Saturday, 1 September 2018

FI39,86


I don't know what happened but the financial markets where my assets are invested went sky high the last weeks and only dropped a little before the monthly "counting of my money". As I work the last months of my notice period, without a new job in sight and with less than high ambitions for a new job - it is a relief.

The financial independence number (FI) is currently 39,86. This means that the total assets in my name divided with my current annual budget, could last me over 39 years. I have roughly estimated another thirty five years to live and seventeen years until pension rights starts paying out with citizenship in one of the worlds socially secure countries - I think I will be all right even if it is scar. And even if I chose not to live in the country of my citizenship but in a safe but social security market oriented country.

My pension funds are not included in my FI-number because I have no control over most of them. They will pay out if and when they pay out. I have also not included the value of my apartment (although the neighbour apartment sold this summer for 1/3 more than I paid for mine). I have also not included a forthcoming inheritance as the value and the circumstances are still uncertain. It could be up to another five years annual budgets though (but not without some difficult work... Dang, if you are going to die, just get your own affairs in order, will you please!)

It is a relief to have this money available, but let us all be reminded of one thing:
Most of you do not live within my annual budget. Most of you are not motivated enough to live within my annual budget.

This FI-number is the result of some serious lifestyle choices and cost avoidances. It is the result of eight years serious savings and probably a lifetime of careful spending and budgeting before that. There are none or few "indulgences" in my life. Almost no take-out food, restaurant visits or luxuries involved. My life always involves planning each action and activity, always looking for a cheaper deal, always making the effort to save money and never paying to save time. My annual budget is below national average and touching the "poverty" income level for most European countries.
Don't be envious. You have a lot of things I do not have so be grateful for your own assets instead and value what you have.


Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Explosion

I had a new job. Bang! Just like that!
Explosion! Then I did not.

The recruiting agent for 'the good manager with the strange job' called me in for an interview in another country with one day's notice. On the day after the interview, I had a verbal offer. Salary accepted. I mentioned conditions (because the job is a bit strange and none were discussed) including asking for a visit to the office I was actually to work (not where I interviewed - or where the manager works). If the conditions would not alter the salary agreement, I would have a new job. A good manager and an even better corporate leader. Inspiring. Enthusiastic.
Starting soon. My notice for the old job was very timely.

Then started a very inept process with inert discussions and delayed communications about actual contract conditions and the arrangements for an office visit. I was basically doing the work of the recruiting agent and the contracting agency, and almost starting to do job assignments.

Eventually, a visit was set up in the new office. Just for a visit a few minutes to indulge the new employee, very friendly and welcoming on the day.
Except waking in, I was shocked. I was met with the most suicidal atmosphere possible. Hollow-eyed snearing people without hope or enthusiasm. And a physical space to match.
Grey, dead with people in booths and a coffee machine.
I have seen very many bad offices and work environments in my line of work. This was a burn-out machine. To work in that place was not an option. Physically or mentally.

My happiness turned into despair in a minute.

The office person saw my reaction. HR was called in. The day after the job offer was revoked.

It is really very sad. I wanted to do that job and to work in that team
That office would not be the place to do it. The company was not suitable for me - or humanity.
The manhandled recruitment process. The reaction to anything but complete obedience.
The revoking of the offer without discussions or alternatives or adaptations. (Although, to be fair, HR called to tell me directly. Not to listen, but to tell.)

I had a few days afterwards where I walked around first angry, then chocked and then sad.
I would have been so good for that team, I could walk into that job and be challenged for at least the first years and then have options to develop the tasks. It would have been so good.
But it was not to be. It took days to get over the drama. I may never fully recover. It is still sad.

The decision to revoke application and offer was ENTIRELY mutual.
I did not get to take the decision but in the end it does not matter.
With FIFTY years of life experience and with FI, financial independence, that was not to be for me.

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Thresholds

Life includes thresholds and so does most homes.

They are practical to keep doors from dragging on the floor and keeping the outside out. They are impractical to stub toes against and to restrict access for people with physical limitations.

I have seven, not including the raised one into the shower room (the one I broke my foot against) and the thresholds of the front door and the balcony door.

Seven thresholds covered in black and grey laminate - except that I took ten minutes off my life and a rag with regular cleaning liquid and washed them.
Fifteen years of only having been mopped when the floors been mopped and they turned grey in the corners. After a scrub, they are now all black and only black.
We might be the only ones in the world who never cleaned thresholds with any particular attention.

Either way, I am not going back to just mopping the thresholds. Yes, there is yet another thing to clean - but a very rewarding result from ten minutes and some arm strength.

I am still leaving my job. Rubicon has been crossed.
I might project manage every little thing in our lives from now on. 

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Jeans for a fiver

I have bought jeans for a fiver. That is €5 per pair of perfect beige jeans in my size.

As the man has the same size in jeans as I, together we bought four pairs of identical jeans.
We were on a walk when we dropped into the neighbourhood outlet/left-over/damaged goods shop.

I have rarely bought anything there but it is an excellent shop to visit when retail therapy is needed. Allowed to buy anything I want, as long as I really want it, spending an hour looking through everything usually cures any retail needs and rarely cost much or even anything (I rarely really really want anything from there but that is mostly not the point when the shopping bug hits. The wanting I mean.)

This time we walked onto a pallet of odd coloured and odd sized jeans, including our odd size. The man wanted yellow, green, red, blue jeans but our size were only available in beige which I preferred anyway. The shop provides no opportunity to try things on, but I pulled one pair over my shorts and declared them perfectly sized. We bought two pairs, went home, tried them on, looked for any faulty sewing or fabric damage and then promptly went back to buy all the other available pairs in our size.

All fitted even better after being washed. Only one seam had a loose thread needing a few stitches.
A three minute job.

I put one pair in my storage while I start using one pair normally. (This way in three years, I will have one good pair and one used pair instead of two worn pairs.) The man will probably dye one of his pairs when cheap fabric dye comes up. I struck the task of finding right sized trousers off my wish list and the man took the urgent need to find summer clothes off his.

We are very happy with four pairs of jeans for €20. An unexpected cost but a much needed wardrobe addition for whatever the future contains.

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Vertigo

I have vertigo (mentally) and I have to remind myself that I have solid ground around me.

My financial independence number is over thirty, meaning I have assets worth over thirty years of my current annual budget. I have pension rights that will pay out at least something in fifteen years. I have a small apartment that is also worth something and cost very little. It could be generating a few more years worth of financial independence while reducing the annual budget.

Normally I only count my financial independence number at the beginning of the month.
Now, I count it again.

I have just given notice to my current job and will leave after a vacation. The vacation started immediately. I actually just walked out (or logged off as I work remotely on-line.)

It was dramatic yesterday but after having complained about the decreasing quality of  the product the company delivers as well as the quality of support the employees receives, an invite to a meeting to go through the entire system to look for things that could be improved, pushed me over the limit. Every report I have made over the past years when noticing something wrong, has been clubbed down, hard. Anybody else reporting the same thing is thanked for bringing attention to the issue - I get a lecture on why it has to be as it is until it can be fixed in half a year.

So I've had it.
They can replace me.
I've got money to safeguard me.

I have been to two interviews for two different new positions in the last weeks but nothing has come of it, and while one manager was great, that job is a bit strange. The good job has a strange manager.

Deep breath, it will sort itself out.
I have thirty years to make more money.

Now I will enjoy my vacation.

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Cat

I have not adopted a cat.
I will not adopt a cat. The man will not adopt a cat. We have been without cat for five years now and although we miss the last grumpy fat cat terribly, it is nice to go away for the weekend without a cat sitter.

We said we would not adopt a cat. I said we would wait until we got adopted.

We have not been adopted but oh my - it was so close.

Kitty was what I called the scared cat who occasionally came to the back area of our apartment building. She had a collar that mostly looks like a flea collar. Kitty used to be very shy and never wanted to cuddle.

