Tuesday, 30 June 2015

FI at least 28,82

The stock markets in Europe are dropping as stones and my monthly assessment of my financial situation is not improved by my new financial manager is not able to give access to all my funds.
Fuck you Avanza!

The good news is still that calculating my financial independence number (the low budget I live on divided by the amount of assets I have) still enables me to live this current life style for at least 28,82 years. There may be assets available for up to another annual budget, but I will not know that until the middle of next month as I can not see the value of all my funds right now.
Fuck you Avanza!

I am still very aware of how fortunate I am. I will think about it while sitting in my tent eating my food bought at a French market to which I have walked, hopefully while it has not rained too much.


Report - The June Challenge had two tasks.

- Clean, wax, impregnate, air and hang back into the wardrobes  
All cold weather or winter clothing has been repaired, cleaned, aired and hung in the wardrobe. 
I have four hats: one is blue and used to be my brothers from when he was little (at least 40 years old), one is black and used to be the man's, one is bought last year and has ear flaps and one is black, modern and a perfect fit and was bought this spring to replace all others (but didn't.)
I have seven gloves and mittens (I keep using one black pair and one green pair hoping to wear them out or loose them but it didn't happen this year either.)
I have a red winter scarf and a dark blue balaclava for skiing in very cold weather. 

- Air all bedding, blankets, mattresses, covers, etc. 
We have a double bed cover, a double mattress (five years ago it came from Ikea and unfortunately it will not last another five years) and three double duvet covers (one green, one orange and one blue). The four pillows have pillow cases that somewhat matches the duvet covers (they only match each other in pairs, not all four for reasons I will let the man explain...) We have three sheets and one has been mended in the corners. One or possibly two of them will need replacement within foreseeable future, but not now.
There is a set of single duvet covers too but the duvets and the single blankets are currently in another country so they are not much use here. One will have to meet up with the other in some place. 

How much bedding do you have?

In the processes I have also aired all six brown velvet curtains that I have carried with me from two apartments ago. Two have been hung in the office and if I get what I want, a curtain rail will be found for the bedroom and at least one of them will be hung there too. The remaining three will probably go back in storage (but it has been mentioned that the living room might look good with brown curtains). (The man does not agree.) (With any of these plans involving the brown curtains.) (The curtains in the office are really only hanging because the man is such a kind man.)

Monday, 29 June 2015


My army green Icebreaker merino wool hiking shirt was bought on sale in 2007 (at the latest).
The code on the label is almost washed out now but I made a note of it in my 2013 year calendar.

The wool came from the Glen Orkney Station and/or the Stonehenge Station in New Zealand.

I like knowing that, and I would like to have been certain the sheep had been treated well before the wool ended up in my shirt. Even better if I could have my own sheep, with wool to spin and knit for a replacement shirt.

As that is still years in the making, the only other thing I can do now it is to use the shirt as long as I possibly can to merit the efforts of the sheep.

The threads are breaking and the shirt is by now filled with little knots where I have mended the breaks. It is beginning to look like embroidered stars over my chest and shoulders. It is almost pretty.

I will not let that stop me from wearing it. The colour will never be good but then that was the reason why it was cheap affordable (it was not cheap) on sale.

Sunday, 28 June 2015


In early 2011 I attended a workshop-like hang-out with friends with the topic to imagine a better life than the one we were then living.
On the assignment if I had more time I would, I wrote the following:

Everyday is Saturday: coffee in pyjama, books, new, walk, friends, books, resting reading and  conversing. 
I travel and indulge my curiosity with food and coffee.
I hike more and have less hotel nights.
I enjoy my friends.
I sleep well.
I have go-to-hell money 
I live as a student on a low budget and have more time instead of money and no time.
Work is a means not an identity. I work with people, not under and not for.
I stay abroad.

This I named the Plan B impossible.

2015 this is more or less how I live, except that my week is Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, Saturday and Saturday.

Saturday, 27 June 2015


Så på grund av Avanza kommer jag inte kunna göra min månatliga kontroll av mina tillgångar för juni. Jag har nämligen inte kontroll över alla mina pengar idagsläget. Det kan dröja två veckor till innan jag ser dem på mitt nya fondkonto. Det ger en flyttid för fonder upp till 6 veckor.

Förklaring: Avanza har inte personal nog för att hatera flytten.

Vid flyttanmälan säger Avanza att det tar 1-3 veckor att flytta fonder. De skyller på oviljan att samarbeta hos de banker man flyttar ifrån.
I mitt fall har båda mina tidigare banker varit snabbare än Avanza.
Det tog 5 dagar innan Avanza ens skickade flyttanmālan vidare. Förklaringen var att den internt skulle undertecknas först. Det hade man uppenbarligen inte tid med.

