Feed on
Posts
Comments

Quilting Wednesday

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

I feel like I’ve posted a hundred versions of this photo. (That’s why I tried to get Freckles to pose with it but she’s tired of it too.) I’ve been stuck on this hand pieced quilt because of hand injuries all year. But now I finally have the first three rows together! I put them back in the sewing room so I can quit looking at them and pulled out row four to sew together.

I started a baby quilt for my boss’ wife. The baby is due in December so I figured I better get a move on. I am impressed with the fact that the quilt coordinates so nicely with the kitty litter box in the photo.

Monster Dash 5K

I took Z to her first 5K on Saturday. I didn’t really mean to. I signed up because it was a costume-wearing opportunity. Then I realized that they had trick or treating so I decided to take her. But, I didn’t know what to do with her while I ran so I decided that she was doing the 5K too.

I was going to be a fairy but at the last minute I couldn’t find my wings so I went with witch.

Z was Merida from Brave.

We got there early to sign her up and this guy was running around sneaking up on people.

Z completely lost her mind. Oh the joys of an autistic kid who is not firmly tethered to reality and who I forgot to medicate! She ended up screaming and crying because he looked at her. I finally got her to shut up by threatening to take her picture and post it on Facebook. Yeah, if it was true terror that wouldn’t make you shut up so fast.

We got to the start and I explained that because we were going to walk that we would go to the back of the group and let the fast people be up front. She lost her mind. She started yelling that she was a fast person. I said that no, actually she wasn’t and besides I meant people like my dad who race all the time are at the front. She wasn’t having it. I told her that I was going to stay right behind her but if she got separated from me in the initial crowd that she should go to the side of the trail and wait. She said, “You’re right you’re going to be behind me because I’m faster than you.” I’m not opposed to some trash talking but this kid is nasty and out of touch with the reality that she is an overweight, out of shape couch potato. She truly believed that she was fastest person there.

The race starts and she takes off at a full sprint. She’s weaving through people like a maniac. I chase her down in time for her to drop the crown off her head and stop to pick it up and almost get mowed down by a herd of runners. I tell her to stop it because she’s got 3 miles to go and can’t keep this up. She takes off again. I catch up to her at about 1/4 mile where she slows down to breathe. I order her to walk. She does for a few steps and then runs again. At about 1/2 mile she stops and says, “I don’t feel so good.” No kidding, kid.

From there I had her run to landmarks and then walk. We also worked on pacing. She only had a full out sprint and a walk. I set a really slow jogging pace and had her keep up with me for sections.

There were people in costume on the trail.

Eventually we came up to the guy that she was terrified of previously. I told her that all she could do was run. She ran screaming.

It was a nice walk along the towpath of the old canal.

At 1 mile in the leaders were coming back. She started trash talking them. “Why do you have to run so fast? Why are you showing off?”

At 1.5 mile I heard her invoking my father like a deity, “Oh, Grandpa Ron, if you could only help us now!”

I decided she needed a goal so I pointed to some walkers a ways ahead of us and told her that our goal would be to pass them. I was not specific enough. When we passed them, she turned to them and said, “We’re beating you!” I told her that they now had permission to beat her right into the ground if they so desired. For our next people we decided to try to pass I told her that we were going to do it “without being a jerk” and made her repeat it several times.

When they passed us in return she wanted to run but was worn out. She made a big show of “allowing” them to pass her.

At one point she started complaining about me. “How is it even possible that you are faster than me?” I told her that I had longer legs, was in better shape, and worked out more. She didn’t like that explanation. I also told her that I was strolling and asked if she wanted to see me walk fast. She declined.

Soon we were back to the guy she was afraid of. He remembered her and was going to leave her alone but I told him to make her run. He took a step towards her and she screamed and ran.

Flying monkey guy and I stood back and watched her run shrieking down the trail and then high-fived.

I’m just glad we didn’t get chased by these guys.

That game always stressed me out.

We finished in 50 minutes which is my slowest 5K ever but it was good for her to get some exercise.