A few weeks ago, Kitty became sociable to me. Very sociable.
Kitty came when called and always very sweet. She started to lie under our balcony on the downstairs neighbours outdoor space every day and talk to us when we were outside.
It was very hard not to scoop her up and take her in.
Except that it is not my cat.
But she had what looked like a bad eye infection. Should I scoop her up and take her to a vet? After several weeks of agony and googling all lost cat registries in town to see if somebody was looking for her, I put a piece of tape on her collar asking if there was an owner. Do I have a home?

Within two days there were two identification tags on her. With two different phone numbers.
And the downstairs neighbour had started feeding her and was willing to take her to the vet AND to adopt her permanently.
Everybody in the area was ready to be the owner of Kitty.

Kitty had cuddled her way into at least two homes, and was well on her way into the third. The owner who spent the most money on the cat identification tag, lives around the corner and has three other cats. The damaged eye happened when Kitty was a kitten and is not an eye infection.

I am now safely down to fourth in line to be adopted by Kitty.

She still comes when I call but I think she knows I am on to her tarty tricks. I also do not feed her so I am only her fourth best friend. We still cuddle well together though and she licks her lady parts while I stretch outside after running.

It is nice to have a cat of ones own who comes when being called for but goes to hair on the sofa of somebody else.

Sunday, 12 August 2018

Culottes


I am not sans-culottes any more.
I have culottes! I am not to be blamed for the so called French Revolution any longer.

I finished sewing my green cotton culottes that I started during the World Cup this summer.

They turned out really good. The pockets, the covered fly, the raised waste band, the folds - everything came out perfect and very very neatly sewn. No mistakes at all (left after unpicking...)

The man commented it with: "Wow, it really looks ... as it should." High praise indeed.

Only one sliiiiiiight problem. They don't fit ME very well.
Comfortable, but too big even though I worked hard to fit them to myself.
Fitting on oneself by oneself is very difficult and probably should not be attempted. I will ask the man for more help in the future.
Unfortunately, this model does not have belt loops and they cannot be added afterwards so onto the hip they slide.

They shrunk quite a bit when I washed them but are still slightly too big.
The shrinking also made it obvious that they were not shaped to follow my body. I also think I may sew down all the folds for a sleeker look. Any ideas to make them fit better are much welcome.

Still, ridiculously comfortable and perfect for city-visits. Secure to sit down in anywhere (without showing my underwear). Dressy enough to go anywhere.
Happy colour for summer.

Better result than expected as they were primarily a project to train sewing with the ambition to sew more of my own clothes.
My skills, unused for close to twenty years, is being awoken and re-sharpened.

The fabric (thick soft cotton twill) was bought on the market for €1/metre, the cotton thread €0,50 for 500 metre (used in max €2,20 for fabric and thread.
The zipper had been rescued from an old bag before I threw it out so cost me nothing. I had to purchase a bit of fabric stiffener for the waste line for €1/metre but I only used max €0,20 worth for this project

In total the coulottes cost me around €2,4 and are wearable.

(Especially if I gain back a couple of kilos, they will fit perfectly!)

Saturday, 11 August 2018

Cto5K

I have graduated.

I have run for thirty minutes or little over five kilometres three times in one week.

Small small steps turned into a running routine and a succeess.

I want to thank all people providing running inspiration over the years. You have no idea you were inspiring at the time and I probably made fun of you then. During the last months, I have thought of you often and the memory of you and your words have truly been helpful. I am so glad you ever even casually told me you went for a run in the morning before breakfast, that you ran every week, that you ran just a little when you felt sad or just ran, ran, ran, ran, ran or wanted to run (you all know who you are) as it has served as inspiration for me.

I have graduated the Couch to 5 kilometres program that NHS has for free on the website to download for free for everybody around the world.
It is a nine week program to take people who do not run through a series of ... events... to enable the confidence and stamina to run in ones own pace for thirty minutes or five kilometres.

Nine weeks is a fictional number, it is more of a nine seasons program.
It says that there are three ... events ... per week with a resting day in between.
That is idealised and not suitable for grumpy untrained over 50s like me. More resting days are good, especially in the beginning. Just keep it up and keep going back to it. Each run, even each attempt to run, is different and even a bad attempt is better than the running done on the couch.

It has taken me from the end of April until the beginning of August to finish this nine week program. I started the first time in December and there has been injuries, low self-esteem, bad temper, insults, muscle pain and exhaustion. There has been misery, and drama and super supportive strangers and hopelessness and cats to help.
The time it has taken me to reach the target does not matter one bit. Only my persistence matters.
Aaaactually, not even my persistence: but rather my ability to return again and again to do again things I say I will not ever do again.

Most importantly there has been Laura.
Laura is the name of the running coach for the NHS Couch to 5 K. 
And what Laura says, you do. Laura says you can do it. So you do it.
(If you can't run, just focus all the things you can do.)

I did what Laura said.
And kept doing it.
And nobody is more surprised than me - I ran for 30 minutes or over 5 K, three times in a week.

I am a C25K graduate.

I will continue doing this for three months with no increase in ambitions or targets.

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Hygiene products 2018 - in progress

I have been working hard on an additional target for almost two moths:
Use up all hygiene products. 

That includes all hotel shampoos and soaps collected over the last years. The products bought and not liked very much. The products bought in mistake. The samples given and accepted. Anything in the category of hygiene in general, including bug spray and hair spray.

The aim was to buy fresh new products in August when the sales start and then only buy exactly what was needed, the right sort, brand and price.

The man and I also aim to share as many hygiene products as possible. Currently, this means we use the same brand and the cost is shared through our bucket system. That includes shampoo, conditioner, soap, deodorant, toothpaste, mouth wash (not Listerin), lens fluids, skin lotion and sun cream.

It has taken some adaptation over the last months (years) to get to this point. I have joined his perfume free skin cream and he has joined my cheap high spf sun cream which turned out to be better quality than his high street stuff. We have also been through several different brands of tooth paste in the lower price ranges until we found a brand we both could stand the taste and texture, kicking out the more expensive products. We will however probably never share deodorant. although soap is  still difficult, it isn't unimaginative that we could find something we both can accept.

We will however probably never share deodorant and as I am the only one with hair in the house, I have to agree with myself when it comes to shampoo and conditioner. I will not need to buy conditioner for another few years because I am blond and can't read.

After focused use during the last two months or so, I can see the end of hotel shampoo, test packages of skin cream and eye creams that do nothing. By the end of the summer, I will hopefully also see the end of the fake skin tan lotions that are at least eight years old. By the end of the year, I hope to finish the last of the eye creams.
And I didn't think I had that much.
The man is going trough his stock of products that he has bought but can't use and I have been given all sorts of foul smelling perfumed skin creams. 
And soon the new travel season starts and the accumulation of shampoo and soap starts again.

This  ambition is not to buy anything new until every last bit is used up.
It is difficult.
Especially since August is already here, the sales have started and I still don't neeeeeeed anything yet!
There is also amazing amounts of space generated in the bathroom and I don't want to fill it.

Sunday, 5 August 2018

August 2018 - Electronics

The target for August is Electronics
"Find all things in your house that needs electricity to operate (easily recognised as it has a cable or needs batteries).
Clean your hard drive. Do a back-up of all the content to usb, disc's or cloud storage. Download all photos from your phone. Print special photos. At least send the most important documents in an email to yourself."

The targets starts with the gathering or at least the identifying phase. Where do you have equipment that is electronic or needs electricity to operate? The things you use every day is probably easy to think of. Just as the things that stand on your TV-console-computer-office centre.
Just clean/dust those off.

The hard ones are the things that you don't use.
The old stuff. The cables. The chargers.  The batteries.
The toys. The exercise equipment. The electronic birthday card. The electronic stuff.
In which drawer are they leaking or draining out?
Where can they start a fire or destroy the things next to it?

Gather, inventory, mark, hold, enjoy or get rid of.
You know the drill by now.

I am adding to this list the task to collect all my university papers, memos and my thesis(-s) in one electronic folder to burn on a CD. I will never need it, read it or use it, but I spent way to much intellectual hard work on those words to just leave them to rot on a computer that is not being updated. 