En av de fonder som jag skrev flyttanmälan för, har Avanza tydligen inte i sitt utbud. Den ströks från flyttanmälan innan den skickades till tidigare bank. AVANZA MEDDELADE INTE MIG. Avanza meddelande aldrig mig om någonting. Jag fick beskedet från tidigare bank när jag själv började ställa frågor.

Hade jag direkt fått beskedet att de inte kunde hantera en av mina miljonfonder hade jag inte flyttat något alls till Avanza.
Nu får jag vänta till efter semestrarna innan jag fattar ett nytt beslut om var jag ska samla mina pengar. Poängen (och förtroendet) för Avanza finns inte längre. Deras idé om private banking är att de håller din banking privat från dig.

Friday, 26 June 2015


Vacation is coming up. We are going tramping around the French country side for a few weeks. We go with just rudimentary knowledge of French, limited if any wi-fi, tent and backpack. With a large dose of flexibility we go mostly to see just what happens and to enjoy the moment.

We walk, bus or train between camp sites (as the French do not like wild camping). We eat in fancy restaurants, heat a can of ravioli on the camping cooker or picnic on cheese from the market and pan complet from the boulangerie. We sit, talk, read and look at everything we find along the way. We look at things that may not be there anymore.

The plan is to go without much of a plan.

This year we go to Picardy and we have no return tickets booked. We can roam freely without thinking about where we end up. There is so much to see, even if we will limit ourselves to the time period of the 14th to the 16th century. The train and bus communications are good and there a many different ways to get back home. If it rains, we go somewhere else. If there are too many tourists, we walk into the woods.

So if you see a middle aged couple with backpacks in Picardy next month, do stop and give us a lift if it is raining, will you?

Wednesday, 24 June 2015


According to the film Search and Destroy from 1995, the Four Rules of Success are:
1. Strength needs no excuse.
2. The past is pointless.
3. Just because it happened to you doesn't make it interesting.
4. The things you apologise for are the things you want.

I made a note of this after I watched the movie in 2008, and I have remembered Rule number 3 ever since I started this blogg.
Rule number 4 bothers me, I cannot quite figure it out, I am sorry.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015


This is the story of my house.

In 2000 I was making so much money I wanted to buy a house. My landlord at the time kept increasing the rent and the neighbouring shop put up a fan that made me sleep with earplugs at night. It was time to move. It was time to start saving harder and to start looking. It was time to buy.

I started a buy-nothing-phase of my life, started saving hard, counting my money and started going around town to find an area that I liked and could afford.

My buy-ban lasted almost two years. I cycled everywhere, no taxi, no restaurants, I'd rather have people at my place than going out for dinner (I cook cheaper for four than the price for my meal only, and they would of course bring the wine. Win-win.) I bought nothing for the current home, with the reasoning that what-ever-it-was, may not fit the new house. I lived normally but I did not accumulate any items during those years.

2002 I left for Guatemala and I knew I could not buy before that. When I came back, I started looking into specifics and found the area where I wanted to live. In March 2003, I moved into the craziest, loveliest house anybody had ever seen in that town.

On a private website for people wanting to avoid real-estate agents, a woman advertised her house. She was - - odd. Before I even met her or saw the house, I knew I wanted the house. The location was fabulous, the price was well within my budget, and the things to fix were only bonuses.

She was selling the house because she was taking care of cats who didn't like the garden of the house. I will not elaborate on that. I just gave her my bid and cycled home.

A bidding war erupted between me and two couples. The price went up quickly in large chunks and within a week, I was at the top of my budget. Then I found out the other bidders gave their offers in another currency - worth about 20% more at the time. I was outsmarted, outbid and out of the game.

During these crazy weeks, I talked to the owner several times (remember; no agents). She was coo-coo but I am a nerd-lover and we got along fine. When the house was due to change hands, I rang her to hear how it all had gone and to congratulate her to all the money.
I then found out that she had pulled out of the deal with the highest bidder and the second bidder had bought something else.

She then offered me the house for the first asking price.

I accepted. 

I was standing on her doorstep within the hour with a contract.

It took four months for her to move out, and amicably I just watched the value of the house shoot through the roof in the meantime. After that, I never saw her again.

My mortgage was paid off in 2010. 
In 2014 I sold the house and made almost 4 times the buying price.

Monday, 22 June 2015


Slut = Finished.

När vi spelar Alfapet i timmar runt jultid, är det alltid den sista omgången jag gillar mest. Enligt våra hus-regler får man då även lägga ut förkortningar för det handlar mest om att lägga ut alla kvarvarande bokstäver. Det är spännand och klurigt att se till att alla verkligen får plats med alla sina bokstäver.

Jag har samma känsla nu. Jag håller på att slut på alla hygien-artiklar med ambitionen att när vi ger oss iväg till Frankrike, ska det inte finnas mycket kvar. Planen är att köpa allt nytt på en gång när vi väl är tillbaka (om det inte dyker upp något på vägen - men vi vandrar light så det är inte troligt).
Nu handlar det om att få allt att räcka en dryg vecka till men inte mer, utan att slösa för mycket.

