Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Paints & Varnishes

There has been an inventory made of all the remaining paints and varnishes in the house.
The inventory took weeks to prepare and about five minutes to do.

We have the following.
Wall paint: white, dark grey, red and blue.
Glossy paint: white and black with a small jar of white radiator paint.
Dark oak wood stain.
High gloss varnish.
Hobby sized jar of golden paint.

Just to be completely complete with all paints in the house there are also
Nail polish in gold, orange, red, blue and clear, as well as
Oil paint for canvas in white and black.

The white and red wall paint will be used in Project bedroom whenever we get around to it.
Not re-decorating.
We will just re-paint it exactly as it is today with the left over paints from Project kitchen and the red left over paint from when the bedroom was painted the last time (thirteen years ago?).

Monday, 19 March 2018

One year ago

What a difference a year makes... (sung with the voice of Dinah Washington).

A year and a week ago we came home after living a month in Lisbon.
A year ago we came up from bed after both having suffered a bad cold.
We learnt so much about Portugal and Lisbon, about ourselves and each other during the trip.
We changed, evolved and let go of nonsensical ambitions.

When home, we set up a number of short-term ambitions. It is high time to assess what happened.

Alcohol - the ambition was to avoid alcohol for a month. I do not think that really happened. I drink wine most weeks (about five glasses in total) so it does add up over the year. There was a white month in January of 2018 that probably lasted longer than the ambition of March 2017.

Meat - the ambition was to not eat meat for a month and this ambition has had a lot more staying power. We eat very little meat these days. Perhaps twice a month for the man and less for me. This also excludes fish and seafood. Otherwise it is vegetarian food completely. (We are not going vegan.)

Daily walk - the daily walk routine continues but has been complemented with ten minutes of morning belly exercises. All mornings since then actually. I am still making attempts of running and weekend cycling trips. The subsequent weight loss of 2017 has made the increased physical activities more enjoyable.

Buy-ban - I apparently attempted a total buy-ban between March and June 2017. I have no memory of this. That is often the problem with ambitions. They are so easily said and equally easily forgotten.

New job - nope, didn't do that. Sent some applications, attempted some interviews but nothing very ambitiously or passionately. Hanging in with the old job (because what I do is good) hoping administration will stop hindering me from doing my job.

Stay close to the man - this is another of the ambitions that had staying power. I learnt in Lisbon that is does not matter much where I am or how I live. As long as the man is around. The more the better. The closer the better. Shoulder to shoulder 24/7 is good. For a hard-nosed fifty (almost) year old woman with an independent personality, it came as quite a surprise. The man is even more shocked. Thankfully he has the corresponding ambition (or things could become awkward).

Have you achieved your ambitions from a year ago?

Saturday, 17 March 2018


I am trying to wear all my clothes during March 2018 - or at least as many of them as possible.
Yesterday, I dressed up in a white shirt with a little cardigan for work. I creamed my hands in front of the mirror. I took a sip out of my coffee cup.
I dropped the rest of the coffee cup onto my white shirt.

Mumbling lots of bad words, I took off the white shirt, rinsed it and dumped it into water with oxy. I took out a new white shirt out of the wardrobe and went to work.
By lunch I noticed that something had dripped onto shirt number two.
Not very noticeable but still a clear stain.
Shirt number two replaced shirt number one in the bucket of oxy when I came home.

I put on my pyjama top.
In the sofa, I took a sip out of my red wine glass.
The rest, I dropped onto myself, the sofa, the blanket, the white pillow, the floor and the man.

Emergency protocol immediately activated.
Paper, towels, salt, hot water, vacuum on the sofa by the man while I soaked as much as possible of the wine into my clothes before I got out of the sofa. While I try to peal the white pillow case from the feather filled inner pillow, I keep the man with clean towels to focus on the sofa and I dump jeans, underwear, socks, sweater, t-shirt, blanket and everything else in the buckets of water.

While replacing shirt number two with the pillowcase in the bucket of oxy, I slip, fall and hurt my knee and foot. Bleeding I hobble around until everything wine soaked is under control and doesn't risk staining more than the sofa. The foot is roughly bound up when there is nothing more important to do.

A proper slapstick silent movie it was.

By now I have run out of apologies for staining his beloved sofas (thank heavens they are excellent quality and deep red in colour so should not show stains too much).
He is bored with assuring me he is not upset with me.
I am upset with me.

Today I am vacuum salt from everything and doing double laundry.
Hopefully almost everything will come out without much stain to the characters.
Except me. I will be drinking wine inside bin bag in the future. 

Friday, 16 March 2018

Project Bedroom

There is a new project brewing in the pipeline.

Through Project Closet and its eventual closure, several new skills were rediscovered and learned.
Plastering, cleaning and painting ceilings and walls is not difficult. It is just heavy work.
It takes time. It requires to clear out the space where the work is going on which will mess up other areas of the house - because we really do not have any extra space for store things that must come out of the work area. But it is not difficult.
We know how to do it and with a little more practice, we can probably do it really well and possibly even as well as a professional. Not as quickly, but with the same end result.

Laying a floor using click-floor boards is not difficult.
The man knows how to do it. He feels confident in how to do it. We have accessed the tools needed and we can use them. Having laid one floor on his own, has given him the ability to do another, even if it is bigger and more visible. That is the confidence of experience. I have also gained the confidence of his experience. If he can do it, so can I. If I can, so can you.
Not quickly, and not without having to work hard at doing it. But it is possible.
By doing it ourselves we can keep the costs down and the flexibility for when the work is done, up.