I am also going to see if I can inspire the man to take another good look on our electronic libraries of books, music and pictures as well as his numerous servers and old hard drives he sticks in every corner of the apartment because they contain his work data. No pressure, it is his choice to do or not to do, but maybe he'll be inspired by what I do? 
Some gentle sub-conscious inspiring or role-modelling for later can be more efficient than outright nagging. If not, nagging it will be.


Wednesday, 1 August 2018

FI38,45

Today the stock markets and the value of my assets are up.

It has been a long time since I managed to calculate the value of all my assets on a day when the markets were up. Dividing with my traditional low but current annual budget gives me my FI-number: my financial independence number.

The FI-number of 38,45 means that I can live on the current value of my assets (except the value of my studio apartment as I always will have to live somewhere) for 38,45 years. I am 50 and my family has an average survival rate around 85 years of age (my biological father just died right on the expected life time). I think I will be OK even if I do not work again as long as the price index is covered by dividend and interests (which it might not, nobody knows the future; not with Mr orange in da' house'.)

Anyway, I am financially fine - today.
I count my assets on the first of every month and it is nice to see the assets increasing with every year.
I still work and still save (oh yes I save hard still) so most of the increase in the FI-number can be new savings but it really does not matter much where the increased value is coming from at this moment. The day I'm fed up with the new management (read we do no know what you do but we will tell you how to do it), I can politely close my computer, leave it on the desk and walk out.

(Work computer has never been connected to any private information and can be left behind at a moments notice. Everybody knows this and my closest manager screens me from most of the nonsense, thankfully.)

I will probably always work, I like what I do, but now at least I do not have to make money out of it.

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Bags - July 2018

It is a weird month. Hell didn't freeze over, the opposite. The good place turned the heat up and burned. The wait was over and now there is nothing left to hope for. All is well though.

I'm fine and I am keeping control over the controllables.

Collecting all bags in one place at the same time enabled me to concretely see how many bags and purses and wallets and shopping bags and travel bags and sports bags I currently own.
It is a lot. I have a lot and my needs are filled - almost.

I have 15 bags and purses of which 3 are large travelling duffel bags.
There are also three computer cases/covers which I store in the same place although only technically bags. 
I also have seven wallets ranging from the first one I got when I was five to the silk one from China that used to hold British pounds and now doesn't so it is now back to being a wallet instead of being used as storage. This also doesn't include the wallet I use everyday.
I have 7 shopping bags and three blue Ikea bags (Fun fact: Yellow Ikea bags outside of the shop are always stolen.)
I also have 2 pairs of bicycle bags (and still need to get another more suitable pair to fit the new bicycle) and my hiking back pack.  

Beyond the new set of bicycle bags needed (or are they just wanted?), I do not need any new bags.
I do not even need any more bags if they are given for free or provided by the trash gods. There are even three or seven of all the bags that I could live without.
In the inventory I did place a few bags in the bag for the charity shop but I think the rest can just stay there for pleasure and temporary use - even if I strictly do not neeeeeeeed them.

I have them, I do not need any more but I keep what I have that fills me with pleasure. 
So, in all: 38 bags.
(And an old waste paper basket filled with plastic bags we try to reuse until they actually are destroyed and can be placed in the plastic recycling).

Last year I had 34 bags. Not all bags in that list still lives with me. I am however sure I did not count the same way then as I did now. It doesn't really matter. What matters is that I gathered all of them, looked through them all, counted my surplus and appreciated what I have without creating fake needs for something someone wants to sell me.
I do not need bags.

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Patterns 2018

I did it.

I closed my heart, clicked on my rutheless brain and sorted through my sewing patterns.

I went through all patterns in 2013 when I cleared out of and sold my house. I only kept patterns from my mother or grandmother for clothes that I liked and patterns that I myself has bought that I could imagine wearing again. All eighties jackets and nineties trouser patterns went out ruthlessly.

Now I had another go at what ever what left.
All copied patterns from pattern magazines that are now in the wrong size - paper collection.
All pattern magazines that doesn't contain anything I could imagine wearing again, much less sewing - to the second hand shop.
All original patterns that I could not imagine wearing again or that is for clothes worn at very specific events in my past that I do not care to remember - or want to be reminded of - out the same way.

I was left with five pattern magazines and eight original patterns.

It was a relief.

It was such a relief I immediately started sewing again.
And immediately went out to buy another pattern that I wanted - but really really didn't need.
But I am sewing them too. (I will show the finished results.)

The World Cup takes a month and Tour de France has also started and although I am not a fan of tennis - Wimbledon is also on.
Thank heavens the weather is nice and it is too warm to sit inside and watch telly every day.

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

July 2018 - Bags

The task for July is bags.

  Find all bags in the house, include suitcases, rug sacks, reusable shopping bags and all handbags. 
  Don’t forget your exclusive new year’s clutch and your grand mothers handbag. 
  Clean each one of them. Open all compartments, empty the content and brush the lining of each
  pocket. How many bags do you have? Note the number.

This is a very important task for me. I am overflowing with bags. Last year I had 34 bags. I know there are more and not less bags in the house this year. I have been given bags as presents, by the trash gods and found in free donation piles. I have unused bags, new bags, old bags, found bags, replaced bags. There are no broken bags that easily can be thrown out. 

Not only are there too many bags in the total. I also have too many bags that do only one thing or is used only for specific activities. One for weekends, one for week-trips, one to transport oatmeal between countries, one for going to work with a computer, one for going to work without a computer, several for doing large grocery shopping, one for doing small grocery shopping, shoe bags, sports bags, shoulder bags, hand bags, clutches. 
I really want to aim to have few bags that cover a multitude of functions.

At the same time I also need new bags, other bags. 
I need different bicycle bags. The old bags does not fit the new bicycle and can not be altered. I bought cheap temporary bags and they are too small for trips longer than two nights (also not water proof which bicycle bags must be). 

I also constantly carry a complete survival kit with me (shopping bag, medication, passport, knife, keys to my second apartment etc. other essentials). Currently I have no bag that can come with me at all times and I keep shuffling things from one to another. Sometimes I do not know where things are.

What I do know, is that I do not know if I already have a bag that can be the every day bag for every function. 
That is why I will collect and go through all available bags first - before I even start thinking about looking for anything new. 
Except bicycle bags. 
That I would like to have bought before next bicycling weekend -
which will not be this weekend as Sweden is playing England on Saturday in the quarter-final of the World Cup. Last eight and the dad team is in it with its solid 4-4-2 system. Unbelievable!
I am still in chock.

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Winter - June 2018 - not

The task for June was to go through all winter clothes and bedding.

Yes, no, so, I didn't do that.
Bite me.

I will, I promise myself that I will. But with the football world cup, sewing, the new bicycle, fantastic weather, three day weekends every week, four days work and running two days a week, there was just no energy left over for projects like that.
Diving into the deep wardrobe when it is 27 degrees C outside is exactly what I had planned to do -
but no, didn't. Didn't want to.

Some of it I did do. I did take out some of the winter and rain coats and cleaned the inside of the pockets with a brush to get any crumbs out. I felt very proud of myself.

I also did make a list of clothes that need to be impregnated and/or waxed before the rainy season starts again. That list includes shoes that need to be sprayed with water proofing.

Plans are wonderful. Life is better.

Remind me to complete this task again later.


Monday, 2 July 2018

FI37,03

BE COOL, HUNNY-BUNNY, BE COOL.

It is time to show restraint and focus on the long term goals.
The markets are in full summer fluctuation, my investments are dropping in value with every move that shakes the financial markets (solid investments, there is no such thing) and my monthly savings doesn't seem to make a difference. It feels as if there is a black hole I put my poor savings into.

I need to be cool. Tell me to be cool. Cool, hunny-bunny, just be cool. It's going to be all right, hunny-bunny. We are all going to get out of here alive, hunny-bunny.
But yeah, I need to pee too.