2010 drog jag i handbromsen för hygienartiklar och införde köpstopp för alla produkter om de inte ersatte något som var slut, inte fanns hemma och måste användas. Det har tagit närmare fem år att göra slut på allt (och det inkluderar att ha gett närmare 50 hotell-tvålar till en organisation för hemlösa). Mitt tidigare arbetsliv innehöll många hotellvistelser, och ja, jag tog med mig alla hygienartiklar hem och har alltså inte köpt tvål sedan början på 00-talet.

I augusti kommer jag att behöva köpa allt: schampo (både billigt och kvalitetsschampoo att variera med), deoderant, tandkräm, tandborste, underlagskräm, ögonfransfärgningsfärg och hårspray. Allt, förutom hudkräm, solkräm och brun utan sol-kräm som det finns ganska mycket kvar av.

Visserligen har jag fortfarande kvar en tvål i hotell-storlek och en handgjord fransk lavendeltvål som jag fick 2009 i present efter ett tal på en konferens.
Det finns också några ansiktstvättcreame i provförpackning kvar att använda upp och därefter - om inget annat dyker upp - ska jag öppna den sista  Clinique tvålen. Det är den lilla storleken, den är inköpt troligen 2005 men är oöppnad och kommer att vara närmare ett år innan den tar stlut.


I sound my barbaric yawp over the rooftops of the world
A madman. A crazy madman.
A sweaty-toothed madman.
I close my eyes and this image floats beside me.
A sweaty-toothed madman
with a stare that pounds my brain.
His hands reach out and choke me
and all the time he is mumbling.
Mumbling "Truth. Truth, like a blanket that always leaves your feet cold.
You push it, stretch it, it'll never be enough.
You kick at it, beat it, it'll never cover any of us.
From the moment we enter crying
to the moment we leave dying
it will just cover your face
as you wail and cry and scream.

Don't you forget this.

Sunday, 21 June 2015


Peel carrots and cut length-wise so they have somewhat the same thickness.
(Brush potatoes if you need carbs too.)
Put one layer on the bottom of a pan. Add fish bouillon, ginger and/or garlic.
Pour hot water over the whole thing almost covering the carrots.
Bring to boil, make sure the the bouillon cube dissolves.
Put lid on and put the timer on ten minutes. The heat should be medium (not storm boiling).
(If you need carbs, boil potatoes - you know how to, right?)
When timer rings (put the timer on your neckline or at least bring it with you if you leave the kitchen) - put some pieces of frozen fish on top of the carrots. You do not need to thaw it. (This is why there should not be too much water as you do not want the fish into the water. The fish is to be steamed.)Salt and pepper if need be.
Put the lid back on, and the timer for another five minutes.
When timer goes of, carefully, with a spatula, turn the fish over (unless it is already completely white - then eat).

If the fish is not completely white all the way through, put lid back on, and timer on, for another few minutes.
When timer goes off, spatula up the fish and the carrots onto plates. (If on a diet to increase your weight, add a tea-spoon of butter to the leftover sauce.) Taste the sauce, taste again and add salt, pepper or something else you might like. You probably will not need to add salt.

Pour sauce over fish and carrots on plate..
If you need your carbs, add the potatoes and peal them on the plate, they should be ready now too. Mash the potatoes with the sauce on the plate (unless you eat with people you want to impress).

Save any left over sauce - it is too good to rinse down the drain.

Friday, 19 June 2015


Uppå väggen går en gädda på långa ludna svarta ben. Men ni skall inte vara rädda, ta en sup och allt går väl.
Vita möss, som går i taket råma hest och falla ned. Men ni skall inte vara rädda, ta en sup och allt går väl. 
Из-за острова на стрежень, На простор речной волны, Выплывают расписные, Острогрудые челны.
На переднем Стенька Разин, Обнявшись, сидит с княжной, Свадьбу новую справляет, Сам веселый и хмельной.
From beyond the wooded island To the river wide and free Proudly sailed the arrow-breasted Ships of Cossack yeomanry.
On the first is Stenka Razin With his princess by his side Drunken holds in marriage revels With his beauteous young bride.

Everything is a little different in various countries and languages.
Today my cultural background requires vodka and singing. The Russians are the only outsiders who understands (and they understand every night so they are invited).
Closer to summer solstice my cultural background requires huge fires. We'll keep many other cultures away from us when performing this pagan ritual, it is just too difficult to explain.
Sometimes I wish I had a more civilised background.
Sometimes it is just Ragnar Loðbrók (Lodbroek) and me watching the ravens.

Thursday, 18 June 2015


Vacuum: horror vacui, or better than nothing as the blond said?