We need a new mattress and we want a longer bed.
To buy a new mattress without buying a longer bed is not an option.
We should have a 210 cm long mattress (we are both very tall).
If we change our bed, there is no other alternative than to solve all issues at the same time.
When a 2,10 metre long bed goes in into our tiny bedroom, it is never coming out again.
So a new floor need to be put in first.
We have a vague shared idea of the type of flooring we want.
Before the new floor goes in, however the ceiling and the walls desperately need a new coat of paint.
The radiator and all piping will be painted at the same time.

New bed, new mattress, new sheets, new floor, new paint.
All in one go.
Everything except the bed must be in the house before the work starts.

My large wardrobe must also be emptied, dismantled, moved out and stored in the office else while the work is being done, and to make it possible to fit the new bed in.
To paint the walls the wall-hung shelf must also be emptied and taken down and found a place for. Curtains taken down and folded up somewhere.
The old bed must be broken up and either moved out of the house to be picked up by the city on the special large garbage collection day - or, stored somewhere until we can use the pieces to build side tables from. Only when the old bed is out, can we take the old carpeting and under flooring out.
I get tired just thinking about it. 

From then on and until the work is finished, we will have to sleep on the floor. In the living room - but there are no blinds there? The office is very small and will have a wardrobe in it.
The kitchen is not big enough. The hallway - could that be possible? Could we sleep in the hallway?
There are no other options.

The preparations and the planning will be long and elaborate.
The work itself will hopefully take a week at the most but it will be hard work.
And it will not be done now.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018


Joe Orton, enfant terrible of  British theatre in the 1960’s.
The murdered friend from a normally dysfunctional family.
A product of his family history, his culture and his time.
Ambition, talent, persistence, personality made him.
Surroundings stopped him.

Read John Lahr’s biography of Joe Orton;  Prick up your ears.
See the movie with the same name with Gary Oldman for an excellent but sadly fragmented story.
Read the plays. Read them out loud to hear the drama and the dialogue.

We saw Entertaining Mr Sloane performed by our neighbourhood dramatic society this weekend.

I thought the play would be too set in the problems of its time, a time long gone by, to be enjoyable.
The play covers blatant racism, active death penalty, homosexuality, illegal abortions, sexuality, immorality, domestic violence, oppression, social and psychological control and references to rife abuse of every kind of vulnerable persons.
I think I was expecting something more like How to kill a Mockingbird.

The play travels time and space very well.
Possibly because the societal moral changes have not been as large as the societal legal changes since then. In some countries there have been no changes neither in the laws or the social morality since the 1960's
The play is therefore as current as in the north of England in 1964.

And whatever some may think, that is not a good thing.

The four actors performed it well, at least the second half when the nerves came under control. It was odd to have it performed in Irish English (I kept expecting Molly Bloom from Dublin to walk in at any time) but the English speaking dramatic society of the Netherlands will have to take what they can get. At least almost all of them spoke in a similar Irish dialect. 

Sunday, 11 March 2018


In the inventory of my shoes I made in July 2016, I owned 17 pairs of shoes and varying kinds of feet wear.
I noticed when looking into how many inlay soles I had, that some came from shoes now dead.
Clearly a sign that a new shoe inventory is needed.

Today I own:
1 pair of flip-flops (used for camping only)
2 pairs of indoor slippers (the same sheep skin slippers, mended and mended again with a spare pair still in storage)
3 pairs of sandals (one for the balcony, one hiking sandals, and one beloved city sandals. The nice-pair-but-not-for-walking have been donated.)
3 pairs of nice lady-office shoes (used only when dressing up)
2 pairs of sports shoes (one to run in and one for summer hiking)
1 pair of hiking boots
1 pair of winter boots

That means I currently have 13 pairs of foot ware (of which at least nine are in continuous use).

The previously owned rain boots were one day taken out to use in the rain. I found out that they had died the rubber death. Completely eaten up by themselves and useless. Nothing I should hold on.

Again de-cluttering made simple by the device: Don't buy anything and break stuff.

How many pairs of shoes do you have? Have any of them died while not being used?

Saturday, 10 March 2018


Travelling need to be easy to be enjoyable.
Keeping luggage light is an important part.
(What you pack, you have to be able to move.)

This week I might have reduced it too far. This was my toilet bag.

Toothbrush with a head cover, tooth paste, compact deodorant spray, eye cream, and box for lenses with liquid. I only brought the minimum as I thought the hotel would provide me with soap, shampoo and skin lotion.
I take all those things home after a hotel stay anyway and this time I thought I would just use it there. (Normally I end up bringing my own and travelling home with two sets of everything.) 

There was only one flaw in the plan.
This specific hotel did not provide skin lotion.
Eye cream was used all over the faced.
This hotel also did not provide conditioner. I didn't think I needed it, I normally don't use it very often. The quality of the water, dry winter weather combined with continuous hard-hat wearing days made me long for a conditioning rinse in the evenings. As I didn't have skin lotion I could not even make my own over night conditioner. (Dilute and leave in, wash normally in the morning. Put hard-hat on. Bingo! Gorgeous!!!)

I was happy coming back home to the man yesterday, leaving snow storms, freezing cold sleet under deep snow behind me.
I also left some very successful work meetings and relations behind who were teaching me almost as much as I tough them.
When I get to do what I do for work, I really do like what I do.
I am very very good (in my extreme niche position.)