Enough with the film references (Tim Roth and Amanda Plummer and if you don't know which film it is, your life is excellent without that knowledge.)
I calculate the total value of my assets on the first of each month. Adding up everything I own and have access to (so excluding value of any pension assets that I don't have access to yet). I also exclude the value of my small apartment as I always will have to live somewhere.
Then I deduct any debt I have, currently it is only taxes but still. It must be deducted.

The remaining assets are divided with my current annual budget, the one I live within since years.

Currently, the financial independence number stands at 37,03 year. It means that with my assets, I could live within the current budget for thirty-seven years as long as the interests, dividends or value increases covers the price increases.

Currently the assets are not growing as they should and the budget is tight with the price increases for food and energy.
Continuing to invest into what I believe to be future companies on future markets at times like this takes cool. So I will try to stay cool.
Cool, hunny-bunny, cool!



Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Knife part 2

The new knife has entered my life.
After ten minutes, it was as if it had never been gone.

My last pocket knife was confiscated by customs leaving England earlier this year. It was fair and they treated me very kindly. (It is also about the seventh pocket knife I have lost to customs since 2001).

For my birthday, I was treated with a present from my work. I picked a pocket knife (and with some kind negotiation, a substantial gift card for the out door shop of my choice.)

I picked the same pocket knife I bought some time in the mid-1980's and had in my pocket every day until 2001. Swiss Army knife (now Victorinox) with the combination of tools that I personally need.
It fits perfectly into the pocket of my Levi's 501's.

Nothing much else has changed since the 1980's.
Except the waist measurement.
And the belt. That one is from 1991.
Now since the weight reduction, the original strap is again back on.

Add a football jersey for my national team and I am ready to rock as if it was 1994.
(Where did my 1994 World Cup shirt go?)

Monday, 25 June 2018

Brake iron


Oh yes, I did.
I broke the iron.

Watching football while sewing and ironing, I dropped the iron on the floor.
No problem, the floor can handle it. I didn't think much of it.

Next time I tried to iron however - water everywhere.
Standing up, no problem. Using, holding it flat, water pours out from the inside.

I will need a new iron, but not right now.
I think can survive ironing without steam for a good while (I don't iron much these days).
I don't know how the man will feel about that, but he is generally less fussy than I am. He has years and years of experience to iron without steam as he was using a spray bottle or a wet cloth when I met him and introduced him to a steam iron. I don't even know if he uses steam these days (he does his own ironing whenever the occasion a smooth shirt is required).
I am technically a better ironer than he is but he really likes it a lot more. Especially ironing handkerchiefs can put him into an almost trance like meditative mood.
Something with the handiwork and the pride of the finished product, I think.

Sorry for publishing this post half written yesterday.

Colander part 2

There is a new colander in the house.
The colander with the broken handle has been removed from use as a colander.
I see from the date of the above link, that we have lived with a broken handle for year.

The new one is plastic, maybe it is more of a strainer. It doesn't matter. It does the same job.
It also has no handle that can be broken off so it will last us a long time.
The new one is also without cost. Which is important.

Not because we can't afford a new colander. We could buy a new car for cash tomorrow.
Not because we thought we didn't deserve a new colander or any of that sort of self-depreciating thinking. We are not defined by the things we own.
The broken colander worked, almost without annoyance.
We almost bought a new one but since it was not entirely perfect, we refrained.
And serendipity gave us a perfect colander for free.
This is a colander design that is currently not for sale on the markets where we live. 

By not spending money on a new colander, we saved very little.
But we also kept ourselves out of the consumption mode for the last year.

We also did not buy a car, speed boat, or train. We didn't buy take-out coffee or food. We bought no toys or collection items. We didn't use money to satisfy our cravings or to dull pain.

We never buy anything on the spur of the moment. We never go out to buy something without that something being identified, analysed and researched. We often go out to buy a specific item and come home empty handed when that item is not satisfactory or when it is unavailable.

We spend money on activities that create healthy bodies and memories for life.
We spend money to save us from bad situations.
We spend money to replace expensive essentials when they break in our lives.

The rest we repair or try to live without until it becomes necessary or free.

Saturday, 23 June 2018

Midsummer

Midsummer, summer solstice, the pagan party weekend of fertility and vodka.
It has passed.

I went to IKEA, stocked up on sill (picked herring) and Kalles kaviar. I bought knäckebröd, butter, small fresh potatoes and fresh dill. The flags and the decorative may-pole came out. The vodka went into the freezer, the beer into the fridge. The man baked a cake for dessert. I baked a cheese-asparagus pie just to be fancy.

Everybody ate as if they had never seen food. All children loved fishing for their own piece of herring out of the pot (nono, of course not, I served it at the table straight out of the pots). The food gourmet parents loved the potatoes with a piece of butter on top and some salt. Dill. A simple salad. Small pieces of desert cake with a strawberry on top with a stick.
We all enjoyed ourselves and I made everybody sing for their vodka.

If you don't sing for your vodka, you don't deserve it.
If you can't sing for your vodka, you've had enough.
If you flavour or mix your vodka, you can go home. Not drinking is fine but there is no need to be wasteful or disrespectful.

Now the longest night is here, and we are all a part of nature.

Thursday, 21 June 2018

New bicycle

The new bicycle has been delivered.

After two weeks of heart break, I have accepted it and started using it.
It is still a painful experience. 

The company makes a very unusual bike, exactly what I needed and how I wanted my first new bicycle in forty years. I could get it in pink with immediate delivery or wait three months for the same bike in black. I was willing to wait three months to live a life without a pink bicycle.

The bike was delivered on date.

The wrong bike.
The new updated version changed it into a different bike.
Different design. Different weight and most importantly; a completely different break system.
Several of the things that was on the "must be" list.

The company answers my bike shop who placed the order: "we change and upgrade without giving notice" and "we will have no further contact with the customer, and refer to customer service". The customer service answers without investigation that "you must have ordered the wrong bicycle".
They will not deliver the bike with the brakes I want, or in the version I ordered.

I could have refuse the bike.
I should have refuse the bike.
I need a bike.
I want a bike now and there are no alternatives on the market.

I had to swallow my pride, my respect, my everything I have ever learnt about honesty, trust and quality in how to make deals, contracts and agreements and take the fffing bike.
I am not happy. The company won, and I will be riding around on a bicycle forever reminding me how they royally screwed me.

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

WC with culottes

World Cup!

Football!
All day, every day for weeks and weeks.
I am so happy!

If you do not know football, it is the international sport played with feet and a ball.
Everything else must be called Australian, American, Welsh or any other regional form of ball -
or feet.
This is international football.
The World Cup is only played every four years with teams who have survived an almost two year qualifying process. They come from every continent (except Antarctica, they did not qualify). The traditional European and South American dominance is broken and Asia and Africa are now represented with equally strong teams on the field.

I have a lot to do.
I follow three Scandi-countries, three previous home countries and four favourites just because I love the way they play.
There are countries I would love to have had included (Norway and Finland - hyvää gutta!), some countries that think they ought to have been there and several who dreamed about being there but wasn't prepared to do the work to get there during the extensive qualifying round.
We all know who I'm talking about.

I have watched two to four games per day every day since last week.
There is more to come and I am rationing, trying not to watch everything.
But I follow everything, and read everything.
I have a complete schedule on the wall that I keep updated.

I have started sewing again just to avoid to sit and eat in front of the telly for days at the end.
In my underwear (or even worse: sans-culottes).
I am making an advanced style of culottes in green cotton twill that can possibly be called skorts or jupe-culottes (similar to Burda 6905). They have so many tricky steps that I can do a little thing after another with plenty of thinking and ironing in between.

The old house-rule never to watch commercials on the TV is actively pursued.
Whoever is caught, or catches one self, watching the commercials, is to do ten (or as many as possible) push-ups on the floor.

And of course, I still go running.

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Replace your running shoes!

I have learned a hard lesson and I have some urgent information.

If you have injuries, inflammation, aches or pains when walking, or attempting to jog or run -
immediately replace your shoes.

It does not matter if they are almost unused.

Get new shoes. Get cheap ones to start with if you want, but get new shoes.
New cheap shoes are better than old expensive shoes.