We have two identical vacuum cleaners. When we merged two apartments a few years ago, we kept both. One is used, the other in "storage" waiting for the first to break.
The other day the thing that holds the hose (is it a hose on a vacuum cleaner? The schlang-part I mean?) anyway, it came loose. The other - I will not call it slang, although it is- was dug out an quickly assembled.
Not perfect!
It turns out the other thingy that is holding the whatschacall it is also half broken, but hangs on by the last tooth. It is clear that it will break soon too.
The trash-gods have delivered nothing. Actually it has given many different solutions but none has fitted these particular models.

On the market next to the office where I spend some insignificant time, a man appeared who sells replacement pieces. The following day, having brought the previous hosey-thingy for comparison, a new was bought. All is well again.

Vacation is over. Vacuuming is restored.
Tomorrow I will have to clean.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015


My strawberry is gone. I have had a broken vein on the top of my thigh since ... a long time ago. Now it is gone. After a day only slight bruises remains and they disappeared during the following week.

I have had microsclerotherapy on my lower legs. Vascular problems (a.k.a. broken veins or varicose veins) is hereditary. I have seen the problems of my mother, grandmother and aunt. I have know for more than thirty years that it would have to happen. The alternative is perpetual long trousers, thick stockings or an enormous self-esteem flaunting varicose veins and spiders webs.

It was done when I was in one of my favourite countries a few weeks ago. It took 20 minutes (45 including taking my trousers off and paying). Slight bleeding, a tiny drop from some of the needle marks. Polka-dotted with bruises afterwards (and tired) but less than 24 hours later they were fading too. I was looking normal by the following weekend and the improvements will continue during the next couple of months. Final results and possible need for another appointment will then show itself. Of course I will break more veins so as I get older I may need more procedures.

I have researched varicose veins operation methods for twenty years. From the operations, the crocheting needles, the pressure binding for six weeks and the now so hyped laser treatments. I consulted with a laser clinic and went away without trust for the person and the clinic. I have read testimonies and medical reports.

Five years ago, a friend recommended her physician and showed here legs. Initially a very glamorous woman, I felt completely uncomfortable with the clinic. I also did not have a language in common with the physician so eventually I threw the phone-number.

I went medical and chose a physician with an impeccable record, 20 years experience, and have made success in cases much worse than mine. It was performed in a medical clinic, close to other physicians just in case of. The tools consisted of the thinnest syringe needle I have ever seen. The pain was none. I felt the pinch and no, it is not pleasant. But it is not unpleasant, just a bit uncomfortable. The cost outside the national health system, was equivalent with my monthly food budget, a bit more than my monthly whoopee costs.

If you are really scared of pain or fear the procedure, I can not recommend it.
It is after all only a cosmetic procedure and there might always be risks. If you can not see the benefits for you personally, you should not even consider it. What I have done is cosmetic, self esteem, removal of an annoyance, liberation on restrains and opening up for shorts, skirts and flair.

I decided in the last moment that my strawberry mark was to go. I do not regret it, but it is gone. I will notice every time I pull my trousers down. Or I will not. Perhaps the strawberry is forgotten in a few weeks. I also have to change my physical description in my medical "in case of".

I have lost my berry.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015


I work in a very inspirational office. This is what I read everyday.

Learn from yesterday, Live for today, Hope for tomorrow.

Weet je wie je bent en ben je tevreden met je innerlijk?

Als we wachten tot het moment dat alles geregelt is, zullen we nooi beginnen.

Monday, 15 June 2015


Living on the cheap is only one part of the story. The other is making the money and the saving of money. The third part is the most difficult.
Investing for early retirement requires an entirely different set of skills.

However, it has to be done. The information must be gathered, understood and decisions must be made. Even if the decision ends up being that the saved money is kept on a savings account, this really ought to be a well thought trough investment decision.

I can not tell you enough how utterly boring I find the financial part of having a little bit of money. If somebody guaranteed me the nominal value and 4 % return for 30 years, I might let them have any other profit. (no, not really, but  - no really not, but almost...)

I have truly forced myself to understand the basics of shares, funds and different accounts and risks. I am probably a quite well informed and still very risk aversive fool when it comes to money. That is who I an, what I am and what got me here.

I have taken the decision to gather most of the money and make a proper investment plan. It needs to work better and more long-term and I have to stop loosing money on fees and courtage.
Now is time to lock down and secure, while keeping it movable and accessible.

How did Jane Austen's heroines invest their money to give them a comfortable annual income?
What would Jane do?


I used to be good at sewing in my youth and early twenties when I made a lot of my own clothes. Later on I took courses in both sewing and pattern making.
It is now twenty-five years later and almost ten years since I sewed anything more complicated than hemming trousers. The man is a good and enthusiastic sewer and has taught himself.

We have fallen in love with BBC TV-show The Great British Sewing Bee.

The man started a very ambitious project of pattern making and sewing a kilt. It will be finished soon, and it is nice, nice, nice.
Me, I have no patience for expenses - so when the trash gods gave me a huge old bed spread in thin Indian cotton, I decided it was good enough to practise on. Unfortunately still a bit smelly after it was washed twice.

