Tuesday, August 27, 2013

It's Always Somethin'

In the last post I noted how my work and savings plan got sidetracked by a short period of unemployment. I was able to get back to work after just a couple of weeks so I dodged what could have been a substantial bullet.

But, as Rosanne Rosannadanna said, "It's always somethin'!" Last week I had a second bout in as many months of severe abdominal pain and decided I better go to a doctor to see what was going on. It turns out it was appendicitis so I missed another half week of work. I work on contract and get paid by the hour without any paid leave, so with the loss of work time and the high deductible in my health insurance, this little episode is going to take another chunk out of my planned savings.

I can't complain though; Surgery was on a Thursday morning and by Saturday morning I was already off the pain meds and I was back to work on Monday feeling fine. The wonders of modern medicine!

I still have 84 weeks to go, according to the plan, but even without the loss of work and the medical bills I was watching the trajectory of my savings fall somewhat short of what I had planned. Not that that's going to make me change my plans - they're cast in stone. I'll go with less money saved than I originally planned, but nothing will keep me from the next pilgrimage. The dream of setting out on the next saunter from the Mediterranean in Barcelona is the only thing that keeps me going these days.

I've purchased a couple of guides (actually two volumes of the same guide) to the Via Francigena that will take me from Arles, France to Vercelli, Italy (volume 1) and then from Vercelli to Rome (volume 2). Google maps will get me from Barcelona to Montpellier, where I can join the Camino de Santiago route that begins in Arles. Then I'll just walk the Camino in reverse to Arles and pick up the French offshoot of the Via Francigena from there. At Vercelli I'll join up with the more common route of the Via that begins at Canterbury, making its way through France and Switzerland.

In the mean time I try to keep in shape as much as possible with hikes in the mountains and walking where I need to go when practical. I've purchased a pair of custom boots from Esatto. (Esatto.biz) Alex, the cobbler, has already made some adjustments in the fit - even though I took careful measurements of my feet, including a tracing of the outline of both feet, the boots were not quiet long enough. My feet are funny that way. Alex adjusted them and now they're almost right, but still not quite long enough. They fit today, but I know from experience that my feet will lengthen after a couple hundred miles and I'll need extra length. (A podiatrist told me that this was common.) Everywhere else around my feet the boots feel great. They're snug with my extra thick wool socks but not tight and don't appear to rub anywhere or cause any pain points after taking several mountain hikes in them the way off-the-shelf boots always did. They're well made and look to be perfect for a walk to Rome and beyond.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Back at it

Here I am, back in the great state of Washington, working and socking away as much as I can save to prepare for my next pilgrimage and another "attempt at the summit," moving to Spain to write, teach English, and become a permanent resident. 

All was going well. I was making steady progress toward my financial goals, even if not quite reaching the lofty goal I had set for myself. But life is full of surprises and you have to be able to roll with the punches. 

I had taken a contract project management position with T-Mobile, which has recently purchased itself from Deutsche Telecom. You know when something like that happens in the business world that major, wholesale changes are coming. Prepare yourself for a wild ride where you might just get thrown overboard. 

When you take a job on contract, a temporary position, you know that you have to be prepared to lose your job at any time. But even a temp, a contractor, expects to be treated fairly and with some measure of ethics. If I were to leave the job, fairness and ethics toward my employer dictates that I would give two weeks' notice. That's standard and common in these United States. 

T-Mobile, on the other hand, saw fit to call all the contract employees in the group in which I worked into a meeting and tell us that our services were no longer needed; don't bother coming into work tomorrow. No warning, no severance pay, nothing. This was three days after we had received word that our contracts had been renewed and budget was secure for the remainder of the year. I showed them, though. I switched my mobile phone service to AT&T. So there.

The good news is that I've been able to find another contract and have just completed my first week back at work at a substantially more challenging (read, stressful) job. A couple of weeks of unemployment put a little dent into the savings plan, but I think I can recover if I watch my budget. 

Well, life is what it is and every challenge brings an opportunity for growth. I'm looking forward to the change.

I’ve been able to take a few hikes to keep in shape and enjoy the breathtaking scenery that Northwest Washington those who make the effort to get out of the major cities. If I have to be absent from Spain, I suppose Washington is the second-best place to be.
Heading to the mountains for a hike: The view from the highway.