New Wheels, A Birth, GDPR & 2 Pieces Of Bad News (It’s 2016 All Over Again…)
Only a few weeks have passed since my last post, but what a lot has happened! We’ve made significant progress on the whole “getting settled in to France” thing, we’ve had some great news and then we’ve been hit with 2 pieces of bad news that make it seem like 2016 all over again (ah, life….)
The Good Stuff -> Settling In To France
Life has been moving on at a good pace here. Betwixt the markets, food and other awesome stuff we’ve gotten a few practical matters taken care of….
Our U-Crate Arrived!
Remember that crate we packed at the RV park in Florida using UPackWeShip back at the end of March?
Well it arrived in France, pretty much exactly 7 weeks after we shipped it from Miami and I’m happy to say it was a smooth and superbly easy process. The shipping guys on the US side gave us regular shipping updates via e-mail, and we were able to track our sailing vessel across the Atlantic pretty much in real time, using free online Cargo Vessel Trackers (e.g. AIS Ship Tracking works great).
On this side of the pond the importers in Europe (located in Rotterdam) were efficient and easy to work with. They asked for a few pieces of additional paperwork by e-mail to prove our residence in France, but otherwise didn’t require anything else. A truck came loaded with our crate on May 7th, exactly as scheduled and dropped it off at the house without a glitch. All our stuff had arrived in exactly the condition we’d shipped it!
I can’t deny it was kinda surreal to see stuff that had been part of 8 years of RV life in the USA show up in France, but it was also nice to get it. We don’t have much, but we have a few things that make us happy. Paul got his tools, I got my bike and we’ve got our books, our kitchen items and some pics on the wall. Makes it feel more like home, you know?
We Have Wheels (Regular Ones, Not An RV…)
The other big event of the month was getting some wheels. Since we’re staying for a while here in France while dad gets treatment and Paul gets legal, it made sense for us to be mobile and get a car.
We initially considered a long-term rental. Believe it or not this is actually a “thing” in France! Thanks to some convoluted French law (a common occurrence over here), both Renault & Peugeot offer specific programs that allow long-term car options to foreigners. These are actually not regular rentals, but short-term car leases with a guaranteed buy-back option (a similar deal exists for RV’s too by the way, but that’s the topic of another post). They are WAY cheaper than regular rentals, plus you get a new vehicle, unlimited miles AND full comprehensive insurance coverage included!
In order to be eligible you have to be a non-European citizen, or a European Union citizen whose residence is outside the E.U., and traveling in Europe for a minimum of 21 days or more. If we weren’t establishing residence for Paul in France this would absolutely be the way we’d go. So, if you’re an American planning to travel by car in Europe for a longer period, check this out!
- Peugeot’s Lease Program: http://www.peugeot-openeurope.com/
- Renault’s Lease Program: https://www.renault-eurodrive.com/en or http://www.renaultusa.com/
- Also these guys do leases: www.autoeurope.com
Since we are establishing French residence however (Paul won’t be subject to those pesky 90-day Schengen visa restrictions), we decided on a regular car purchase and it took a bit of doing to figure it all out.
First of all we needed a verified address which we’ve found is pretty much a requirement for ANYTHING you do in France. Thankfully my dad was able to offer one through an “attestation d’hébergement” which is basically a written statement that we live with him. Then we needed to figure out how to get the purchase money from USA to here. The research I’d done for my Europe banking blog was helpful for this. We used TransferWise and they were awesome. Lastly we needed to buy car insurance. For this, an attestation d’hébergement was (once again) needed, plus we needed proof of our last 13 years (!!) of insurance in the USA with any and all claims made. Thankfully we’ve been Geico insured since forever, so all I had to do was call them up and ask for the required document. Phew!
Surprisingly the only thing we didn’t need to buy a car in France was a French drivers license, as you can legally drive on your US license in France for up to a year*. Imagine that?
Oh and what did we buy in the end? A Peugeot 3008. It’s a “demonstration” model so we got it for a sweet deal and it is a SWEET ride!! 4-wheel drive, keyless entry, back-up camera, electronic dashboard, you-name-it. Overall it’s like a compact, snazzier version of our old Honda CR-V ,the major difference being that the Peugeot engine gets around 60 miles per gallon compared to our old run-rate of ~25 mpg (wow!), a major bonus in much-more-expensive-fuel France. We’re very happy indeed.
*Note/ Although we won’t need to get a French license until next year, it came in super handy that we had our International Drivers Permits (IDP’s), which we got for only $20 from AAA in the USA before we left. It means we won’t have to have our Florida Drivers Licenses officially translated into French.
The Great Stuff -> It’s a BOY!
There’s no doubt that the biggest, craziest, most awesomest happening of the past month is that my sister gave birth to a beautiful little baby boy!!!
It was a long and difficult labor, but my sister has Viking strength so she made it through like a trooper and the little boy came out healthy, happy and ready to take on the world.
My dad and I gave the new parents two weeks to settle in before we flew up to see them, but then we were ready for some serious baby time!
