I was doing and thinking about on my way to the big birthday coming up in May. I started reading other running and fitness blogs and learned about entering product giveaways ... and my first commenter was Amando, who writes Miss Zippy, telling me that I had won a giveaway on her blog. And the second, was from Jill, who writes One Tough Cookie and a Beer, on the same post. I was so excited that someone had seen my blog and actually left me a comment.
I also found my first virtual race, thanks to Jill. It was the Jelly Bean and I was thrilled to take part in something so unusual, at least to me. I started reading more and more blogs every day... and then eventually I discovered Twitter, and Klout, and joined Facebook, and Pinterest.... I draw the line there. I have not let myself go any further with social media, at least not yet. It does still make me nervous somewhat.
Over this past year I have 'met' and corresponded with so many wonderful, kind, amazing, and inspiring people. I have made some really special connections and can honestly, thankfully say, that no one has been mean to me. I hope I have been as good a 'friend' in return.
I have had great advice when I have reached out and asked for it. I have had wonderful encouragement during my half marathon training. I have won so many giveaways and have been very fortunate to be able to try out some products that I would never have purchased for myself. And I have connected with remarkable brands who have been generous in sending me products in exchange for reviews.
I have not 'monetised' my blog. There is no paid advertising at this point. I have joined a couple of marketing groups and find the camaraderie in them fun and inspiring. And they have opened doors for me as well, to other people and to product/brand opportunities.
I feel some days like I have taken on a new career... the food blog keeps me really busy creating or at least testing recipes and new dishes. I only post about things I have made myself and with an eye toward the Weight Watchers viewpoint. I use only my own photographs, too. It all takes time but is still a labor of love. I get such a kick out of coming up with something new that we really like and have a good time salvaging the mistakes into something edible!
This blog has changed a lot from the beginning. I have kept the look of it simple and I like to keep up with and advertise the current giveaways. I love to get in on the fitness challenges going around and some of the virtual runs. I enjoy learning about what everyone else is doing and working on and thinking about, too. And I do like to make sure that I reply to the comments where people leave their email addresses.
I think back to the summers prior to 2011, pre-blogging, and going off sailing for weeks at a time, with no internet connection, our cell phone turned off and checked for messages only once or twice a week... I spent my days wandering beaches looking for glass and other treasures, and lazed on the deck of the sloop, reading novels and doing logic puzzles. It was so quiet. No one cared or knew what I was up to, and I had no schedule or commitments.
There may have been some wine and some martinis, too.
So, lots of changes for me in the past year and there is another one that I want to tell you about.
We moved onto the sailboat in July of 2002. I bought her in November of 2011 in Vancouver, BC, and told my husband about it when he got home from work that day. He was delighted, and we moved her to our marina town on Vancouver Island shortly after that. We lived in the interior of BC at that time, and drove the 500 plus miles, back and forth every few weeks, spending a couple of weeks at a time on her. At that time we had a beautiful young female English Springer named Scout, and the 3 of us spent as much time together on board as we could, making sure that we could handle the space limitations and still love each other!
We sold our house furnished, to the first person that looked at it, about 8 hours after The Captain put a For Sale sign on our fence. 2 months later, we drove away, and threw our last house key away a few miles down the road... we were boat people!
That first Summer was so fun and so scary. We learned so much. And we got sunburned and windburned. We learned how to manage our limited onboard resources and water supply and we learned how to handle some onboard emergencies and we loved every minute of it. We ate fresh crab till we couldn't look at another bite of it for months, and Scout learned not to drink the salt water and to leave the swans alone! We showered outdoors and The Captain and Scout swam in the cool waters of the Pacific Ocean.
What is that thing? It smells funny.
We spent some of the first winter in California, golfing in Lompoc for a month, and house and doggie sitting in Yucaipa, CA for my younger brother and his wife and kids, while they went 'home' to Calgary for Christmas, for 2 weeks.
The following winter we stayed on board, and it went well... we had a couple of days of wet snow but nothing horrible. We purchased a portable dehumidifier which made all the difference for us comfort-wise and we managed all right... learned not to use too many heat-emitting appliances so that our 30 amp power wasn't overloaded and blowing breakers, and made sure to keep our water tank full, in case the outside temps dropped below freezing and the dock water supply was shut off.
The following winter we house-sat for a boat neighbor and his wife, in Victoria for a month while they went 'home' to Aus for a visit, and we also spent a few months in a lovely little cottage overlooking Admiralty Inlet, in a little rural community between Port Hadlock and Port Ludlow in Washington. We returned there for the next 2 winters and quite enjoyed it. We travelled a bit, got to know some neighbors whom we still keep in touch with, and loved U.S. shopping!