Anyway, the following skills where updated, practised and developed:
Pattern matching and pattern making. Splicing fabric. Sewing machine handling and adjusting.
Bias binding. French seams. Top-stitching. Edging. Pleats and rushing.
Patterning, easing in and attaching sleeves.
Adjusting and attaching waistband. Button and button hole. Hemming edges.

This fabulous pyjama shirt and trousers set was the result:

It still smells a bit oddly so there is no risk that you will have to meet me in real life wearing it.
(and the pattern matches even better on the other sleeve I promise)

Sunday, 14 June 2015


5 points of Architecture:
1. Freestanding support pillars
2. Open floor plan, independent from the supports
3. Vertical facade that is free from the supports
4. Long horizontal sliding doors
5. Roof gardens.
Le Corbusier, Vers une architecture (1927)

9 points of Monumentality
1. Monuments are human landmarks which men have created as symbols for their ideals, for their aims, and for their actions.
2. Monuments are the expression of man's highest cultural needs.
3. Monuments are only possible in periods in which a unifying consciousness and unifying culture exists.
4. The last hundred years have witnessed the devaluation of monumentality.
5. This decline and misuse of monumentality is the principal reason why modern architects have deliberately disregarded the monument and revolted against it.
6. Post-war changes in the whole economic structure of nations may bring with them the organization of community life in the city which has been practically neglected up to date.
7. The people want the buildings that represent their social and community life to give more than functional fulfilment, They want their aspiration for monumentality, joy, pride, and excitement to be satisfied.
8. Sites for monuments must be planned.
9. Modern materials and new techniques are at hand: light metal structures; curved, laminated wooden arches: panels of different textures, colours, and sizes; light elements like ceilings which can be suspended from big trusses covering practically unlimited spans. Monumental architecture will be something more than strictly functional.
J. L. Sert, F. Léger, S. Giedion 9 points of Monumentality (1943)

Please read their full texts before forming an opinion.

Saturday, 13 June 2015


What do you own that you only can use for one thing?
Mine is sport and camping equipment. However, most of these things also have other uses so do use them for a multitude of things.
- Ski clothes – should be part of  your winter clothes so stay neutral and they can uses outside the resorts (this means solid colours for me).
- Thermos - increases the time coffee can be used. Saves electricity and coffee is not wasted by becoming cold.
- Gym shoes – neutral (that means black for me) shoes can be used every day. These are also my usual hiking shoes as I pack my back-pack light.

My sushi making paraphernalia is also only used for that. The Japanese chefs knives have been put to general use recently and they are a delight to work with. The nori rolling mat has so far no other uses nor any replacement.

The man of course has a kitchen cupboard filled specials. I do my best to clear it but I am relying on accidents (as it is not my stuff).

Friday, 12 June 2015


I read very little fiction and I read even fewer non-fact books that I have never read before.
I do not like stories generally and I especially detest internal monologue. Unless it is from real people. Mostly I read the stories I have read before.

"I'm always so ashamed when I discover how well-read other people are and how ignorant I am in comparison. If you saw the long list of famous books and authors I've never read you wouldn't believe it. My problem is that while other people are reading fifty books I'm reading one book fifty times. I only stop when at the bottom of the page 20, say, I realise I can recite 21 and 22 from memory. Then I put the book away for a few years."
                                                               Helene Henff, p. 199, The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street
She is the author of 84 Charing Cross Road.

The latest book of fiction that was added to my list of fifty books was PopCo by Scarlett Thomas. I read it at least six times after another during a year and keep referring to it in a number of occasions. 

Thursday, 11 June 2015


Naturen är en kraftkälla.
Enligt en rapport från Naturvårdsverket 2006 finns det ett antal anledningar till varför vi människor mår bra av att vara ute i naturen:
- Motoriken förbättras
- Koncentrationen skärps
- Blodtrycket sjunker.
- Halterna av stresshormon går ner
- Hjärnan får vaken vila
- Nervsystemet slappnar av

Anledningar till varför vi människor inte kommer ut i naturen anges som:
- Brist på tid
- För fysikt krävande
- Handikapp eller sjukdom
- Bor för långt från skogen.

Om det är för fysiskt krävande och man inte har tid att komma ut och röra på sig i frisk omgivning (= naturen), bör man då inte omedelbart överväga sina livsstilsval? Naturen kan man njuta av även om det inte är skogen. Om det bara är skogen som är naturen skulle större delen av Europa sakna natur!
Sjukdom och handikapp är definitivt en anledning till varför man inte kommer ut. Kanske detta är just den sortens hjälp man behöver om man är sjuk eller handikappad av olika slag. En stund med ett träd. En fot på en gräsmatta. Vinden genom håret. En obegränsad utsikt. Lukten av hav. Naturen är en kraftkälla.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015


For some reason that my 2015-self does not quite understand, my 2008-me found this interesting enough to make a book-mark out of.