Tags:

Village of Secrets: Defying the Nazis in Vichy FranceVillage of Secrets: Defying the Nazis in Vichy France by Caroline Moorehead

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Nonfiction

Le Chambon-sur-Lignon is a small village in an inaccessible part of eastern France. It sits high in the mountains and has been a refuge for Protestant French people who wanted to be able to practice their religion freely. This history of valuing religious freedom made the inhabitants of the area willing to hide Jews that were fleeing from the Gestapo.

The other aspect of life in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon that made it a good place to hide was all the children’s homes that had already been set up by the people in the area as missionary work. Jewish children were taken in and hidden in plain sight with the Protestants.

While the story is interesting, the book is a bit difficult to get into. The first 70 pages are background information on the roundup of Jews from all over France. This is information that you need to know to understand where the children that were hidden in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon came from but it feels like you are taking a long time to get the main point. It picks up from there but the cast of characters is large and there isn’t an easy single narrative to follow through the story.

My husband started reading this book while we were in France this month and is enjoying it too.

tlc tour host

Tags:

Musée Marc Chagall

Dreaming of France Meme Eiffel

We visited the Marc Chagall Museum in Nice. It was a bit of a walk from our hotel but not difficult.

“The museum was created during the lifetime of the artist, with the support of the Minister of Culture André Malraux, and inaugurated in 1973.[1] It is also known as the “National Museum Marc Chagall Biblical Message” (“Musée national message biblique Marc Chagall”) as it houses the series of seventeen paintings illustrating the biblical message, painted by Chagall and offered to the French State in 1966. This series illustrates the books of Genesis, Exodus and the Song of Songs.” – from Wikipedia

They had a free audio set you could get that gave very detailed explanations of each painting. It was too detailed. I didn’t listen to the full explanation of any of them.

I really liked this stained glass window.

When we wanted to leave it was raining so we watched a lot of the hour long movie on his life. It was all in French so the husband said he learned that “Marc Chagall was a man who lived through a lot of different styles of clothing” and “He kept himself busy.”

I’ve been working through the pictures I’ve taken bit by bit to make digital scrapbook pages. This is the one I made for this museum.

Other French posts this week:

Travel with a Sociopath – The bus ride from Nice to Monaco

Village of Secrets by Caroline Moorhead

33

Recent Reviews

Toby Streams the Universe by Maya Lassiter – What happens when a psychic starts to lose control of his abilities?

Tomlinson Hill by Chris Tomlinson – The history of two families in Texas that share the same name. One family owned a plantation and the other is descended from the slaves who worked on the land.

Oh My Stars by Lorna Landvik – A girl in the Great Depression is in a bus crash in North Dakota and is rescued by people who will change her life.

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell – Jesuits set out to make first contact with an alien race on the planet of Rakhat. It is a disaster and the only person who knows what really happened isn’t telling anyone.

Reading now

The Demon Under the Microscope: From Battlefield Hospitals to Nazi Labs, One Doctor's Heroic Search for the World's First Miracle DrugThe Demon Under the Microscope: From Battlefield Hospitals to Nazi Labs, One Doctor’s Heroic Search for the World’s First Miracle Drug by Thomas Hager

Nonfiction

“The Nazis discovered it. The Allies won the war with it. It conquered diseases, changed laws, and single-handedly launched the era of antibiotics. This incredible discovery was sulfa, the first antibiotic. In The Demon Under the Microscope, Thomas Hager chronicles the dramatic history of the drug that shaped modern medicine.” – from Goodreads

Tags:

Saturday Snapshot

Sunset over the Mediterranean on the Prominade des Anglais in Nice France.

Linking up with West Metro Mommy Reads

Looking for Potter-heads

Are you a Potter Head? Do you….

Sometimes find yourself whispering a spell under your breath at a family member, co-worker, or friend?

I so wish that Accio really worked.

Get excited every time you see one of the movies playing on TV?

I got really excited when the husband wanted to see them.

Have now or ever in your past used a Harry Potter type of ring tone (this also counts if your phone case has now or ever been Harry Potter)?

Current ring tone!

Own(ed) any sort of Potter paraphernalia – IE. Article of clothing, movies, costumes, a wand, board game, posters, bookmarks, signs… ok – you know what I mean ;).

I feel very strongly about my Hedwig mug.

Ever went to Universal Studies in Orlando mainly because of Harry Potter World?

Yup.

Recited movie lines or profound Dumbledore quotes with a sense of superiority?

