Saturday, April 8, 2017

Choice and thinking outside the box

Cruisers tend to be people who think outside the box. Being adaptable seems a common trait, as well as not being afraid of change.

We decided to change our course for a while with our choice to stop traveling and buy a land based home. We don’t feel anchored down by our house. Not only did we opt to buy a house in an affordable area, but we also know that we could easily rent out our house when we decide to travel again. In choosing where to buy, thinking out of the box guided our decision. Maintaining a balance in work/play is essential in our life. Our home base in Berkeley, CA did not meet the criteria of affordability and living a balanced lifestyle if we wanted to live on land. A great innovative public school system in walk able distance from our house was another important element in our choice. I watched some TED talks by Sir Ken Robinson, and was intrigued by his thinking about creativity and education. He mentioned IB (International Baccalaureate) schools as one example “that encourages personal creativity, self-sufficiency, and initiative in a way that a lot of the other standardized systems simply do not”.  While we have no experience with this type of school yet, we visited the public schools in Shaker Heights which offers the IB program from kindergarten to high school, and we liked what we saw. When we discussed our future travel plans with the principal, he was all aboard, and mentioned he had successfully worked with another sailing family!

Even in the few months we have lived here, we can get a sense of community that is here. Our neighbors keep a street roster, which is actively used, and we got a warm welcome when we arrived. There is a walking ‘school bus’ on our street, where parents rotate to pick up and walk all the young kids on our street to the school. We have had a mid- winter street happy hour where we got to know some of our neighbors. We needed a ladder a few days ago, and just like in the marina where people help each other out, within 15 minutes after I sent an email to the whole street, I got 5 responses. Word is out that the Easter bunny will visit our street, and an egg hunt will be going on in the small yards on our street. It’s the kind of community we were looking for once we decided to buy a home.

Is it all perfect? No, no place is. The weather is something to get used too, coming from the year round mild climate in the Bay area. People do tend to hibernate here in the winter, and we have been sometimes the only ones playing outside in the snow on the street (in the weekends we have seen other kids also sledding on the golf course 500 yrs from our house). I also miss not living on/next to the water, and only time will tell how I will cope with that. But the biggest difference between a land based life (in lots of places) and a cruising life is the fact that you are surrounded by few people with more unscheduled/free time, without a regular full time job with fixed hours.  


Seven more weeks and the Bliss crew will be traveling again. We will be flying to San Francisco, house sitting for friends for 10 days in Berkeley, and then pick up our rv Betsy to do a cross country road trip. Haven’t figured out the exact route yet, but we are flexible and are in no hurry. As long as we are back for the big block part on our street!

also mid winter, fun at the farm
and yes, temp differences of 30 degrees per day sometimes!

snow plowers piling up snow up again our gate

fun edible book festival at great independent bookstore in town


tasty west side market in Cleveland

on a walk on another sunny winter day 

this is our cross street

garbage pick up in our yard, the little ones go in the drive ways,
dumping in the big garbage truck waiting on the street

on my 10 min walk to the supermarket

welcome gifts from our sweet neighbors on both sides

Friday, January 13, 2017

Changes for the Bliss crew

Radio silence from the Bliss crew for a while. It' been almost 2 months since we got back from Italy, and landed in Ohio to celebrate Thanksgiving with Tod's family.  And we are still here, with Tod's parents as gracious hosts!

So, what's brewing?  In a nutshell, the captains decided that we wanted to create a land home base for 2 to 3 years before we plan to embark on the big sail across the Pacific when Tessa is about 7/8 yrs old.  We got our heads spinning on where we would create that home base, and options within and outside the US were on the table. We had a list of important criteria, but in the end we decided that for now we want Tessa to be in close proximity to her only grand parents, whom she adores. Tod had told me about a liberal, highly educated and diverse community near Cleveland, where Tod went to college. We checked it out, visited several innovative primary public schools, and were charmed by the tree lined streets, 100 yrs old character homes, the fact that kids walk to school, and the sense of community.  Combining this with other criteria of affordability, walk and bike friendly, relatively close near water, and 4 seasons to name a few, we decided to buy in home in Shaker Heights. The city knows how to attract people with its website and free, informative city tours( read more here).