When we returned to the marina in the Spring of 2007, we started looking at motorhomes, thinking we might like to start going further South in the Winters... AZ or CA perhaps. A few days later, the unthinkable happened. I put Scout to bed in our aft cabin as usual. We watched tv for a while and about 11 pm got into bed... she was on her bed on the floor, just a foot away from me... and she let out a sharp little gasp. I reached over to check on her and she had stopped breathing! She had passed away. I won't go into all the details... but I can tell you we were devastated.
We walked around in a fog for months. I could barely stand to be on the boat and I didn't want to cruise much at all that summer and neither did The Captain. That winter I couldn't return to the cottage on the inlet, where we had had so many fun times with our Scout, in WA.
Some marina friends asked if we would be interested in house and doggie sitting for friends of theirs who go to Mesa for 5 months every year... they had a huge male golden doodle whom I immediately fell for, and we spent 2 winters there with him. What a delight he was. He certainly helped mend our broken hearts.
Truly a live teddy bear... so smart and affectionate.
Then the same friends asked us to meet yet another couple, fellow sailors, who were planning a trip to Mexico with their own sloop... and they have 2 cats. It was an instant match, and we have been here these past 3 winters. They leave their boat in Mexico all Summer, and then go back and cruise her while we stay here and look after things for them, all Winter.
This is so rare. We hadn't seen it before as they really don't like each other at all.
So, every year, we have been moving off the boat in the Fall, and then back onto the boat in the Spring. It takes not only a lot of physical work, but a great deal of planning, and can be stressful at times. It also involves a lot of responsibility, with living in someone else's house, and using their things and looking after their pets... we are very conscientious about keeping things clean and well looked after.. yards tended, and so on. I guess that is why we have had so many repeat gigs and why we are given such great referrals too.
But, and here it comes... we have decided we are not going to do it anymore. This is our last Winter of house-sitting. We need and want the freedom to come and go as we like, and that we don't want to be beholden to stay put for months on end, anymore. We might take on something under special circumstances for a short stay, but only that.
No, we are not going to start spending Winters on the boat.
We have rented an apartment in the city. We found a sweet little place, in an older building, in an area of the city we love.. it is a couple of blocks from the water and across the street from a beautiful park, and on the edge of a heritage neighborhood, populated by silver-haired hippies, aging boomers, young couples with baby strollers, and lots of granola crunchers on bicycles. It is urban and eclectic and busy and interesting.
We have only our clothing and some kitchen goods... a few boxes of personal momentos, such as books and photo albums, are in the crawl space of my sister-in-law's home in North Vancouver.
We took possession of our new nest on April 1st.... they let us have it March 25th as long as we didn't turn any lights on at night! We have been furniture hunting since we made this decision, and finally found some pieces we love. I have a definite look in mind and am sticking to my guns... this is not the best city for selection, but so far so good.
Can you imagine your house or your apartment with NOTHING in it, and having to buy everything that it needs? That is what we have been doing..... I bought a spiral bound notebook and it has become my 'bible' with notes about EVERYTHING to do with the move... who to contact, room by room details of what it will need... notes about what possible purchases we have seen in what stores... measurements for everything, and color swatches.
The Captain has done some painting... the manager offered but we declined and said we would be happy to do it ourselves... not me, but him! I don't paint. Well, watercolors or acrylics on canvas, but not walls. So he took the cabinet doors off in the kitchen and painted throughout, then scrubbed down the doors and painted the trim... they are dated, but look so much better with new fresh paint. And he did some closet doors too. Tomorrow they go back up and then I can start filling them. After I buy some dishes and glassware.... on the boat everything is plastic.
And I know that lots of the things we need won't be found and purchased right away... our homeowners are coming home in May sometime... no definite date yet. So if I don't have dressers to put my clothes in, boxes or suitcases will work just fine. I am not going to sweat the details... things fall into place for us when they are meant to be. They always have. As long as it is clean and safe, I am happy.
It has been fun and stressful at the same time. And during all of this, we keep training for our half marathon to be run May 13th... running and working out and trying to eat properly and get some sleep... and keep blogging and cooking and looking after this yard and this house and these kitties..... and keep smiling and being nice to each other through it all!
And oh yeah, Spring cleaning on the sailboat is going to have to wait a while longer! Yesterday we went to visit her and I know she looks a bit forlorn with some Winter 'green' on her decks and canvas.
I have placed 7 large blue-glazed pots across the front of our 14 foot wide balcony... and now I will be doing a bit of gardening again too. I am quite excited about that. I think I will get some tomatoes and some herbs and some flowers, too, for The Captain.
So, yes, this has been a wonderful, fun, interesting, eye-opening, motivating and busy year for me.
Thanks for sharing it with me.