No, but I might need to start.

Well… if you said yes to any of the above. YOU are a Potter Head. And this post is for you.

Sheila over at Book Journey is running a Harry Potter reread starting Nov.1. Besides reading the books you can earn points for your house for commenting on blogs and other activities.

I’m trying to read Harry Potter in French anyway so this is a good excuse to keep working on that.

g2b

I’m going to be in Ravenclaw for the challenge so come and join us!

#BookBlogWriMo

I’m joining #BookBlogWriMo in November.

What is #BookBlogWriMo?

Basically, it’s a lax version of NaNoWriMo for book bloggers. I created prompts for each day, discussing different topics around books, blogging, and books + blogging.

BookBlogWriMo-Schedule

Toby Streams the UniverseToby Streams the Universe by Maya Lassiter

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Fiction

Toby is a psychic. He can tell a person’s past, present, and future. His gift is getting steadily stronger and that is a problem. Toby comes from a family of psychics. Eventually the contact with The Stream makes them all insane. His grandfather has been kept in a drug-induced coma for years. His father, who preached control and secrecy to his children, just disappeared.

Toby has been reading a book written by many generations of his family members as they tried to deal with their psychic abilities. Most committed suicide by the age of 35. Toby is 29.

Being able to see into the minds of strangers has made Toby a recluse.  Any contact with the outside world is done through his personal assistant, Penelope, who he has never met.

It is getting harder for Toby to cut off access to The Stream.  It paralyzes him in public.  Every time he uses it he needs more alcohol to make it stop.  But his best friend is now a PI and wants him to help with missing person cases.  He accidentally reads Penelope over the phone and realizes that her toddler son is dying.  His younger sister is also psychic and has decided on a date for her suicide.  It is time to figure out if this can be controlled or if a steady descent into madness is all that he has to look forward to in life.

There is one entry in the family history that offers clues.  Agatha talked about being able to control it but the majority of her entries have been ripped out of the book.  Should he follow her lead or will that just make him lose control more quickly?

What could you do if you knew the future?  Can you change it?  Should you try? 

 

Tags:

Tomlinson Hill: Sons of Slaves, Sons of SlaveholdersTomlinson Hill: Sons of Slaves, Sons of Slaveholders by Chris Tomlinson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Nonfiction – audio

AP journalist Chris Tomlinson knew that his family had been early settlers in Texas and that they owned a plantation named Tomlinson Hill. He was taught to be proud of his ancestors and was told repeatedly by his grandfather that the family’s slaves loved them so much that when they were freed they took the Tomlinson name.

LaDanian Tomlinson grew up visiting his grandmother who lived on Tomlinson Hill. He thought that the area had been named for his family until he read a historical marker that discussed the plantation.

Chris had always wondered about the Tomlinsons who were descended from his family’s slaves. He first heard of LaDanian when he was making a name for himself playing college football and then followed that with a career in the NFL. He wondered if there was a connection.

Chris spent years reporting on racial conflicts in Africa. He decided to write about racial tensions closer to home by exploring the dynamics of the two Tomlinson families.

This book goes deep into Texas history. It focus more on the white family than the black family most likely because of the availability of historical records. Because I was listening to it on audio it could get confusing at times when I would start confusing people with similar first names and not have a way to refer back to previous chapters.

It veers away from a strict family history often and goes into the larger picture so it definitely reads more like a history textbook than a family saga. I did learn more about the role of Texas in the Civil War than I knew before though.

Tags: ,

Life of a Blogger is hosted at Novel Heartbeat to learn more about the weird stuff in our lives.

The origin of Heather is Celtic and comes from the plant.

heather2

That’s pretty straightforward but my name confused family members. My grandfather had never heard a name as strange as mine so my mother finally explained that I was named after a flower. He understood that and called me Blossom. A few years later they had a pony who had a foal named Blossom and I’m still not clear if she was named after me or if he only knew a few names and had to recycle.

I have an uncle that insisted on calling me Tabitha. No explanation was ever forthcoming.

I used Rick Steves’ guidebook to prepare for our trip to Nice.

The most useful part of the book for me was the inclusion of the bus numbers that went to different sites and having the bus stops on a map. I don’t know where I would have gotten that information without this book. I was all over the bus system’s website and couldn’t find it easily.