Characteristics of a self-actualized person
1. Have a more efficient perception
2. Are not frightened by the unknown
3. Accept themselves and others
4. Enjoy themselves without shame
5. Lack defensiveness and pose
6. Express spontaneity - simplicity - naturalness
7. Are motivated by an urge to grow
8. Focus on problems outside themselves
9. Have the quality of detachment
10. Have a greater need for privacy
11. Are more independent of culture and environment
12. Have a continued freshness of appreciation
13. Have ha a mystic/ peak experience
14. Have deeper feelings of identification - sympathy - affection
15. Desire to help the human race
16. Have deeper, profound interpersonal relations
17. Are democratic
18. Can discriminate between means-end and good-evil
19. Are philosophical
20. Have a non-hostile sense of humour
21. Are creative
22. Are resistant to 'en-culturation' and transcends any particular culture.

- Abraham Marslow's study of "whole" people

It is all part of the process of having brought my me from then to now, from there to here.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015


I collect diplomas. I say I do not collect anything but I do collect education and consequenly, I collect diplomas.

I have a binder with everything since my first swim test.

About ten years ago I was helping a friend to clear out his mother's house and his childhood home. We came across all of his swimming certificates from his late teens and twenties. He looked at his beer belly and said that it was a long time ago and that he would never need them and that it was almost painful to look at them, remembering who he had once been. Elite swimmer and professional life guard. Then not so much remained.

Diplomas are souvenirs of who we once where and what we once accomplished. When I had collected my diploma for my masters degree, I was almost hit by a car walking home. No matter what had happened, no matter how bashed up my brain would have been, I had accomplished a masters degree and that I could identify myself with for the rest of my life. I remember feeling very calm as my life passed in front of me as the accident occurred. Now I will be given another piece of paper, worthless in itself but a target has been ticked off anyway.

My friend? Less than two years later, he was again working as a swimming instructor and life guard. That handful of papers got him the interview and his personality and personal strength got him the job. Beer belly still there but for the place and the clients it was completely appropriate. Hundreds and hundreds of children and adults felt safe with him and learned how to swim - just because he was who he was and has his experiences, and possibly also because of the belly.

Me? No, no my diplomas never gave me any satisfaction like that. But I like to have them and they are a part of my lifeline.
They are my life collection.

Monday, 8 June 2015


You have to have insurance. What kind of insurance is an entirely different question!

If you live outside of the UK or the Nordic countries, you also need health insurance. What kind of health insurance must be analyzed as it is different for each person (what you can get, what you can afford and what you are willing to risk.)

First of all, insure others against yourself.
This goes together with being an adult. Never ever put anybody else in financial risk due to your own actions. So you have traffic insurance on your car, housing insurance for damages caused on neighbors and you make sure you can pay for anything and everything you damage, accidentally or not. Especially if not accidentally.

To take care of yourself, you ensure you are insured. Either through an insurance company or enough savings to cover anything that comes your way. (and then you avoid all that comes your way like the plague, literally, avoid it like the plague. Wash your hands. Eat your greens. Lock your front door.)

This can be called being self-insured (or independent if you prefer that term). Do you have an emergency fund? If it is financial, how long does it last? If it is self-sustainability, it will have to be calculated quite differently.

Keep records of your insurances. Download information and send it to yourself in an email account that you can have access too from anywhere. Scan all essential health documents, medical information and test results and keep it (I do believe in having a no-cost email account with a simple memorable password just for these things.)

If you are strong (and not easily bored) look through them and make a spread sheet of what they cover. Do not over insure and know where you are covered and where you are not. Travel insurance, cars, theft, items, etc. Never have individual insurances for individual items. Get "cover-all-you-own and every-trip-you-take" insurance instead. Much cheaper and much more likely to actually be available the day you need it. Or not - insurance companies are not where I place my trust, so only follow your own advice on what to insure and where.
Do try to avoid having to claim.

Insurance is after all for unavoidable accidents - Do do your part of avoiding them first.

Sunday, 7 June 2015


I mostly rely on breakage to reduce the amount of stuff in the kitchen, but then nothing really gets added these days either.

I felt so bad that I hadn't paid more attention to my May challenge of cleaning, clearing and possibly making an inventory of kitchen equipment. 
                                      And then of course - voilà - the kitchen clears itself.

Look at the crack - not the burnt chicken fat in the bottom (we had chicken wings for dinner last night watching tensely the UEFA Cup Final -Viva Barçelona! - and warmed the leftovers for lunch today.) 
I will claim that it was not my fault, but I was cooking and I was stupid. 