I cannot deny that it was an intense moment when I got to hold that little miracle in my arms, and despite having quite a bit of colic (I can confirm that he’s got healthy lungs!), he did really well the week we were there. I did a lot of cuddling, quite a bit of soothing and endless swaying. Plus I took a ton of artsy baby pics (only one of which I’ll share here….sorry, private stuff this). It was a fabulous week and we loved every minute of it!
My only problem now? Despite an absolute genetic lack of rhythm (trust me, you don’t want to see me dance), I seem to swing my hips unconsciously every time I stand still now. If someone videos me in France and I become an international meme, you’ll let me know right?
The Necessary Stuff -> GDPR Compliance
Have you heard about GDPR? Well if you’re a major company you’ve definitely heard about it and if you’re a fellow blogger you should have heard about it.
It’s a set of new data protection laws in the EU which came into effect May 25th and it’s the reason you’ve probably been getting inundated with privacy statement and cookie acceptance pop-ups everywhere you go on the web. It only applies to EU-based individuals (for now), so if you’re a US-based blogger you may not think it applies to you. But if there’s any chance that you have any readers or visitors to your blog from Europe, I’m here to tell you that it does. Plus I think it’s likely these laws will eventually trickle into the US and worldwide over the long term. Knowing what happens to your personal data online is important, and it only makes sense that websites clarify what they’re doing and how they’re protecting you when you visit them. In a nutshell, that’s what GDPR is all about.
The other thing you should know is that fines for non-compliance are HUGE. Administrative fines are up to 20 million Euros or 4 percent of annual global turnover, whichever is highest. You’ll get a few warnings before they hit you with $$$, but those are no small potatoes….
Good external links on GDPR:
- The Bloggers Guide to GDPR: https://support.pipdig.co/articles/gdpr-for-bloggers/
- 5 Actionable Steps to GDPR Compliance with Google Analytics: http://www.blastam.com/…/5-actionable-steps-gdpr…
And Now For The Bad News….
Thus we come to the bad part of our last few weeks and sadly, it happened almost exactly the way it did in 2016.
We were walking Polly off-leash in the garden. She started off towards us, let out a massive yelp and then wouldn’t put any weight on her right leg. NOOoooooo!
It was the classic signs of an ACL rupture and it happened almost exactly 2 years after the rupture on her left leg in Cape Disappointment, WA. We always knew this was a strong possibility (once one leg goes, a 2nd rupture is common), but we had just hoped beyond hope that Polly would be the exception to the rule. Sadly this does not seem to be the case…
We took her to the local vet and got confirmation of what we already suspected, with just a glimmer of difference from what happened in 2016. Her right ACL was not completely ruptured, but definitely torn. So we were now in the same nerve-wracking situation as last time, except for one thing. We’ve got a small chance that maybe, just maybe she’ll start to use the leg again on her own and maybe, just maybe it’ll stabilize itself over time.
So we’ve put her on strict rest for 2 weeks and we’ll see what happens. If she starts using the leg again we’re talking 4-6 months of rehab just to (hopefully) form enough scar tissue to stabilize the knee, with the caveat that the ACL could still rupture fully anytime down the line. If she doesn’t start using the leg again, our only option is another TPLO surgery followed by another 4-6 months of rehab. Not an easy decision, right?
Of course there’s the added stress that we knew THE GUY to do the surgery in the USA, but we don’t know anything over here. We’re starting our entire research process from scratch.
BUT THAT’S NOT ALL!
In some kind of twisted sense of symmetry the Universe decided that we really needed to re-live the worst parts of 2016 in its entirety.
When I took Rand to her vet health check in Jan I noticed she had a lost a bit of weight. This is not unusual in an older cat, but nonetheless it raised the hairs on my little spidey-cat-mom-senses. I started to watch her more closely and over the next 2 months I noticed small but significant changes -> a little more physical activity (acting a bit more like a kitten), increased appetite & eating, increased thirst, a little more meowing at night. All these were minor and could be many things in an older cat, but sadly they were pointing ominously towards something we already had ample experience with.
When I took her to her first check in France and saw that her weight had dropped again, I did what I hoped I would never have to do. I asked the vet to check her T4 levels. An agonizing 20 minutes later we got the result. She was hyperthyroid. Again NOOOooooo!
So almost exactly 2 years after Taggart was diagnosed, Rand got the same diagnosis. Ugh!
I guess the good news in all this is that we know exactly what to do. For Polly we know what the rehab involves (I’ve already started leg exercises on her this week) and for Rand we know what the treatment plan is (she started her Felimazole pills earlier this week and will get rechecked in 3 weeks to see how the T4 & kidneys are doing. If all is well, we’ll be seeking out I-131 treatment). Of course just like Polly’s (maybe) surgery we’re in the same dilemma for Rand’s treatment. We knew THE GUY for I-131 in the USA, but we didn’t know anyone on this side of the pond. This is the sucky side of an internationally nomadic life, and we’re getting that lesson early on.
Lots of uncertainty ahead, but I’ll let you know how it all goes. C’est la vie, right?