We decided to try to take the bus from Nice to Monaco because Rick made it seem easy. Just jump on the 100 bus and for 1,5 euro you go to Monaco. He even suggested that you make sure you get a seat on the right side of the bus to get the best views.

Armed with this cheerful knowledge we strolled to the bus stop. Our first clue that this might be a bit different than Rick had led us to believe was the vast numbers of people milling around the stop.

We wandered towards the front of the line to make sure we were lining up for the right thing. That’s how long the line was. From the back we could have been lining up for anything. We were promptly yelled at by a man who accused us of line jumping.

Assured that this was a line for the bus, we got in the back. Two buses pulled up. One opened the doors right in front of us. Our part of the line got on whilst enduring the hateful glares of the people who were actually ahead of us in line but found themselves without a place on either bus – including Monsieur I Hate Line Jumpers himself.

There was no getting a seat on the right. It was standing room only and they were packing that bus like a sardine can.

I got a spot standing in a spot for wheelchairs just behind a group of four seats that were facing each other.  For the rest of story, do refer to this professionally drawn graphic.

Untitled-1

Seat A – Elderly British lady
Seat B – 40ish British lady
Seat C – a guy
Seat D – Elderly British lady

They were sitting in yellow seats which means that old people and disabled people are given priority.

So this French lady gets on the bus. She has an umbrella. (From this point on we will be referring to this as sa parapluie because that is my favorite French word. I was thrilled that it was raining because I got to use the word a lot.)

She starts yelling at the British people in French. Her point was that they were sitting in seats reserved for old people and she wanted the seat. Now she was noticeably younger than the older British ladies so they just looked at her. She started jabbing sa parapluie into the ribs of the guy in seat C.

The lady in seat D jumps up and offers her seat. Non! The angry French woman wants seat C. She keeps hitting the guy until he stands up. It is immediately obvious that he is disabled. He had severe balance issues. The angry French woman recoils. She starts yelling about how she didn’t know he was sick. This wasn’t an act of contrition. She was spitting out the words with scorn and hate.

The lady in seat B gives the crazy French lady her seat. The woman took it but sat with her knees out in the aisle (which was jammed with people) and glared at the world probably because she had to sit near a person she deemed inferior. She kept her back firmly to him.

After about 20 minutes the British people want off the bus. The French lady sprang into action. She let C and D go while making sure C didn’t touch her. She started then brandishing sa parapluie like a weapon. She was like a ninja with that thing. No one was going to get into those empty seats. She actually had the lady from seat A trapped up against the window for a bit until she snapped at the wild French woman. “You could wait until people get out!”

The French ninja sat in C and kept beating sa parapluie on A. She grudgingly allowed other old ladies to sit in B and D. Guess who she was saving A for? Her 20-something non-disabled daughter!

Crazy old bat! I’ve never seen anything like it and I’ve ridden the bus in South America.

The bus did get us there though for cheap and with a story that we probably would have missed on the train. We planned on taking the train back but the 100 bus stopped in front of us as we were on our way to the train station so we got on. This time it wasn’t crowded and we got a good seat and the ride went much more like we read about it in the guidebook.

Tags: ,

Oh My StarsOh My Stars by Lorna Landvik
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Historical fiction

Violet Mathers is growing up in the Great Depression. She’s motherless and friendless until she starts working in a factory at night. There she starts to finally fit in until an accident destroys her world again. Depressed, she decides to go to California to jump of the Golden Gate Bridge but the bus she is riding in crashes in North Dakota and changes her life.

Violet is taken in by the Hedstrom family. The son in the family, Kjel, is a musician who is forming a band with two brothers. The band is mixed race which is controversial in the 1930s, to say the least. They take Violet on a road tour with them because Kjel feels sorry for her and she shows enough business acumen that she becomes their manager.

The author uses the framework of a touring band in the 1930s to discuss race relations and music and the role of women in society.

Tags:

The Sparrow (The Sparrow, #1)The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Science Fiction

In 2019 a radio telescope picks up the first songs broadcast by an alien race. While the world governments tried to decide what to do, the Jesuits did what they always did when new civilizations were found. They went to explore them.