Saturday, 3 March 2018

March 2018 - Clothes

The aim is to go through all clothes I own, use as much as possible, at least try the rest on for fit and only only put back the items that actually fits.
The clothes that don't fit because they are to big or too small will go into bags for "fat-clothes" or "slim-clothes". (These are not nice names, but I am not nice and you all know what I mean. We all have them.) The goal is that at the end of the month I will have no clothes in the wardrobe that currently does not fit.
Hopefully something will be left - but then, if not, I had nothing to wear anyway. 
The clothes that fit are to be used. If they are not used, if I do not want to use them even though they fit, they must go too. Clothes that make me unhappy by style, texture, cut, shape, form or level of derogation, really must be taken out too. I have an "on the way out" box that I, when I feel creative, dig into for re-fitting, sewing, deconstruction projects. That is not part of the task for this month. 
Nor is it to keep any certain amounts of clothes or to donate it. 

Three groups of clothing: 1) Fitting - goes in the wardrobe.
2) Not fitting but usable - goes in the fat or thin bag.
3) Not liking for any reason at all - goes into the "on the way out box".

Hanging clothes will have the hangers turned backwards after use so that I know where I am in the "go-through". Folded clothes will go back to the bottom of the pile after use. If taken out and not used, it will not be back at all if I obviously do not like it. (It can be taken out of the "on the way out" box at any time if it was a too hasty decision but usually it stays.)

This year I have nothing left in storage (clothes that are just doubles and put aside until the the other is worn out or clothes that there is nothing wrong with, nice, fitting, good quality but for occasions currently not happening - for me my office lady clothes and shoes). Everything is in active use - I think. I have no major events coming up that I expect to have to buy clothes for. The dresses and fancy clothes are ready for party at a moments notice. I do not expect that I need to buy anything.

(I am not a minimalist, I am a frugalist. The aim is not to have as little as possible, the aim is to get the most and best use out of the things I own and have spent money on.)

I promised to keep a list of all clothes I buy this year, and I will continue that. The list for last year was very revealing.
So far I have bought five pair of sports socks (€4) and a pair of black jeans in a second hand shop (4€), perfect fit and form but unfortunately slightly too short. I will be used as long as I wear high winter boots (as nobody can see it).

Thursday, 1 March 2018


The first of every month I calculate my net worth. I check all debt (none, rent is paid and the internal household accounts are squared). I log onto all three financial institutes where my money is handled (two banks and a pension account). The value of all accounts are noted down and assets that I have immediate access to are summarised into my net worth. I do not include the value of my small apartment as I will always have to live somewhere. I also do not include the current value of any pension or retirement funds as I do not have access to them at the moment. There is no possibility to assess their value on the day I need them, or my net value the day they start paying out. Maybe I will be in dire need of it, maybe it is only a bonus.

I estimate my net worth as the number of years it could sustain me, living with my current annual budget. Note, not the annual spending. The annual spending should be lower than the annual budget. With my current lifestyle, my current annual budget fits me well although I pay the upkeep of (contribute to) two humble abodes in two countries. It may sound as an unusual set up unless you have a summer house or similar, then it is exactly the same.

My current new worth will carry me for 36,25 years. I call it my FI-number: the Financial Independence number. I calculate it every month in the same way. There is no certainty that it will be enough for all those years but there is a hope that price increases will be carried by investment returns and interests. Hope. Anything else dramatic will need an adjustment in the budget.

With most financial estimates (4% SWR, a frugalist lifestyle, dividend pay outs, passive income etc) this should be enough for a safe early retirement. (Early-ish in my case as I am about to be 50.)
The conclusion has been reached that retirement is not for me. I like to work, not only because I like what I do, but also because I function very well with project-thinking, deadlines, progression and result. Much better than with total freedom, as it often leaves me feeling a little useless. That makes me make more project plans, so I could just as well have paid work. There is much progress here to be made still.
Since 2013 I only work four days a week. A pleasure I pay dearly for, and a pleasure I am happy to pay for. (Pay in terms of reduced income.)

I say that I like what I do for work, but there has been serious problems the last two years with who I do the work I do for. Not liking top management and their super structure, which isn't very super, at all. Middle management covers their mistakes as much as possible (poor sods) to keep the actual work going, but it needs to get much better before it gets good.
The FI-security makes the situation less stressful financially.
National health and social security systems are wonderful foundations for creativity and freedom.
I still feel good having income every month.
Maybe I should work on that mental financial independence some more.

Weight has increasing from the low of -5 kilos (five less than the weight I said I never would go above and still did, and worked hard the last year to get off more than 10 kilos). But it is still on -4 kilos so within the acceptable range. I really have to pinch me though to not become a slacker and an eater in the cold weeks ahead.

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Jewellery 2018

A few years back, I gathered all jewellery in my jewellery box. (I kept on gathering until I didn't unexpectedly found any more anywhere.) The box is made by my father, has a simple lock and I painted it white some thirty-five years ago. It is just a box, not really intended for jewellery, but I have squeezed a tray from another box into it to make two levels and to hold everything. The box is almost full.
All of it is dress jewellery and very non-precious stones and materials. What now doesn't fit, will now not be kept. The items with value are kept in a fire-proof safety box.
The monthly task for February was to go through it all and wear as much of it as possible to make sure that I still like or care for everything I hold.

In the box are - all costume jewellery and without monetary value:
Two watches.
Three long necklaces.
Four brooches.
An old soap box with frivolity ear rings, mostly eighties style (including gigantic rhinestone earrings for my diva days, gigantic black rings for playing Sandy in Grease, gigantic flies in soft plastic for Midsummer parties).
Box of pendants; memorable and rarely worn but put on cheap chains to spruce up boring suits.
Six pairs of normal earrings.
Six different sorts of short necklaces and three thin chains with small pendants.
Five bracelets.

