what’s keeping us sane. . .sort of

The news. Binge watching TV shows. Drinking. Overeating.

Just kidding (a little).

After six weeks of self-islolation, we’ve had to get creative, or at least be more thoughtful, about how to spend our socially distanced time. We acknowledge our privilege and good fortune every day, especially when we see news stories about people who are truly affected, often tragically so, by the corona virus and COVID-19. We have a safe home, Phil has a studio in our backyard where he can get away from me, I have my job when so many have lost theirs, and we have so far been able to stay comfortable and safe.

We really miss being able to get out. As aspiring Roamers, we love the adventure of travel, whether it’s a big trip to France (planned for July but almost certainly to be cancelled) or a day trip in the Texas Hill Country. Today I was struck by the fact that many of our diversions are things we won’t be able to do when we’re full-time Roamers. Phil won’t have a studio with all the latest equipment, and we won’t have a house or yard. The notion that in two years we won’t get to do things we can do even under quarantine heightens enjoyment and reminds me how precious every day is.


I love to cook and fully intend to make most of our meals when we’re roaming.  But I’m not a baker (probably because in baking you have to follow instructions, and I don’t like to do that!), and when we’re roaming, it’s unlikely I’ll have the opportunity to do much baking. So during our isolation I’ve taken up sourdough bread baking.  On the fourth try I actually got a beautiful and delicious result! This will do nicely until the day we walk to a local European bakery for the day’s bread.

My first successful whole grain sourdough bread!


We both go for lots of walks in our neighborhood. But on Saturday I really, really needed to get out of the neighborhood, so we drove to a nearby nature trail. We got to TALK to PEOPLE (only to say hi as we passed them on the trail, leaving six feet between us), look at some beautiful wildflowers, and exercise our (frankly overfed) bodies. Of course, we’ll walk all the time when we’re Roamers, but for now we get to appreciate our familiar “Little Bit of Heaven” here in the Hill Country.

The path we walked this weekend.


I’m not a skilled or experienced gardener, but I love nothing more than serving food I grew (arugula and tomato salad, anyone?). And gardening is something I won’t be able to do when we’re roamers, so I plan to enjoy the heck out of it for the next two years. Just today I learned how to kill snails (so gross!) and started drying herbs (crafty,  fun, and frugal!). And I LOVE bringing flowers into the house and arranging them, or just smelling my favorite flowers, gardenias.

Freshly picked herbs drying in the sun!

Here’s hoping this new-found appreciation will last for the next week of confinement! What’s saving your sanity?


Nicole and her kiddos

During this extended self-isolation experience I’ve especially enjoyed one of my favorites, Househunters International.  A fan for years, I even watch repeats of episodes filmed in places I either love or really, really want to visit.  Because the episodes are short, I often watch them during lunch, to get a true break during the workday.

So this week I was watching an episode in Scotland, a place that holds special interest because my paternal great grandfather was born in Glasgow.  The house hunter, American Nicole Ratliff, was an engaging single mom who, with her twin 9-year-olds, was moving there from Mexico to attend the University of St. Andrews.  Interesting, but I was admittedly focused on my yummy avocado toast lunch (topped with leftover grilled sweet potatoes and asparagus, and a fried egg!)—until something grabbed my attention.  I rewound to make sure I’d heard correctly. Yes, Nicole mentioned that at age seven she was diagnosed with spina bifida.  My niece has spina bifida. Hers is a more severe case that was diagnosed prenatally, and she uses a wheelchair.  Nicole walks with a cane, and the stairs in the homes she viewed were a visible challenge for her, but on her limited budget the best she could hope for was a bedroom/bathroom on the ground floor.

I was curious about this woman’s story.  Turns out she became an expat to give her children the experience of living in different places, learning different cultures, and becoming, like her, lifelong learners.  She was pursuing a second master’s degree in social anthropology. But wait, there’s more—her twins also have disabilities (autism and ADD/oppositional defiance disorder).  Nicole left her government job to travel with her kids “to show that because you have a disability, does not mean you should not be able to travel and see the world.” They have a Facebook blog, and as I read it I discovered that they are Roamers!  Currently self-isolating in St. Andrews after having lived in Columbia and Mexico, they are living roaming lives, worldschooling, exploring, and inspiring many people, especially single parents and people with disabilities.  

Phil and I don’t have disabilities.  We don’t have money problems. We’re healthy, we’re white Americans, we’re privileged. And we’re self-isolating here in central Texas, longing for the day when we can resume travel and plan in earnest for our roaming days. But in the meantime, I plan to devote some time every day to gratitude, and to celebrate people like Nicole and her kids, who inspire us all.