The Jesuits got a several-year head start on other exploration teams.  By the time the next people from Earth reached Rakhat they found only one survivor of the original mission.  Father Emilio Sandoz was physically maimed and emotionally broken.  They got him back on his ship and set the auto pilot to Earth.

Now it is 12 years since the radio reports of Father Sandoz’s rescue reached Earth and his ship has just arrived.  The Jesuits have secluded him in Italy to get his side of the sensational story that the other human team sent.  But Father Sandoz is not talking.

The story alternates from there from how the original crew of eight people met each other, traveled to Rahkat, and lived and died there and the present time with the interrogation of Emilio Sandoz.  I liked this format because it added a layer to the suspense.  You knew the mission was a disaster but you didn’t know how.  As you were meeting all these people and getting to know and like them there was always that black cloud ahead.

The writing is very good and draws you in quickly.  I read this book over a few days because I found it hard to put down.  I wanted to know what happened..  I enjoyed the flashbacks to before the mission and I liked the interrogation chapters but I found the time on Rakhat fairly boring.

There are some plot points that I want to complain about but I can’t without giving everything away so I’ve started my very own spoiler page.  Now I can rant about things that I want to in peace.

Tags:

Nice France

Dreaming of France Meme Eiffel

We just got back from a week’s vacation based in Nice, France. We also made trips to Vence in Provence, Monaco, and Ventimiglia, Italy.

I’ll be posting about our French adventures weekly with Dreaming of France. The Monaco and Italy posts will be at other times. I posted about the cathedral in Monaco.

We stayed at the Hotel Victor Hugo, which is actually a guesthouse. There are only a few rooms.

It is on the first floor of a building that also has medical offices and some apartments, I think.

This is the boss of the hotel.

Her name is Cosette. She comes with her person, who is the human manager, every morning at 8. She greeted us whenever we opened the door, accompanied us to the breakfast room in case we hadn’t read the signs saying not to feed her, and sometimes made herself at home in our room.

We had a suite of two rooms. There was a bedroom and a room with a table and chairs and a small refrigerator, sink, and microwave.

We booked the suite because we know that European hotel rooms are really small by American standards and we wanted the extra space. We used it mostly for the suitcases.

The only thing that could be a problem for visitors is the bathroom size. The shower head is high for tall people but the toilet is a bit tricky. I’m 5’6 and the husband is just a bit shorter than me. When I sat on the toilet my knees hit the wall in front of me. You sort of had to shuffle sideways to get to sit down at all. I’m not sure what contortions taller people would have to go through to fit on there.

The location of the hotel was great. It was a 10 minute walk to the train station in one direction, 10 minutes to the heart of the commercial district in another, and 5 minutes to the beach. The street was very quiet and had a very different feel from the rest of the city. You could tell when you reached it without even seeing signs.

There is a plan to build a subway under this street. Construction is starting this month and is supposed to be done in 14 months according to the signs. We don’t believe it. I’m going to keep watching the news on it just to see what happens.

There was a good Sicilian restaurant down the road. The husband’s family is Sicilian so we ended up there enough that the waiters knew his “usual” dessert.

Baking Cakes in KigaliBaking Cakes in Kigali by Gaile Parkin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fiction

Angel Tungaraza is from Tanzania, but she is living in Kigali Rwanda while her husband is teaching at a local university. They live with their five grandchildren in a compound that houses other expats working in Rwanda. Angel has started a cake making business. People come to her to order a cake for the happy moments in their lives and they confide their secrets to her.

There is not an overall plot to the book. People come to order a cake and we hear about their lives in post-genocide Rwanda. Some are survivors of the massacre. Others have family members in prison for participating in it. Some have come to help with the international reconstruction efforts (and to earn extra money for living in a “dangerous” area which confuses Angel who feels perfectly safe.)

This format allows discussion of the role of AIDS in central African society. Do you talk about it? If so, how? Do you acknowledge when people are sick and tell the truth about what they have?

How do you encourage women, expat and native Rwandan, to make more of their lives especially when there is so much misogyny? One of the first encounters is for a cake for a baby’s birth. They wanted a boy but this daughter is cute so they named her Goodenough.

The compound security guard has impregnated two women. One has already given birth to a boy and the other is due soon. He’s waiting to see who he will marry. If the other child is a girl he’ll marry the woman who gave him a boy.