I have tried to start running the last two years. Every time I try, something happens.
Inflammations. Pains, Walking problems. Limping from knee pain or foot pain. Pelvic inflammations.
Anything you could imagine.

All, all, every single one of the problems I have had, all if it has been due to my running shoes.

They were perfectly good shoes. Brand name shoes. Almost unused. Even clean.
But ten years old.

I mistakenly went for a short run in my hiking boots.
It was wonderful.
Ridiculous but wonderful.

I went running in my regular old walking shoes. Wonderful.
I went running in my new walking shoes. Flying like the wind.

I have now followed the NHS Coach to 5k running program for almost two months and I have ended week five this week. It means I have advanced into running (a.k.a. slowly jobbing) from thirty seconds to five minutes at the time and now have been motivated mentally so that I could do a slow but steady twenty minute run.
Meaning, I can not only run for the bus, I can run to the next bus stop.

With this progress, I will start the process of finding a serious pair of running shoes this month. It will require some serious money and some serious investigations.
I think the man has made me into a runner.
How did that happen?

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Vacuum

The wheels are busted and the handle is draggin'

It is a line from a song, a chant I learned while working for the American girl scouts, starting "You can't ride my little red wagon, 'cause the wheels are busted and the handle is draggin'..."

It is also currently the description of our vacuum cleaner - as the language of the song would call it, or the hoover that I never have been able to start calling it, being a brand name and all...
Or the Abhorrence as it is called in Josephine Tey's book Miss Pym disposes (1946).
As they climbed the stairs Henrietta paused to point to a piece of mechanism on, a low trolley, which filled the well of the staircase. "That", she said, "is the most famous College character of all. that is our vacuum cleaner; known from here to New Zealand as the Abhorrence." 
"Why abhorrent?" Lucy asked. 
"It used to be Nature's abhorrence, but it became shortened to The Abhorrence. You remember the tag one is taught at school: Nature abhors a vacuum." She looked a moment longer at the monstrous object, caressing it with her eyes. "It cost us a deplorable sum, The Abhorrence but it was money well spent.

Aaaanyway, the wheels have come off our vacuum cleaner!
It is not rolling any more. It is dragged on its belly over the floors. The axel is broken and the wheel heads are bust so there are no repairs possible. It doesn't seem to be hurting neither the floors, thresholds or the vacuum cleaner so I have decided to keep using it. At least until the current bag is filled and needs replacement.
I am 1st vacuum cleaner in this house (since I am the only one with hair) so I make these decisions.

Also, there is an spare identical vacuum in storage. Even though the man already had a vacuum in perfectly good condition, I brought mine when I moved in. Too good to throw out, to bad to get any money for when selling. The spare went in under a book case and has lived there ever since.
When the now wheel-less vacuum cleaner gives up entirely, the spare will be dug out.

I hope it starts. At least it has wheels.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

June 2018 - Winter

The task for the month of June is to go through winter clothes and bedding.
"Clean, wax, impregnate, air and hang back into the wardrobes all cold weather or winter clothing. Air all bedding, blankets, mattresses, covers, etc."
I am hoping it will be an easy task, considering the bedroom has had a thorough clean through this spring and that the bed was in the living room for a week. 
Considering we also went through the walk in closet during the winter, where the other bedding is being stored, I want to think that there will not be much work for this task.
How much more airing could the bedding need?
Probably more than I ever give it, but possibly not as much as this task would have required a few years ago. 

These tasks used to be very hard work, but with every work-through, it becomes easier and easier.
This year, I have even had all my camping gear out which also doubles as guest bedding in our house.

Winter clothes, coats, gloves, hats and scarves and such, on the other hand, that must come out in the air and the sunshine. 
Since that could be done in an hour or at least during a day, should I possibly add another task for June?

 

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Kitchen - May 2018

Check - the May task is done.
the kitchen cabinets are all wiped out and gone through. It really is a task that becomes easier and easier with every year, even though I still dread it every year.

The bag with unused, unloved, useless kitchen paraphernalia is packed by the door to be taken to the second hand shop. It is not very large. We only have four kitchen cabinets to begin with, and a food cupboard with a rack of shelves for food and books.

We got rid of a single Martini glass (if I drink Martini, I think I can use a normal French wine glass).

We got rid of a single pink champagne glass (I wish not to explain why I own this but I think it involves a walk home through town a late new year's eve (late morning new year's day). There will never never ever be a need for it. We have other champagne glasses (two of them, almost similar) for the moment there is ever champagne in the house that cannot be drunk out of normal French wine glass.)

We got rid of a ravioli maker (I did this, there will be no ravioli made in this house ever as there has been non made the last fifteen years. I highly doubt there ever even will be pasta made in this house since last the time when we had tortellini hanging on the laundry drying rack for two days. The pasta machine itself was however saved from the cull by the man claiming he was going to use it for some printing project. I highly doubt that too, but I gave it six months as long as the machine was put on display as a constant reminder. It now sits on top of the kitchen cabinet with lots of space inside.)

I also decided that a box of chamomile tea we were given by somebody who didn't like it, was going to be thrown out as that brand was truly disgusting and we will never drink it either.  A lot of food stuff bought or given as experiments were also creatively eaten during the month. (Including a bag of out of date Japanese tempura breading flour that with an egg and a little butter, made five or six wonderful ginger flavoured sponge cakes.)

The row of cook books has not been gone through yet; I think it is the only thing left to do. When it will be done, nobody knows. The books in the kitchen are not mine so I am not able to dictate which stays and which goes, or even to go through them and make suggestions. It will happen. Just not this month.

The man did however clear and clean the chaos cabinet. My sushi paraphernalia got its own box and the rest was re-stacked. I doubt anything was culled, but that is not my problem. I have nothing to do with this cabinet beyond throwing things back in after washing them.

I did however keep all my measuring sets, but I did go through the box of extra and double kitchen stuff so that I now know what is in there. 

In the bag destined for the second hand shop also went a small stack of books, films, and clothes that I sincerely hope I will never fit into again.

Into the garbage bag went thousand bag zip ties that somebody thinks would come in handy one day. Worn out plastic boxes and extra lids went into our plastics recycling.
I also would have thrown out any cracked china but could not find anything this time around.
Possibly because I get better at cracking china and now break things thoroughly first time around.

Monday, 4 June 2018

From 38,52 to 37,47

Somebody let a failed business man run the international trade on industrial goods.
Somebody without a macro perspective and with a micro perspective that fits in a pocket.
If not his own, at least an individual person's pocket.

From 25 May to 4 June my financial independence number (asset values divided with my annual budget) fell from 38,52 years to 37,47 years.
Over a weekend.

I can only hope that the asset values of somebody else were increased in equal measure.
(I doubt it.)

Still, I am very happy with the result of the choices I have made previously in my life.
All the not-spending, education, hard work and repayment of debts with the accumulation of savings little by little by interest rates and investments and safe funds.
I am now eight years into some more serious frugality, working less and less, having taken pay-cuts with each change of jobs and focusing more and more on life with less attention to the career.

However, looking at the stock markets is worrying. I try to stay off the ticker as much as possible.
It is easy to do after a long bicycle ride, sitting in a tent stirring hot water to powdered mashed potatoes with a can of beans open next to it.
Waiting for the next thunderstorm, hail and rain to come crushing down again.
Enjoying the permittivity.
Living the life.

Truly enjoying it.

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Tsp

Working through the May assignment to work through the kitchen,
I suddenly realised that for a household that only uses the 100ml/about a cup/ to measure porridge oats every morning or smaller measuring spoons for sushi or cake baking (both occasional events with its own tool sets) we have a lot of measuring spoons.
Beyond the porridge spoon, no other of them are actually in the kitchen!

I dug through and found these sets of measuring spoons.

(Missing is the porridge cup and the tsp from the transparent set, the last one currently operating as a scooping spoon in the sugar pot.)

The sushi spoons are white and red and live with the sushi tools. They live the feng shui tools.       ... because...