Next week we will get our keys of our house (for both of us, this is the first house we are buying). All of a sudden we have a big (for us at least) house to fill, and our meager belongings are either in Mexico aboard Bliss, or in our RV in the San Francisco Bay area. Being a minimalist and having a sailboat as my main home for years, it isn't an easy transition, but I have had my portion of fun checking out consignment stores, and scoring us some great deals through Craigslist.

Are we done traveling for the next 2 to 3 years? Oh no! Even for just this year, we are still considering a trip to Bliss this winter, and if not, than for sure a road trip  with Betsy from San Francisco to Shaker Heights this summer. We will keep updating this blog with new adventures in life, and for now, that is back to land. Oh, and visitors are welcome, we got plenty of space!

Our almost 100 yrs old home in Shaker Heights.
Our neighbors gave us a list of all the families who live on our street,
and there are plenty of kids for Tessa to play with!

We wanted snow, and that's what we got mid December.
We bought ourselves some good weather clothes, and had fun.
But NE Ohio weather is changing too, there are days of 50 degrees in there too.
How we will do with this weather, we will see, all part of the test.




Dress up clothes available at the library

our never shy girl did not want to sit or talk with Santa Claus

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

our last days in Italy

Next Monday we fly back to the US, and our 12 weeks stint in Europe will be coming to an end. Highlights have been our trip to the Netherlands, connecting again with my dear relatives and friends, and the other great visits from and to friends. Lucky us, we have build some great memories here! It's also been a time that Tessa started to draw a lot, give her some paper and markers and she will go at it. We will miss the people  here, the amazing food (really can you ever eat enough fresh pasta and fresh cheese?), Tod speaking and understanding Italian (he knows more than he let me believe), and scenery in Lombardia. I won't miss Italian drivers though, seriously they drive me crazy.

Tessa, when you are old enough to read this blog, you might remember there were some days your parents were sad here in Italy, because the newly elected president of the USA does not share our values and has made statements that are very mean and very offensive to people. You stated that you could be president, and I have hope that your generation, and the current younger generations will make their marks on a better and more peaceful world.

Ciao ciao for now, we depart with some random pictures of our last weeks here in Lombardia, northern Italy.

Agriturismo is great! At a working farm here near Varese,
where you can also have lunch and dinner

hard to resist...have been eating tiramisu almost daily
time to go back, and lose some weight

on an awesome hike near Lecco with friends




could some one be more happy than visit a
dinosaur park, even on a foggy day?

gotta study my map where to go next


a trip with friends to Leolandia, Thomas &
Peppa pig house where the favorites




even the freeway provides gorgeous views going north

Villa Real at Monza Park, a huge park where you can spend hours




Tessa learning all about stick man at school

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Local dates and visiting dear friends in Switzerland

While Tessa is enjoying her school, Tod and I are jumping on the occasion to explore some places together on his days off.  Having a great lunch is always the center of those dates, but we manage to be active some times too. One morning we climbed up 1500 feet to Brunate (the path started next to our apartment in Como), then took the Funicolare back to the lake.  Last week we visited the old town of Bergamo, and enjoyed wondering around inside the old city walls, and eat amazing pastries that we had not seen here before (yes, that was before we had a big lunch..)

With our dear friends Ana and Christian relatively close by (4.5 hrs drive to Neuchatel in Switzerland), we 'hopped" over for a weekend, get to celebrate, meet some of their friends, and as always enjoyed their company. Too short, my friends, we have to meet up again somewhere! Fun to see signs in Italian, German and French during that drive into Switzerland.


looking down to lake Como

you gotta "earn you lunch"

one of the many old and pretty buildings in Bergamo

entering through the old city walls


fun and artistic storefronts
 


feed me a donkey


ah, the joy of sitting in a restaurant without
having to run after your 4 yrs old 

love how Italian offer a digestiva on the house after meals,
this one was home made
 




Ana, we are missing you in our pictures!

deserted downtown neuchatel on a Sunday morning




getting ready for the Halloween party at school
with little choices close by, I got creative with a needle and fabric