Wearing jewellery in February every year brightens up the dark month in northern Europe and keeps me from needing any more.
I have worn everything this last month.
Except the brooches.
There is just something about brooches that is not my thing right now. On the hat, on a scarf, on a collar, on a shoulder - it is always is in the way and snags everything. There was no day in the entire month when I felt comfortable wearing any of my mother's brooches or the brooch a boy gave me when I was six. (It is a spider so I am keeping it.) If anybody has any advice on brooch wearing, I'll be happy to hear it!

I also have a fire-safety box with items of any value (monetary or mental, not just jewellery). I have worn the gold (plated) watch although it does not work, my grand-mother's old silver bracelet, my mother's gold-pearl necklace and the gold necklace one of my first boyfriends gave me. Most of the rest jewellery is scraps and crammed up to be sold one day of need.

The reason I wear my decorative items regularly is to stop me from looking at or buy or make any more. I even went to the diamond polishing factory the other day without being even slightly interesting in any jewellery. (The machinery on the other hand - marvellous!)

The only thing not in the boxes is the ring and the watch I wear everyday. The watch shows date and day and time and the ring has no meaning except that the man has an identical one.

I have no wishes or needs for any more jewellery.

Monday, 26 February 2018

Home life 2018

The only thing that fascinates me more than change, is diversity.
I have limited patience with fiction, as it rarely - ever? - surpasses reality.
Other people’s lives are endlessly interesting and here is ours.

We are a couple who live together. So we cook together, do dishes together and clean together.
Mostly at the same time (but we are unusual so do not take that as an example) but definitely for each other.
We are also two adults. Nobody is in charge of anything. Anybody can ask the other for anything.

We have no rules, but we have routines. If one cooks dinner, the other does dishes. I vacuum more often because I have hair. The man cleans the toilet more often because he cares (more than I do, I am rather gross-resistant). If you do laundry, you hang and the other will fold, eventually. Each puts clothes back in own wardrobe and irons own clothes, if needed. We have his and hers tool box and both fix things (we are annoyed about different problems). I dust, clear cups, throw papers, fold blankets more often than the man because he cares not. He waters the plants. If he leaves clothes on the floor, I walk on it (not on purpose but I am not sidestepping). Anything needed is written on the shopping list and is bought by the next person going to the shops.

He cooks better than I do, but has less inspiration. I can feed twenty hungry twenty year old's from an empty kitchen (having been trained at cooking at the student club at uni) in twenty minutes. Often I make the meal plan, cut and chop and while the man cooks and spices, continuous to do dishes, set table and fill water bottles until food is served. (We cook all our food at home from scratch every day.) This is if I am at home.

We have a varied work life. We go from not working, to working from home, to working in a local office, commuting an hour each way to working abroad weeks at the time. Changes are constant. Routines doesn’t change much though but whoever is at home, will do more than the one who travels. And usually has the place clean and the dinner ready when the other comes home. If not, no problem. Both are excused for anything and both adults fully capable to take care of the other.

If I came home to a list of chores on the fridge door with tasks to perform and check off, I would emigrate. Again.
Especially if there had been no gentle reminding, prodding, nagging and outright arguing over the issue before. Preferably a mature conversation.

I do in the house what I see need to be done and I prioritise having it done before a lot of other things.
Having a clean kitchen in the morning is something I value. So I do dishes and clean the table tops in the evening.
Some evenings I don’t.
Some evenings I don’t have to because I live with someone who also likes to make morning coffee in a clean kitchen. So he does it too.

When the man is away, I eat potato chips for dinner. Out of the bag.
The man pretends he doesn’t know.
When I am away, the man does all his dishes while I travel from the airport. Or that is what I think.
Both behave better together than apart.

Sunday, 25 February 2018


When I said that decluttering was easy- just don't buy anything and keep breaking stuff - I didn't mean the fridge!!

A few months ago we started being annoyed that the fridge door didn't close properly. It was diagnosed as one of us could not close the door properly. The identity varied.

We started kicking the door shut, slamming it, tapping it twice to be obvious.
"At least I can close the frigg... the fridging door".

A few weeks ago we figured out that there were a problem with the hinge on the door.
The bottom one was weak so the door sagged and could not close properly.

The door was from then on closed by lifting it carefully and then closing it.
It worked fine.
No problem at all.
Maybe we wouldn't need to buy a new fridge.

But maybe we did.
Weeks went by and we did nothing about it.
It worked fine, no problems. The fridge wasn't even very old. Only eleven - oh really, you bought it then?, so - twenty three years old.

Looking more carefully on the hinge, I realised it was not the hinge that was the problem.
It was the bottom of the door that was deteriorating and the hinge had nothing to hold on to.

Maybe we did need a new fridge. Energy efficiency alone said we needed a new fridge.
Looking into the market, we realised that we wanted exactly what we had (size and volume) and that nobody sold anything that small any more. Maybe we only needed a new door? Or even just a spare part. Where there spare parts to our fridge?
Searching further into the depth of the manufacturer of the current fridge (to be exact freezer-fridge) there were spare parts.
I like spare parts.
Diving into the lists, diagrams and identification numbers displayed on three national spare part providers web sites, I enjoyed myself immensely for two hours.
I resurfaced and realised, the piece broken was not offered as a spare part.