The man's best soufflé form - ruined, destroyed, beyond repair. He would have torn his hair if he had had any while he wailed his unhappiness. Until I reminded him that we have no less than seven other forms of different shapes and forms that could go in the oven. 
- But they are not soufflé forms! 
- When did you last make soufflé? 
- It is not thaaaat long ago. Last year at least. (Read this and add soufflé!) 
- I promise that next time when you start looking for soufflé recipes, I will personally go to the second hand shop and buy you a new one. Ok?
That was ok.
And that is the story about how we reduce the amount of stuff in the kitchen.


From the gods of leftovers I was given an over sized black dress in heavy viscose.
I opened some seams and closed the side slits, mended some holes an voilá, a new summer dress. It will be brought on the hiking trip. It is long enough to appear in public in, if need be, and soft and cool enough to sleep in when hot. 

It will replace the brown silk dress that I have used the past years. That one is now mended in the back five times with black machine stitching and looks almost like a straight jacket. The silk is soft as a baby's buttok but fragile as spider's web. It will still be used as summer pyjama at home this summer. It was bought on the third price reduction in Brussels probably fall 2009.

After the summer - Can i cut it up into something else? 
I want to practise sewing in silk and this could be a good project. I think I can buy odd coloured silk thread cheaply on the market, but what to sew?
What is bigger than a hanky, smaller than a top, made of silk and is not for carrying or holding things? In the faded colour of potato brown?

Saturday, 6 June 2015


It is done. My scrap project is finished. The rest is only administration.

In 2010 I went back to university as a hobby. In evenings, sleep-lees nights, long airport waits, weekends and some working hours, I have studied distance learning at universities in my mother's country (where university education is free for everybody). It has been a structure and a self-esteem boost during some otherwise very difficult years.

Yesterday, I did my last exam. My final thesis was approved with merit two weeks ago. If I pass, and as soon as all grades have been reported, I will be another degree in the house - a Bachelor of Arts with a major in History and a minor in English. Not that it matters, nobody will ever hear about it.

But I did it.

Friday, 5 June 2015


8 Tipps für Plan B
1. Chronisch unzufrieden? Zögern Sie nicht zu lange. Sich durchwurschteln bis ultimo bringt nichts. Ihre Zukunft hat Priorität.
2. Sie brauchen ein Ziel! Machen Sie kein Praktikum, scheiben Sie keine Bewerbung, bevor Sie sich nicht festgelegt haben.
3. Erkennen Sie Ihre Stärken, fragen Sie sich, was Sie gut können, was Ihnen Spaß macht. Wofür würden Sie freiwillig früh aufstehen oder die Nacht durcharbeiten?
4. Suchen Sie sich externe Berater. Diskutieren Sie Ihr Vorhaben nicht mit allen Freunden und Verwandten: Der schlimmste Feind der Veränderung ist immer der, der in den eigenen Reihen steht.
5. Denken Sie in die Zukunft. Wie wid es Ihnen in zwei Jahren gehen, wenn Sie jetzt nicht änderen. Und dann stellen Sie sich vor, was wäre, wenn Sie sich jetzt bewegen.
6. Weg mit den Ja-Abers! Vorbehalte sollten nicht über Ihre Jobwahl entscheiden. Man verliet sich doch auch in einen Mann - und zwar trotz so mancher Ja-Abers.
7. Der schwierigste Schritt ist immer der erste. Wie beim Marathon: Die ersten zehn Kilometer, di man mit bleiernen Beinen lauft, muss man erst mal schaffen.
8. Es klemmt irgendwo? Vielleicht liegt's es am Ziel... Gehen Sie zurück zu Tipp 2.

Tipps von Uta Glaubnitz, Berufsberaterin und Autorin von "Der Job, der zu mir passt" (2003) - gelesen in 2008. 

Sometimes only the reversed image can show reality.

Thursday, 4 June 2015


I cut my hair again today. It has been quite long since last time, almost six months.
I cut my own hair, partly because I am cheap but also since I have always had better relationships with dentists and opticians than hair dressers. My hair is easy and they have a hard time allowing me to decide on the style.

For many years I did not cut my hair at all. After 11 years and when the braid started to look out from under my suit jacket, it was time to take it off. I cut it off myself with a pair of kitchen scissors about four years ago. Since then I have a simple coupe hair style, and I look like my mother (or myself at age eight). I can live with that. My mother is gorgeous at 80 and besides, looking like 8 is not bad for 47.

I counted all hair things I still have.
- One hair dryer bought in the US 1991, works perfectly (mostly because it is rarely used).
- One hair curler bought about four years ago to style the short hair (second hand buy at €2)
- Two hair elastics (time to start looking for more on the streets - they are everywhere here and they are fine after a simple rinse).
- Two different and simple pairs of hair clips, one used frequently, the other is for keeping banks out of eyes when dying eye lashes.
- Eleven - ehm - I call them bobby pins but nobody in Europe knows what I mean. Do the Americans still call them this? Is there a European English word for the simple bent thingumabob that children uses? [Hair grips - thanks, Rachel]
- One hair brush large and one hair brush small (for travelling) as well as a comb, primarily for hair cutting.