On the surface the encounters about baking a cake seem like a light story but each of the people reveal more about life after tragedy.

The author is a white woman who was born and raised in Zambia. Many reviews of these books make an issue of that. “She was born in Africa but she’s not African,” is an actual quote which I think shows more lack of cultural understanding than what they are complaining about.

There is a sequel to this book which is told from the point of view of one of the grandchildren. I’ve put that on my TBR list.

Tags:

We’re back from our trip to the south of France. I’ll be posting France stories on Mondays for the Dreaming of France linkup but we spent some time in two other countries also.

Cathédrale Notre-Dame-Immaculée is in Monaco.

It was consecrated in 1875. There was a church on the site beginning in 1252.

This is the church where Grace Kelly married Prince Ranier.

They are both buried here.

The altar

The husband, who is sensitive to ghost stuff, reacted badly to this church. As soon as he entered he said it was overwhelming. I am a supportive wife so when he said that the ghosts were yelling at him I asked, “In French?” I mean, how would he know what they were yelling if he doesn’t speak French? I just got glared at. He ended up going outside and I wandered around and took more pictures of the ceiling.

I really liked the side aisles.

They have a state of the art organ.

I eventually went out and found the husband. He’s never been bothered by visiting churches before. Maybe it is all the graves in this one.

Tags:

Enchantress: A Novel of Rav Hisda's DaughterEnchantress: A Novel of Rav Hisda’s Daughter by Maggie Anton

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Historical fiction/historical fantasy

Hisdadukh is the daughter of an important Rabbi in fourth-century Babylonia. As a child she was asked which of his star pupils she would like to marry, Rami or Rava. She answered that she would marry both of them. This set up a rivalry between them that worsened when Hisdadukh married Rami.  After Rami’s early death, many people including Hisdadukh blamed Rava, so how could she ever marry him?

This is the second book in the story of Hisdadukh.  They really need to be read together to understand the full story.  Jews in Babylonia at this time lived in a world of study and of magic.  The men in the story are all Torah scholars.  They spend their time debating fine points of law.  These debates and rulings were eventually written down and became the Talmud.  The characters in these stories are taken from references in the Talmud.

The women at this time lived in a world of magic.  This is based on archeological evidence of curse tablets and amulets found.  In these books the magic is real and Hisdadukh is a strong practitioner.  She treats illness and injuries and attends childbirths.  She makes protective amulets for children and pregnant women.

As she gets more powerful she becomes a rival to other women and needs to learn to defend herself and her family.  Rava also comes back to her.  They are drawn together even though she does not fully understand or trust him.  He seems suspicious of her also but their lives keep putting them together so they need to learn to deal with each other.

A lot of the conversations in the book is either detailed points of law or magic.  At times it gets hard to remember that you are actually reading historical fiction and not reading about a made up fantasy world.

I really like this author’s books so I was excited to be involved in the book tour for Enchantress.

Add to GR Button

Enchantress Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, October
6

Review at Unshelfish

Review at Book
Drunkard

Tuesday, October
7

Review at Ageless Pages Reviews

Wednesday, October
8

Review at A
Dream Within a Dream

Thursday, October
8

Guest Post at Bookish

Friday, October
9

Guest Post & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Monday, October
13

Review at Book
Lovers Paradise

Tuesday, October
14

Review at leeanna.me

Spotlight & Giveaway at Words and Peace

Wednesday, October
15

Review at Based on a True
Story

Thursday, October
16

Review at Mari
Reads

Friday, October
17

Interview at Layered
Pages

Tuesday, October
21

Review at History From A Woman’s Perspective

Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews

Wednesday, October
22

Guest Post at History From A Woman’s Perspective

Thursday, October
23

Review at Layered
Pages

Spotlight at A Book
Geek

Friday, October
24

Review at Beth’s Book
Reviews

Interview at Mina’s
Bookshelf

Saturday, October
25

Review & Interview at A Cup of Tea & A Big Book

Monday, October
27

Review at TeacherWriter

Tuesday, October
28

Review at My
Book Addiction and More

Spotlight at Historical Tapestry

Wednesday, October
29

Review at A
Bookish Affair

Thursday, October
30

Review at Book
Nerd

Tags:

How to Afford Travel

This is the post I meant to write before I got distracted by discussions of privilege.