Still in pyjama, the tool boxes came out (both his and hers), the battery operated drill was charged up and the fridge door and the hinge came off. Several modifications later, added a quite large spacer disc picked up off the street some time (I like shiny things), the hinge came back on and the door was reattached.
Closed perfectly.

It only took three days for us to stop lifting the door when closing it.
We are still buying a new fridge but with a little bit of handy magic, we are now not in a hurry.
But I doubt the fix will for very last long.
We need to look into freezer-fridges of the smaller kind. My favourite thing to do. (irony)

I added a new fridge-freezer to our wish-list (and try to forget about it hoping the man will do it).

Saturday, 24 February 2018


At 11 o’clock, I was fine, happy, energetic.
At 1, I felt the first tingle at the back of my throat.
At 3, I was rolled up in blankets shivering.

In the meantime, I had sprung into action. Vitamins supplements, anti flu medication, paracetamol, a bag of potato chips and half a Brie cheese had been eaten quickly and a liter of lemon infused water quickly drunk. Feeding the body is essential to keep the immune system working.
Also a hot shower, three layers of clothes, warm socks, scarf and hat had been arranged to keep the body warm. With teeth brushed, tongue scraped, mouth gurgling fulfilled to reduce continued bacterial growth and to limit contamination, I went into full on fever by early afternoon.

I have had it before. I know what to do. I am prepared and I act quickly at the first sign.
I rarely get sick but when I do, it is intense. Like small children intense but usually short lasting.

Now, about 24 hours later, all that remains is a slight sniffer in the nose and some disorientation.
The heart didn’t like is at all however and is acting up.
The baby illness grew into a toddler temper tantrum.
But I am prepared for that too, and should be back on all cylinders within the next 24 hours or so.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018


Know what you have.
Control begins with a list.

And oh man, did I get water on my watermill the other day (meaning I was proven right with something I have been saying a long time).

I needed an inlay sole for one of my running sports shoes the other day. I knew I had saved some from old shoes. However they would all be perfectly good pairs and I only needed about a quarter of a sole. Unnecessary to cut up something that could be used for something better. They also would not be the right kind. I was eyeing the soles I had put in my indoor slippers in December.

The man said he had come across a pair of spare soles in the basement when he was digging through some of his boxes when clearing during Project Closet. Did I want them? Depending what they looked like, sure.
They turned out to be the kind I also already have and don't want. 
However, I opened the package saying "3 pairs" and found one.
Oh no, not one pair.
One sole.
But still only one.

For years (years and years, more than ten) the man had known that he had spare inlay soles.
Which is good to know. Except he didn't.
He had only one.
The first step of inventory is to know that you have something.

I still needed soles so I promptly cut a quarter out of the inlay soles in my slippers to tape down into my running shoes.
(It worked perfectly and no more protests from the knee.)

I have three inlay soles in my wardrobe, stored together with my extra shoelaces, shoe polish and rags in the same place I keep my shoes.
One is a new pair of leather imitation soles (with a third spare left sole the man graciously donated One pair was previously used in my rain boots (now dead).
Another pair are the brand name insoles originally in my brand name hiking boots from twenty years ago (now dead).
I realise I have drastically changed the amount of shoes from 2016 until today.

(There will be a follow up.)

Monday, 19 February 2018

Mirrors - 3

Beyond my favourite hand held mirror from Hungary in 1989 and the little compact mirror from Japan in the early 1990s, I have few other mirrors.
There might be a mirror on the inside of a powder compact, but since that belongs to make-up packed down into the medical first-aid kit (when else does one need make-up?), it is never used as a mirror.

I have however a sliver of a mirror. It comes camping to use when to put lenses in in the wild. It is only two x five centimetres and is probably rescued from a lipstick case (that is what it looks like, but I have NO memory of ever owning a lipstick case, possibly why I do not use lipstick, but I equally have no memory of where this little mirror actually does come from).
Any way, it is mine, it has a purpose. It is not pretty but it is light weight and inexpensive and if it breaks in my backpack, I will not be unhappy.

The house also has a long mirror on the inside of a wardrobe door, a mirror in the shower room and one on the side of a kitchen cupboard (because that is where we keep our lenses and get dressed for going out (hat, scarf and collar adjustments with the last minute "Hey, you look good" pep-talk.))
We have a separate toilet room and that has no mirror.

That is is. There are no more mirrors in the house. Conclusion: do not need any mirrors.

(I wrote that and then it hit me. "No, not right now you don't. But the shower room mirror has been struck by the mirror plague and is becoming fashionably distressed! How long are you going to like that?" I might be going on a mirror hunt within the year. Best put a new mirror on the wish list.)

How many mirrors do you have in your house?

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Tiles 2018

The annual tile scrubbing has been performed.

We have tiles in the shower room, the toilet and in the kitchen.
Yes, yes, we clean the tiles regularly as a part of the normal cleaning of these rooms. That means they are clean, but not scrubbed.

Now they are scrubbed, de-calcified, the white grouts scrubbed and all edges cleaned thoroughly. Nothing fancy used, just washing liquid and vinegar.
And a scrubber.
With a lot of elbow work of course - also with my left hand.
At the same time the floors got washed, not just mopped. It is a very pleasant result.

This of course has been carried out in the commercial breaks, during the meaningless interviews and the waiting times of the Winter Olympics. The man and I have lots to watch as our two countries does not perform in any of the same sports. But we do on the other hand have six different national TV channels and three other national radio channels to keep track of the different sports (sometimes simultaneously in different languages) so it is nice with a little cleaning break every now and then.