I am currently in the process of emptying and using up all hair products and they will possibly replaced. I am running low on shampoo but it will last another couple of weeks or so. I have half a can of aerosol hair spray, one small travel size hair conditioner, and one travel size hair stabiliser and colouring spray.
I will buy two different kinds of shampoo and a bottle of hair stabiliser and colouring spray when everything runs out. Total cost will be about €14 and it is planned for after the vacation camping trip (so approximately August).
That is the plan at least.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015


The June Challenge for me in Northern Europe is to focus on winter clothes and bedding. 
This is the time to hang it outside, shake it out, clean it (dry clean if you must but spot clean what is necessary) and pack it up nicely.

- Clean, wax, impregnate, air and hang back into the wardrobes all cold weather or winter clothing
Can your jackets survive another fall and winter? Or should you go look for winter clothes in the summer sales? Did you come home with all mittens, hats and socks last ski-trip or visit to the outside? Can you start the knitting project for some replacements? 
If you have room in your wardrobe to keep winter clothing hanging, at least move things around. Bring warmer season clothes to the front. If you pack your winter clothing away, make sure you match all socks and gloves. (And the day after winter clothes are packed away will be a cold day. That is just the way it is.)

- Air all bedding, blankets, mattresses, covers, etc. 
Take out all blankets, covers and extra pillows out of the back of the wardrobe, line up all bedding sheets and pillow sheets from drawers and cupboards. Count it. How much do you have in storage? Is there too much or nothing at all? Is there anything that is worn out and can be replaced?  Do you need anything? Does anybody you know need something? Should covers or slips be repaired or dyed or replaced? 
Air everything to make sure nobody else is sleeping in your bedding when you are not. Repack when completely dry and try to seal it if possible. 
I hear it is going to be warm this weekend. Good time to air everything outside. 

By the way: The weight was this morning +6,3 kg. The target is to get down to +2 kg, ultimately down to 0, but there is not a lot of hope for that. 
Body spring cleaning has begun.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015


Aaaaa - the kitchen is clean, that is probably all I can say in terms of reporting on the May challenge this year.
No, wait - the chaos cabinet is cleared and cleaned (as in, everything was taken out and everything was considered important enough to keep. lalalalala  I don't care... )

I did clear the food cabinets and emptied and cleaned the almost empty containers. I also came home with four old tins of food I found on the street. I discreetly put them in the food cabinet and told the man I had found the tins and that they were quite old (at least two years past expiration date). He did not bat an eye lid, just made sure there were no bumps in them and said "Good, then we don't need to shop for food this week". Saved about €4 but a huge potential future saving as he so calmly accepted my first dive for food.  

The knifes that were considered on the way out, are out of the house. (Once you start with good knifes, the bad knifes just do not get used any more.) We still have both espresso cups and champagne glasses. (No champagne though, the wedding weekend needed a lot of champagne.)

We have five plates that we use everyday (three identical, two not so much, but they are all white) as well as four huge flat and four huge deep plates. These just hold too much food and distorts the size of our portions. They are only used when the food is really, really good or a salad goes on the side of the same plate. There are also three deep noodle bowls (there may have been four bowls at one time but not any more) and six porridge, soup and ice-cream deep plates.
These six bowls were bought this spring in an outlet restaurant equipment shop after a long time of searching. They replaced three different kinds of chipped plates (which presently serve as flower-pot plates on the balcony). Best buy ever, we really held out to find exactly what we wanted. Light, white, perfect size, can stand in the wash stand and are very durable. Nothing else was going to be acceptable and we would rather live with the chipped ones. Preferably cheap but the price was of less importance than the colour, style and sustainability. (Did I mention we paid €1,50 each?)

I do feel I have not paid attention to the challenge this month. I really should have done more in May to clear and sort the kitchen. But I didn't. I am a bad person. Shame on me.
At least I didn't bring anything new into the kitchen either.

Monday, 1 June 2015


There has been a nice little recovery in the financial markets where my money is invested right now. Although I have paid most, if not all, my tax debt in advance, the Financial Independence number is steadily climbing back up towards 30 again.

30 is my personal target for Financial Independence. It means that with a limited, but normal annual budget, my financial assets would last me thirty years. I have worked hard, very hard, for this money. I am very happy and grateful but I do not feel bad about having it.

The annual budget I use as a calculation tool is of course higher than my normal monthly spending. All annual costs are spread out over the year and there is room for some things unexpected. It is also a budget that very many people have to live within and do it well, also without a large comforting chunk of money as a safety net. 

However, I am not taking anything out of the Financial Independence Bank at the moment. I have not stopped working, as I am involved in a project that gives me personal satisfaction, but I have cut a day from the working week. I will be contributing to my FI for another year or so. After that I may work only so much that I make my annual costs. I have a plan for 2016-2017...

The water is cold but look, there is very green grass over there on the other side of the fence...