So many people think that foreign travel is a hugely expensive endeavor that they can’t hope to accomplish. I’m cheap and I do it. Here’s some things I do.

How to Pay for Flights Over Time with No Fees

I mentioned in the last post that I’m debt free. I think only bankruptcy will destroy your credit faster than being debt free. So when I decided that I wanted to get a credit card to accumulate frequent flyer miles, I couldn’t qualify for one. I had to take a stepwise approach. I applied for a poor-credit person’s credit card with a $1000 limit. I would use it for one meal a month and pay it off. After about 8 months I was able to get a card with a higher limit.

Then I booked my flights. I put them on the higher limit card. A month later I paid off half that bill from my bank account and put the rest on the old lower limit card. A month later I did it again – half on the first card and half from the bank account. Then I paid it off the next month. This only works if you remember to pay off the cards before you get any interest fees. I stretched out paying for my flights over several months.

You can do the same thing with prepaid hotel rooms or rental cars.

Stay Cheap

I don’t care where I stay. The husband is a super snob about it. Left to my own devices I’d stay in hostels or B and Bs and save more money. He won’t so we spend more than I like here. I do a lot of research to find deals.

Travel Off-Season

My job is most busy in the summer so we travel in either May or October. Prices are lower in the off-season. Rick Steves calls this the shoulder season when most things are still open but the crowds are gone.

Pick a Destination Based on Price

That’s why we went to Portugal. We looked at a map and acknowledged that Portugal was so much closer to us than Italy where we were researching. Shorter flights are cheaper usually. Lisbon in November isn’t a tourist Mecca so prices were low.

Self Serve

Public transportation instead of car rental – Americans aren’t used to combative driving so we probably shouldn’t try. We plan our trips around available public transportation. We get hotels near train stations. We look at local train routes to figure out what day trips we could take.

We don’t book with tour groups. It is so much cheaper to do your research at home and head out on your own.

Go With the Flow

There is a temptation to want to see everything if you are only going to be there once so people plan every minute. You know what our plan is for this trip to France? I know the names of the towns on the local train lines. I know what things are available to see in each area. That’s it. We’ll decide what we want to see each day. We aren’t locked into prepaid activities that we have to do even if we don’t feel like it at the time.

What a Privilege

I’m writing this in a wine bar in an airport waiting to head to France. In the last few days as people have realized we are going I heard a lot of amazed statements. I was planning on writing a post about how people should allow themselves to believe that travel is possible and then they would see that they can find ways to make it happen.

Then I read a few articles that all had the theme that the ability to travel the world is yet another example of privilege that people need to acknowledge. This whole “check your privilege” thing is getting annoying. Yep, I’m a white woman in a professional job who has the money and flexibility to travel. I’m lucky but consider how I got here.

The Money To Travel

I chose this job. It is not a job you choose for the money, by the way. I spent my entire life getting together the academic and personal qualifications to get into school to get this job. I wasn’t one of those kids getting drunk in high school or college and blowing off class.

My education came with student loans. It took me 15 years to pay them off.

I’ve chosen to live below my means. I live in a decent house but it isn’t a dream house. We could afford more but why be house poor just to show off? This meets my needs. My clothes almost all come from thrift stores. I don’t waste money paying retail. This frees up money that I could use for travel.

I drive a 10 year old Honda and plan on continuing to drive it until it dies because it is paid for. No car payment can equal one trip a year.

I’m debt free. That is a choice that was made because the freedom to be able to make decisions that are not entirely constrained by finances is a priority. It didn’t magically happen. We put in the work.

I’ve chosen not to have children.

Time to Travel

I can take time off with enough advance notice and if another doctor can cover the shift. It isn’t paid. I actually qualified for 1 week of paid vacation last year for the first time in a 17 year career.

Talking about privilege makes it sound like someone waved a magic wand and decided that I was going to be a lucky person who could travel and everyone else is just out of luck. It doesn’t take personal decisions into account. It says “Look at her. She’s a white professional person. Of course, she can do things I can’t.” It smacks of the racism and classism that it pretends to avoid.

Older Posts »