The work is contemplative and peaceful. Not difficult and while it still requires attention, the brain is left to wander in the subconscious. Unconsciousness gives relief from time and space, from cognitive boundaries and mental demands. The ghosts, the forgotten, the avoided pops up for attention.
I find cleaning a very therapeutic, meditative, Zen-like activity when I get into the ... the zone, the groove, the mood...?
The visible result is even better.

Saturday, 17 February 2018


The trip to Antwerp was lovely. I had forgotten how many things about Belgium that I really love. We both came home with lots of new experiences, inspiration, interests, and new knowledge. Not a single new item bough.

The opera was not great (the story is uncomplicated and some of the characters silly and deserves to be slapped). The Opera however is a traditional building and wonderful in itself. The performers fantastic and the dancers truly inspiring. The scenography by Marina Abramovic´ was just as dramatic and fantastic as the reviews have said. I really admire what she creates and although she sometimes scares me, it it just for my own good.
Just look at this picture from the OperaBallet Vlaanderen:
It was even more fantastic than it looks. 
Our seats had restricted view but with binoculars there was very little we missed.
The patat met afterwards (fries with mayonnaise) were, of course, the best in the world.

Also memorable from the weekend was the Museum van den Bergh - currently part of the Ecce Homo exhibition in Antwerp and with several pieces moved around - but so good, such fantastic house, such extraordinary collection that we went back twice in one weekend. Now a must for every visit to Antwerp.

Another must is Belgian food - I had jambonneau (ham on the bone) and although I am predominantly vegetarian these days, Belgian cuisine will make me disregard that. It is wonderful. I also had rabbit in beer stew - equally unforgettable and delightful.  (When I eat meat from animals I have not killed myself, it really has to be worth it.) It was worth it.

The bus trip was smooth and enjoyable and punctual - the trains to Belgium had major delay that weekend (when don't they?) and considering I think we paid €7 per person one way, the train to Belgium is out of the question for future trips.

All in all a wonderful weekend. In total (with transport, good hotel two nights in the centre, bus, opera, entrance fees and all food, snacks and coffees included) we spent €200 per person.
We celebrate the anniversary of our first meeting with a trip back to the scene of the event - and Antwerp never disappoints.  (Could the renovation of the Schone Kunsten Museum BE any more delayed? Yes, it can! Now the reopening has been delayed another two years.)
Mais c'est la Belge - je vous adore!

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Opera 2018

In the last twenty-five years or so, I have seen Puccini's Tosca on stage in Greifsvald, Monteverdi's Orfeo in Gent, Philip Glass' Akhnaten in ... somewhere ... and that is it on the opera list.
On Saturday I will see an opera by Debussy performed in Antwerp.

Come and join us.
We will be the couple on the third balcony behind the pillars on the 19.30 performance of Palléas et Mélisande. In jeans, eating raisins out of our pockets and drinking water in the intermission.

Afterwards, we are going for the best Vlaamse Friets (Flemish Fries, the best in the word) with frietssaus (some may call it mayonnaise but it is very different) the nearest corner snack bar can offer.

We leave early Friday morning and the rest of the weekend will be filled with art (contemporary, modern and old), fashion (as avant-garde as we can find it) and history (printing and religion) with lots of walking of the cobblestones and avenues. Back home late Sunday night, having bought nothing. We travel on the cheapest long-distance bus service available, bring sandwiches and fill the bottles with tap water.

It will be magical!

Wednesday, 7 February 2018


"To the man who loves art for its own sake, remarked Sherlock Holmes, tossing the advertisement sheet of the Daily Telegraph aside, it is frequent in its least important and lowliest manifestations where the keenest pleasure is to be derived."

Arthur Conan Doyle - The adventure of Sherlock Holmes, The adventure of the copper beeches

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Airport games

Airports and hotels quickly lose their charm when travelling is no longer an exciting part of life but rather a mundane or difficult lifestyle.

There are ways to make stays at airports better.
- Go for a walk.
Travelling is not good for training. One way to get some physical exercise into the travel day is to go for a walk through the airport or the terminal. Kastrup, Copenhagen, Gardemoen, Oslo, Helsinki Vantaa airport, even Schiphol in Amsterdam are excellent for a long walk after check in and security. You can easily get several kilometres of walking done before having to get onto the next cramped flight.  Stockholm Arlanda Terminal 5 for international flights is dreadfully small and cramped. I actually try to go through security as late as possible here. The three domestic terminals all provide ample walking space.

- Eat all samples aka Find a treasure
Some airports have food samples available. Sometimes they are difficult to find. They are always there in Copenhagen and in Amsterdam. They just have to be found. Go look for any free-be handed out. Cheese, cake, tea, herring, chocolate. Go for a treasure hunt. A leaflet will count as a find if nothing else is available.

- Buy and pack an imaginary suitcase (game unsuitable for shopoholics!)
Imagine that you luggage is lost and you are required to buy a new outfit and bag of toiletries at the airport before you leave. This is fun and frustrating in equal measures for me. Very little fits my body and very little is in my style or colouring. You may find it easier to buy sexy lingerie than regular underwear. Brand name deodorant sprays than an efficient deodorant. Toothbrush? Difficult. Jeans? Forget it. Personally, I might end up in shorts and a t-shirt.

- Find ten things to smile about - or to
Look around, notice your surroundings and focus hard on finding nice things. Anything that can make you smile. Anybody you can smile to. A bright yellow colour. A sleeping baby. A ray of sunshine through a window. A flower in a vase. Somebody looking happy. Anybody behaving kindly to a stranger. Smile for yourself and for others. Hold a door for somebody and feel nice about yourself.
Keep it up until you clock ten things that you have smiled about.