The left-over transparent set lives with the even more occasionally used kitchen tools such as corn on the cob holders shaped as corn on the cob cobs and orange peeler's (both tasks are performed by our hands in our simplified kitchen).

The metal, the red and the white set live in the "doubles kitchen box" with kitchen things on top of a book case in the office. It contains kitchen things either never used such as my lovely tea pot and vase made from a champagne bottle, things we had two/three/four off when I moved in and we just stored for later, gifts as well as nice decorative items but not on display right now, such as my African guards, elephant (cow horn) napkin holders and cast iron tea light holders. It is all wrapped up for protection in my aunt's 1960's dresses. ...because...

As known, I am not a minimalist, I am a frugalist and I will not throw out things I like or that there is no current use for, just to buy new stuff again later.

Five measuring sets are however too much. The white set had the TSP and the tsp spoons measured and marked as 15 ml and 5 ml respectively and added to the kitchen drawer for more regular use. (They had to be marked with actual measurements as we cook from French, Dutch, Scandinavian, German, UK and US recipes and actual content is essential.)

The metal set went back in the "doubles kitchen box", I really like those in style. The sushi set went back with the feng shui stuff or I will never find them again.

The larger spoon of the transparent set (half a decilitre, 50 ml) went into the camping box as the existing measuring spoon in the cooker is cracked and will need replacement soon).

The rest went into the - I should say - the "on the way out" box, shouldn't I? I really should have.
The spoons are all 5 ml and smaller, all tsp or less. I do not ever cook with margins that small - or portions that small.
Unfortunately, I put them back in the "doubles kitchen box" until next time. The rest of the occasionally used kitchen tools went in there too, freeing up space and gathering similar with similar.

The good thing is that I know know what is in that box.
How many sets of measuring spoons did you find going through the kitchen in May?

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Bicycle shorts

Oh, yeah, so schexchy!
I walk around with extra padding on my bum.

I have bought bicycle shorts (greatly reduced price and paid for in part with a gift card - of course).
All in preparation for the new bicycle and the planned and prepared long bicycle trips we plan to do this year.
They are black and tight and padded in the sensitive saddle touching areas.
They are a very comfortable already on my comfortable saddle on the iron horse city bicycle.
On the new touring bicycle, they will save my bacon. 

I bought bicycle shorts without a waistband, they are basically dungarees.

They are not sexy. Not one bit.

They are however much more comfortable to wear during heavy bicycling.

They are also easier to hide under regular clothes. Yes, I am still prudent enough to not walk around in skin tight clothing among strangers. Nor have I any intention to let anybody ever see me looking like this:

They hide all bacon rolls, muffin tops and extra tires around the waist efficiently.

They are also limiting bathroom visits to only the most essential and urgent needs.

Nobody cares, cycling season is here and the bicycle roads around here are filled with people who dream about Tour d'France and Giro di Italia - and have nightmares about Tour de Ardennes. I am joining them, I don't know what has happened to me. I have turned into a cyclist.
                                                                                                                                        Photos happily copied off the internet.

Monday, 7 May 2018

Sunglasses 2018

Summer is here - in the beginning of May.

Sunshine is here and I need sunglasses.

The pleasure of wearing is motivating me to pay for lenses although regular glasses would be so much cheaper. I wore glasses from the age of 15 until around 2009, and I do not miss them.
Sunglasses have their disadvantages but for me, they are a pleasure I will not do without.

I made an inventory of all sunglasses in the house this week. I even got the man to dig through his boxes. He has given up on lenses as his eyesight is too bad and is now living in hats during the sunny season. (As he should anyway, wearing glasses or not, as he needs to protect his hair less head.)
I was gifted his remaining pair of sunglasses.

That left me with five pairs of sunglasses.
Blue were an emergency buy from last years bicycle trip are perfect in all ways except that they are blue.

Narrow brown came out of a skip in Paris last year and are not great. Too narrow for me, to lightly tinted and does not really fulfil the task of a pair of sunglasses. I look really cool in them so they are staying.

Brown and gold equally came out of a skip in Paris last summer. Completely scratch free. The size and shape is perfect but the colour is not. I thought they were fakes but a quick internet search revealed they are in fact original Ray Bans and sold last year for over €100,  second hand they sell for €20-40.  I might like them better now.

Black plastic are fine, good, in all ways, and cheap. They touch my cheek though and although comfortable in all other ways, I do not hesitate to stick them uncovered in my backpack. It they break, there will be no loss.

The black with metal frames at the bottom are the hand-me-down from the man. They are currently my favourites and I wore them all weekend when cycling around in the sun all day through the green landscape along the blue sea. Close to 40 km per day on the old bike, training for the new bike.
How many sunglasses do you have - and wear?

Friday, 4 May 2018

Reading 17-18

While struggling with health issues at the end of 2017, I turned, as always, to books.

I only read fiction as an escape (and then the same stories over and over again).

When I want to stay in reality and develop tools to handle reality, I read factual books.
 It is not always works of science or even especially well founded theories - but the texts will be about something, explaining something that at least the author believes to be real.

I started reading all books available in my physical and electronic library on the following topics:
Self-help
Project management
Improvisational theatre

This lead into
Cognitive behavioural therapy
Cognitive biological science
Evolutionary biology, geography and geology
Meditation and yoga

Continuing into
Neuroscience
Feng shui
Behavioural psychology

Developing into
Biological evolution
Zen
History of science
Moral philosophy

and now I read
Cognitive theory
Yoga
Philosophy and sociology of religion
Theatre theory and practice

and the waiting stack of books contains
History of ideas
Post-colonial history
Memory studies
Map making

Books I've read through and didn't like - or din't read through although I thought I ought to - went into the "on the way out box". Those books do not go back onto the shelves.
I am keeping a list of all books aquired in 2018 to see if I possibly will reduce the total amount of books in the house (doubtful, but at least I aim to track my addiction).

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Bicycle 2018

Before Project Closet started, and before the chaos of Project Bedroom descended upon us,  I mentioned I was looking for a new bicycle.

One of the main motivations for Project Wardrobe was to use up the floor boards stored in the basement in order to give us more space to store a fourth bicycle. (One city iron horse for each of us, with each having a touring bike for long rides.)

The reason I need want a new bicycle is that my city-bike is a heavy steel-horse. Last summer it proved to work but not really be very suitable for week long bicycle vacation trips.

We want to do much more cycling and far away cycling with our camping gear. Last years two long bicycle trips really made me want more.
Maybe I am turning from a hiker to a biker? Or maybe it is just the Netherlands being so flat and boring to hike in that bicycling mentally becomes the only possible alternative? I still hike though, but if I go for a few weeks, it would be nice to have a change in the horizon (and to stay within the country).

We especially want to go to the mountains. The mountains are far away from here. A steel-horse built to survive inner-city Amsterdam is not built for the mountains. It is also not built to cycle far on.

So I set out a list of criteria for the potential new bike (as I do for every purchase of any significant amount of money or that is to last a long time - or both).
Light: maximum 15 kg
Rear luggage rack
Large frame (for my long legs)
Ladies frame (because I'm a laaaaaaaady)
Lots of gears
Touring styled
Touring handles
Mud guards, covering both wheels and chain
Dynamo charging for lights
Brakes I can adjust myself
Generally repairable on the road by self
Not too colourful
Under €1000

After days and weeks of looking at different bicycles on-line in half a dozen countries, it turned out that weight, frame size and colour were going to be the decisive conditions.

After much thinking and agonising (months of thinking, endless hours of thinking and at least three test rides on a similar bicycle), I finally ordered that one single bicycle on the market that fulfilled the size and weight criteria within budget and in a discrete colour. (Black is discrete right?)
Well within 60% of the budget actually and I was very pleased with that.
It is being built to specifications (of which I can only decide on the frame size).
The delivery time is anyway almost three months (an annoying sing of a cartel market.)

There is still over a month to go before the bike is to be delivered.

I keep looking at the picture of my new beauty - wishing and dreaming.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

May 2018 - Kitchen

The target for May 2018 is to go through the kitchen.