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Project Closet Closed

We have finally closed Project Closet.

The final act was to sell the left over floor boards. The buyer came and picked it up today.
The man got a little bit of money.
The buyer got boards enough for a smaller project than ours. We got to close ours.
we got lots of space in the basement.
The man got a new floor in his walk-in closet. Lots of new space available both in the closet and in the basement. He also cleared out the content of everything in the closet, went through everything and placed each thing where it ought to be, threw some and packed everything left into logical piles.
At the same time the floor boards are out of the basement, the remaining items also cleared and re-stacked, leaving lots of remaining space. Not yet enough space for a fourth bicycle though.

The cost for the project was the cost for the white wall paint (25 litres, €25 on sale). There is a lot of left over paint on purpose and this will used for the other rooms that also need repainting.

Everything else was already available in the house. Even the skirting boards was already standing in the basement. EDIT: It was however not quite enough and had to be complemented with some additional strips for €7. The man also bought new saw blades for €10 that will also be used for other projects.
The other costs were already covered by previous projects and except the skirting boards, the money spent on this project will also be shared with future projects.
This enables us to carry out those projects with less financial strain.

This is how several tasks often can be carried out as zero cost projects.
Do what you already have the resources for. 

For the first time in months we have an apartment where there is nothing stored in the hallway or the living room. Nothing is annoying us and reminding us to get something done.
Everything (most thing) are in their place and
It is very relaxing.
Tomorrow there will be a project to clean, vacuum and mopping all floors.

This relaxation also opens up for the next project possibilities - thinking - planning - preparing.

Friday, 2 February 2018

Jewellery and valuables - February 2018

The monthly task for February 2018 is to go through jewellery and valuables.
"I also do my annual financial net worth calculation, estimating my annual budget and determining if it needs to be increased in February in preparation for the annual tax declaration."

My ambition for February 2018 is to try to use and wear all jewellery and other personal decorative items in February. It is such a drab month in the northern hemisphere and needs all cheering and colour that can be invented.
If I don't want to wear it, I should put the thing aside - either to be on its way out (gifted, donated or chucked) or to be put in the memo-box. Unused, unloved items really should not clutter up my jewellery box.

Years ago I gathered all jewellery and other personal items in a wooden box with a lock my father made for me when I was six. The more valuable items (in either monetary or emotional terms) that I don't use got locked up in a separate box, more to not get lost than to be kept safe.
If you are looking into handling jewellery this month, this is a first and occasionally difficult step to be repeated over and over again until you find a solution that suits your life and surroundings.

February is also a month after the end of the year, and most annual summaries should have arrived from all service providers and bookkeepers. Looking through it all now will make me prepared and make me prepare for the annual tax declaration (for me in March and May).
This is really really really boring and contrary to any and all of my natural talents and interests.
I am however very very interested in being independent and in charge of my own life so I force my self every year through the entire process. I have forced myself through this process since the beginning of the 1990s and it does not become fun, but with every decade, it does become slightly easier as I slowly learn to do it and understand what I do.
(And paying off debt and consolidating assets makes it all simpler.)

I will be rattling cheerful jewellery through February.
I even wore earrings yesterday for the first time since February last year. 
It's been a good year when earrings are not needed.

Thursday, 1 February 2018


Puhu -
the stock markets recovered just in the last minute. One of my investments currently stand on at a loss but it is a tiny part of the total assets and I will be fine by the time this investment need to be realised.

Currently I own 36,05 annual budgets - I call that my financial independence number. I count all my assets on the first of every month through. This FI-number means that I can live on my current frugal budget for 36 years hoping that price increases will be compensated by interests, dividends and value increases (that is a hope, nothing is certain).

I own almost nothing beside these assets. I have no car. I have no art, jewellery or watches worth much. My tiny apartment is worth a few annual budgets but nothing more. This value is not included as I always will need somewhere to live. I also do not include retirement funds or pension plans that I cannot control until the day I retire. That will pay out nothing for another 17 years so everything and anything can happen with those assets until then.

I am grateful that I have paid off all debt and for everything I have managed to save since then and have been able keep holding on to through conservative, long-term investments. I keep an eye on it but take as little risk as possible.
I use these assets to feel secure in my otherwise odd life and hopefully to dare to live a life that is filled with knowledge and experiences rather than possessions and worry.

The focus for 2018 is still on health, weight and head. Mental training, physical activities and many intellectual stimulants. And cheese.

Today I took a day off and because Amsterdam currently has the least amount of tourists, we went to the van Gogh museum. I got yelled at because I took a photo (forty big posters that photography was not allowed and I still forgot - dingbat I am, I am.).
But look...
Copyright: van Gogh museum, Amsterdam
Vincent van Gogh painted (copied) Hiroshige too! I knew but I didn't know they were on display.
Pleasant surprise! ("NO PHOTO!)

Saturday, 27 January 2018

Food - January 2018

My monthly task for January 2018 was Food:
"Go through all leftovers and remains in cupboards, storage, freezer, and fridge. Use everything dated by the previous year, look especially at spices."

Eating all food that is already paid for and brought into the house,  is one of the most efficient ways to reduce food expenses.  
It also reduces food waste, lowers the environmental impact and creates attention to consumption of food - including all sorts of issues with a persons relationship to food.
We normally eat out all cabinets before we turn everything off and leave for summer vacation. This year we instead ate our food souvenirs for the winter holidays. With a little bit of planning, we went into January with almost empty food storages (except breakfast oatmeal flakes that was bulked for the coming year last summer. The only thing left in the freezer were herbs harvested from the balcony during the summer (mint, parsley and saliva) and home-baked bread (using up all opened flour packages). The only thing left in the fridge were pickled herring, soy sauce, bottled lemon and sirop to mix lemonade. 