      "Clean every cupboard in your kitchen. That means empty every shelf in every cupboard. Only 
      put back into the cupboard what you have used during the year, that works, is clean (cleaned) and 
      of good quality. Put all questionable items, nicked porcelain, more than twenty plastic containers 
       to store food in and anything else you don’t understand in your “on the way out” box."
We have an "on the way out" box already in the kitchen and there are still a few items that doesn't seem to get any action. Not even every year. The useless ice-cream machine was however useless for the last time for new years dinner and is now disposed off without regrets. It took a few years of questioning its performance, but eventually - finally - we kicked it out in January.

We host a large family party every three years and this year it is time again. Unfortunately, it does not take place in May. (Maybe I should move this target for next year to the family weekend?) Anyway, that event will make use of every glass, cup and plate we own and could possibly with my usual dexterity, even break some of it at the end of the day. I know that no drinking glasses, cups, mugs,  plates, or serving trays will be kicked out this year either.

The ambition is however to clean through the kitchen cupboards and all items. While doing it, I will keep attention on each item,  trying to find anything that isn't useful or doesn't feel nice or useful. Hopefully, sometime in the month, the man will feel ambitious and dig through his chaos cabinet.
I also should count the number of glasses so that we know how much single-use glasses and plates we need later this summer and can buy it at the upcoming sales.

This is a monthly task that becomes easier and easier with every year (as long as the breakage equals the acquiring). 

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

FI37,35

IT IS FANTASTIC! I can scarce believe it.
I look at the numbers, add them up again and again. I only hoped for this day but it has happened.
My savings have broken a major number and my financial independence number is currently 37,35.

It is the division of my annual budget to the total amount of assets to my name (excluding the value of my tiny studio apartment as I will always have to live somewhere as well as pension rights that I currently cannot access and has an unknown value the day I can). It reads that my current assets could support my current lifestyle for over 37 years with the hope that dividends and interests makes up for price increases and inflation (of which nothing can be know of course).

To be completely honest with myself, the actual FI-number is currently higher but unusual for me, I currently have debts. I owe taxes that must be paid later in the year and I owe the remainder on the new bicycle I have ordered but not yet paid in full. These are debts that I cannot deny and therefore must deduct from my total assets. I have had no other debt since 2010 when I paid off student loans as well as the remainder of my then mortgage.

I am still a little shell shocked. It is an enormous amount of money. 
It is much more than the amount of money I dreamed about in 2010 when I started my ERE-trip. (Use the ERE-labels to read all posts summarising the different steps.)

It is much more money than I possibly need since I still work (although only four days a week).
It is the result of not spending money more than earning a lot of money (or will earn in the future according to the new owner of the company I currently work for).
It is the result of a lot of hard work, a lot of personal decisions, a lot of doing things with a different attitude to money than most.
It is the collected results of a lot of small decisions made every day, every hour.

I will now aim to hold and grow with very little risk and less tax effects for the future.

Again, I never thought I would reach this point and I am very grateful to the 2010 version of myself starting on this frugalist road to less spending and savings using the ERE thinking

Monday, 30 April 2018

Camping equipment - April 2018


Through the month of April, I have walked through the house several times, looking for camping paraphernalia and gathering everything outdoor-related in one place. When we went to England for a week only outdoor equipment was used,  but not the actual camping gear. I did use the 25 litre back-pack, some of the cooking items (collapsible cup and spoon), some of the tiny hygiene items (travelling soap, hair brush and shampoo) as well as drinking system, hiking boots, and all sorts of light weight hiking clothes.

I came home with my boots covered in mud flats mud after crossing a low tide area. One day I will clean them thoroughly.
Not this day though.

I also dug through all camping equipment and I see that there are a few things that I have not used - ever. I got rid of a drinking bottle that is perfect, except that it doesn't work properly, and a container to hold 5 litres of water, except that the cap doesn't attach properly as well as a few pack bags constructed oddly and impossible to use.

At the same time, I read through all my out-door cooking recipes collected through the years. It became quite obvious that my cooking ambitions have seriously slid into the dumps with modern light weight food bags. I used to dry vegetables in advance to use for stews and even bake bread on long hikes. I made a promise to myself to be more prepared and more ambitious in the future.

The camping planned or prepared for this summer are all going to be bicycle trips so there will be room and weight available for more interesting out-door cooking. I have a pair of bicycle bags that I hope will fit the new bicycle too (if not, they will be made to fit because I am not NOT buying new bicycle bags this year). I need to find a new knife first.

Beyond that, there is really nothing we need for camping, hiking or cycling in this season. The tent will be going on for another decade or so, even if it is already a good twenty years at least. My sleeping mattress from last year, my twenty year old warm sleeping bag and my twenty-five year old light sleeping bad as well as my ten year old hiking back-pack will continue to do service. The trusty twenty year old Primus Trangia gas-cooker system stays - until we find a lightweight substitute that will fit with the man's nice modern cooking pots. Hiking boots from the archaeology trip to Ireland 2016 and other clothing is all in good order and needs no substitutes or completing. Coming back from England, we spent our last British pounds buying light-weight camping food that we carried home to use this summer. (Not because that we needed it nor that it was especially cheap, but honestly, the few pounds left over were either spent or donated and I never found a charity box the last day and the shop was open.)

We are now prepared for when weather or vacation suddenly appears.
In just a few hours we can be packed up for a week on the bicycles or on the footpaths.
That is what we have the camping equipment for.

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Teeth 2018

Teeth is the one body part I will do my very best to keep until I conk out. My most priced possession.
Next to my eyes, the most practical thing with my body and the one thing I would miss the most if I lost them. Or the use of them.
I am willing to invest both savings and time into the care of my teeth.

I brush two to three times every day. Every single day.
Carefully, professionally trained brush strokes.
Floss, mouth wash (NOT listerine) and tooth pick regularly (and carefully).

There is nothing fancy about my teeth but they are mine.
One is a little crocked but still, also that is all mine. No teeth regulated in my life.
(I inherited genetics from people who didn't get to procreate without naturally good teeth.)

This week I went to see my dentist. I have not been called to a dentist in many years.
The system gives you a dental hygienist as a first visit until they either refer you onwards or it has been so long since you saw one. The system does not even call me more often than every 18 months now. This year however, it was my turn with the (a) dentist. I have never met the same one twice in the same clinic where I have been a patient for close to twenty years.

First: Hua, the price difference!
Second: Stern warnings and instructions!
Thirdly: Spit!
Fourthly: Pay up and see you in 18 months.

It does really pay off to brush, floss and rinse with mouth wash regularly.
Especially if you don't like going to the dentist.
My visit was ten minutes and that is because I answered when she asked me things.

I probably could have saved some money by just grunting.

As a wise man have said: It is good to be fond of ones teeth.

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Knife2018

I have a new item on my need list. The list of things I really must have and that needs to be replaced or acquired within reasonable time.

The same item has been on my wish list for a long time.
I am so very excited because...
as well as liking trains, trains, cars, auto mobiles and heavy machinery...
I also like knifes.

I have two very good friends, of which I am related to only one, who are passionate knife collectors.
I restrain myself and only have the knifes I need. The past few years that has been singular numbers of knifes. Very few women past fifty need several knifes.
Want, oh yes, yes, yes, indeed.
Need, no, not so many.

Now I need one. Customs for the Eurostar train confiscated my knife.
It was apparently an illegal weapon.
It had a clasp that held the blade open; that was not allowed onto the train.
That the blade was curved and slightly too long probably did not help.
I tried to look very very sad.
(I wanted to quote Crocodile Dundee: "You call that a knife. THIS is a knife." But I looked sad.
The customs man was a sweetheart and very kind and proper. He also looked sad that he had to take it from me. We both looked sad together.)

(But seriously, it was frikkin' awesome! Carded when buying alcohol and having a knife confiscated within days of turning fifty! How wonderful is that! I was chuffed to bits!
While still trying to look sad.)
(I probably ruined the whole sad looking thing by turning to the man behind me in the queue saying: "Well, you bought it for me", and in the next second stretching my arms in the air saying: "I get to buy a new knife!")
(Yeah! But not lady like much, no.)

The man bought me that knife because I think he borrowed my previous knife when camping and lost it, or broke it or something (I have the shortest memory for these things). Anyway, I know I didn't like the old one either very much, but it was the only one I had left from my collection that was severely diminished after 2001, when customs started to insist no knifes where allowed on airplanes any longer. I had until then lived my entire life with a knife in a pocket or a bag as a true MacGyver, and it took some time to get used to it. Bang-bang-bang: in just a few years they were all gone; all confiscated. I'll tell some of my knife stories some other time.

Anyway, so the man bought me this knife with a great blade. As said, slightly too big and curved but very mean looking. Highly impractical for a camp-site and very good everywhere else.
Now it is gone.

I will soon go to my favourite knife shop and do more than just stare at the cabinets with my hands behind my back and my nose against the glass. No more drooling only.

I take recommendations. 
(Legal pocket knifes only, please.)

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Tunnel

We have crossed the English Channel twice for the first time.
No. Not true. The first crossing was the first time, the second crossing was not.

We took the bus to England just to experience the crossing. I wanted it.
I got it. (It was my birthday trip after all.)

In Calais, everybody got off the bus with all luggage to pass the French customs, and then reboarding.
Three hundred meters further up, everybody got off the bus, without luggage, to pass UK customs. Then we waited until everybody got through, I think they all did, and then we waited again.
The next train eventually opened to allow the buses on. Almost all bus drivers did it skilfully.
It was highly amusing.

We were allowed off the bus during the odd thirty minutes it took to get us under the water. I had my nose to the small windows to see as much of the above ground travels as possible.
After that there really was not anything to do during the crossing (beyond going to a non-moving toilet) or anywhere to go (other than to the said toilets).

Driving out of the tunnel, off the train and up along the white cliffs of Dover (close to) was amazing. A proper experience! Beautiful! Worth the entire trip.
We were dropped off in Dover harbour and left to roam.

Returning, we were booked on the Eurostar from Ashford international. The train would take us across the channel in half an hour. Not. That was a disaster. Never repeat.
The train did not stop, we were rerouted to London St Pancras to take the next train, and last train of the day. Consequently we missed our connection on the other side and were lodged into a hotel for the night to take the first train the following morning. Juuuuust in time to sneak past before a French train strike started. Juuuuust very happy to have left the island.

Silver linings (there are always some): excellent customer service was provided in the middle of the night in a country where I used to live, in a train station I know every corner off, and in a language I understand. My collected knowledge from twenty years of business travel kicked in and the situation was handled swiftly. The man just tagged along, trying to stay unworried. We rate U.K./French Eurostar operation as highly unreliable and not possible to recommend.

The channel crossing went past almost entirely unnoticed. Not worth the money; any money.

We got home.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Handles

When the colander lost its handle -
a pair of pliers were attached with a rubber band.
The solution still is in place and works fine.
Sure, it looks a bit ridiculous but nobody who is willing to pay for change has seen it yet so no change has been demanded.
More importantly- it works! It is used several times every week for vegetables and pasta.

We have been looking at replacements, even stood in line to pay for one.
But then something, probably size, didn’t feel right, and the purchase wasn’t followed through.
I have an idea what the replacement will look like, and how it would function. However, the need for a new colander isn’t very great.

When Not buying anything, wasn’t buying anything like a new flipper but re-purposing its handleless remain for something else, I was intrigued. It turned out to be a spatula and not a flip-flop (the non-native English speaker again surprised at the variety of right words in different places.) The sentiment of not buying anything as a matter of pride, I share.

You see, the metal spatula in our house has not had a handle in my lifetime. Meaning it was broken off before l moved in eight years ago. As it is of a different model, it still functions beautifully in all non-stick pans (and with the very occasional cake cutting). It is accompanied with wooden spatulas and other kitchen utensils. This one is unique. Not only that it is the only one broken, but that it is the only one of metal.

I think my position could be summarised as follows:
I’d rather give a hand than demand a handle.

We are still working on changing the handles in the kitchen to kitchier ones. Still not paying for it. Still walking around with a screw driver in my bag for when the trash gods will give me access to some broken furniture. (I found some fantastic ones a few months back but in the wrong size. Very disappointed). 

What is your current relationship to handles? Needed or not needed?

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Red

Project red wool has been finalised.
Or more correctly, is drying and will then be finalised.

As so many things in this household, things happens organically.
Laundry time. What needed to be laundered?
I did my winter scarfs, hats and gloves. The man has a winter scarf that is red and fluffy.
It can not be washed with anything normal or everything normal will become red and fluffy.
Washed it needed to be anyway.
What else was red and fluffy in the house.
Blankets in the sofa that had only been dried after the wine incident and never washed.
They are both red and woolly, although not quite as fluffy.
Fluffy blankets will not be a problems. The sofas are also red.
The man has a nice office sweater in red wool.
If everything was to be washed on the cold wool program on the washing machine, that sweater could be washed together with the rest (inside an old pillow case as protection).

Everything fitted nicely, the short program was run, and when finished -
project red wool was finished.

Except - yes, right - the drying time.

Small project for the day.
Together with all other small projects, raises the total organisation and cleanliness in the house.

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Selfmanagement

I believe in each individuals' obligation to take care of themselves as far as possible, to develop themselves as far as possible, to be as useful contributes to their society as possible and to be optimists.

Manage your own businesses, your own affairs, your own taxes. Know how to feed yourself, to cook, clean, sew and handle your house is the first step. Asking for help, that is also each persons personal task.

I once had a young manager who announced she did not know how to cook.
Proudly. Victorian. As if it showed something good about her.
In the same company there also was an old manager who bought a new shirt when a button fell out of a shirt. None of those behaviours generate confidence and I would want neither of them on my team on a deserted island.

I am most certainly not a 'prepper' but I am prepared to handle myself, help my closest and possibly you too. I am not a libertarian, I value the role of a society, a congregation, a group connection, a clan, possibly even a family structure. I think we need each other and I will want be a contributor, not a burden. Not only a burden anyway.

If we all start by handling and managing ourselves the rest of our energies can be brought to generate common goods. It would reduce the amount of pain for others.

I have high expectations on myself. I want to step up and work hard to meet at least some of them.
And I want to be the person who can ask for help when I need it. 

How about you? Can you handle yourself?

Friday, 6 April 2018

Broken bone

Oh yeah-

I have a broken bone in my foot.

I fell during the emergency action when I dropped my wine glass in the sofa and stained everything within a mile radius a week or so ago.
Because of the quick reactions and dedicated stain removing - the sofa, pillows, clothing and everything else are completely restored - it is sad to have to report, I am not.

The badly bruised foot - from blue, to purple, to green, to yellow - recovered.
It revealed that under the swellings, was a broken foot bone.
Just one.
Not that it really matters. It's only a small one. I have full mobility.
Nothing can be done by even the most skilled orthopaedic surgeon.
It will heal by it self.
I can walk, run and cycle without problems. There is pain only when touching the top part of the foot so shoes are a little choicy at the moment. The softer the top the better and I lace loosely around the break.

I have healed broken bones before.
I slipped on ice in the winter of 2009 and did a perfect James Brown imitation, slamming both knees to the ground. Almost without a scratch on the skin but I broke/cracked a patella. Staying of my knees for a few months, the bone was completely restored and after a few years, all bone scarring disapeared.
In 2011, I got stuck in a tram and broke the fibia in my lower leg. The break was clean, did not move and as it was supported by the tibia, there was nothing that needed to be done. As long as nobody kicked me on the shins (or me kicking my shin onto something else) it was pain free. It healed quickly but the unevenness of the bone setting could be felt for years after. By now, the bone is completely even again.

Don't try this at home. Do reset bones professionally as major internal injuries can occur otherwise. Ribs, collar bones, fingers, toes and other mobile bones however, are healed by taping them and rest.
No doctor is going to advice on anything else so save your time.

I have public free health insurance, I don't go to the doctor for these things anyway.
And I drink milk.