The clear out started with a quick go through of all food storage, while making a quick list of things we ought to eat. This included all fresh food and vegetables, everything frozen and everything of unknown age, all opened packages, as well as anything with lower storage time than unlimited. 
That gave us a list with opened cans of different curry pastes, picked cucumbers, sun-dried tomatoes, chillies, mustards as well as different vegetables. Spices were gone through and anything with very little left, was added to the list.

Combining them for a new dish or adding at least one of them to lunches and dinners became a sport. 
Anybody who could use up something got to strike it off the list and was handsomely complimented.

We also decided to make our own ice-cream with the (in the last year unused) electrical ice-cream machine. The man is an ice-cream fan, especially with chocolate and whipped cream. I don't really like either. He likes the idea of making his own and I encourage that. All ice-cream eaten in the latest years has been bought. 
Finally making home made ice-cream for our new years guest the result was delicious but a) it's not worth the work b) it's not worth the money c) it's not worth the calories and d) the xffing thing doesn't even work properly! Even the man has finally declared the ice-cream machine useless and it (will any day soon) be moved to the bag where we collect electric and electrical waste before it will be taken to the city collection point.

The total amount of space cleared up in the kitchen after this clear out is astonishing.We really do not need to build more cabinet space!
We used the after-holiday sales to stock up with storage food in bulk and bought: rice (four different types), pasta (three types), beans (three different kinds in cans), lentils (two types), couscous, bulgur (two types) and polenta (only fine grain). This ,with the Japanese and Asian styled food and condiments, sets us up with the resources to quickly and easily cook from scratch.

Such as pancakes with cheese for breakfast today.

Wednesday, 24 January 2018


"   Brightly coloured Japanese prints began to arrive in European ports in the 1850s - Monet bought his first at Le Havre in 1856, and by the 1860s La Porte chinoise and L'Empire chinoise in Paris were two of the leading shops selling oriental wares of all kinds. Both were frequented by Baudelaire, the Goncourts, Zola, Bracquemond, Tossot, Whistles and Manet. At this point it was contemporary prints that were available prints that were available: works by such as Utamaro, Hiroshige and Hokusai were not generally imported until the mid-1870s.
  Japanese influence existed on two levels. On the more superficial plane it provided a background to life and props for paintings. Whistler collected blue and white china and painted his mistress in a kimono; there is a Japanese painting in Degas' portrait of Tissot, and two Japanese prints are featured in Manet's portrait of Zola."

                     The Thames and Hudson Encycopaedia of Impressionism by Bernard Denvir [1990],
                                                                                                                        page 120-121.

Utamaro (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)
Hiroshige, ukiyo-e print of the bridge in Shimomeguro, Meguro

Hokusai (British Museum)

Tuesday, 23 January 2018


Last week I bought kombo for the first time in years. Now I am making dashi, both simple kombodashi and bonitodashi, the most basic bouillon for Japanese cooking.
Kombodashi is water with a piece of kombo seewead. Bonitodashi is water with kombo and flakes of a dried fish called bonito. The combinations, the variations and amounts are numerous. No salt.

I have combined dried seaweed with different amounts of fish flakes in differently tempered water and with varying length. The kitchen and the fridge are filled with pots.
Some of them have a weak sense of the sea, others strongly fishy, some a mild combination and neither is disgusting. If we had had a cat, it would have loved me.

I will used the different concoctions for different purposes to see if I can understand the flavours and reactions it creates in the food.

I already cooked sushi rice with bonitodashi and it was marvellous. The best I have ever made.
Possibly even the best I have even eaten.
The fish, the wasabi, the gari, even the soy sauce - completely superfluously. I could eat with my hands out of the bowl standing in the kitchen and be eternally happy.
This was a rice to remember.

I also have cooked a sort of Japanese bouillabaise or hot-pot called Chiri nabe. I used one of the weaker kombodachis and I added a lot of vegetables for more flavour. It looked fine when served. Then I had to add salt. And soy sauce. Then sesame oil. And then we just closed our eyes and ate it with a sandwich with cheese afterwards. Not good at all. A meal to remember.
I will try it again with different dashi, different fish, different vegetables and definitely a different day (with a big dessert prepared).

So far a bonitodashi (brewed, cooked and stewed with the Viking secret recipie) is the favourite.

Monday, 22 January 2018


I have a lovely compact mirror. Besides my hand held mirror from Hungary, it is one of my favourite items. (Sorry about the potato picture.)

It was bought in Japan in 1997 or so and given to me by the people who started me on Japanese food all that time ago.

It has a regular mirror on one side of the inside and a magnifying mirror on the other.
The case is metal with a carved scene of a Japanese woman in traditional costume in a Zen garden.

One of the mirrors came loose and I glued it back in again. That worked fine. Unfortunately it seems the glue ate a little of the silver-oxide (or what ever mirrors are layered with these days) so there is a permanent spot in the magnifying mirror.
Note to self when gluing mirrors - only use as much glue as necessary (and if possible make pretty pattern just in case it goes through) or use tape.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Asian flavours

Working to eat out the cupboards following the aim for January 2018, new food is needed and new storages are being bought.
With an eye on the opportunity to change, I proposed that we left our tomato, mushroom, onion, cheese food and moved our flavours into Asian and primarily Japanese food.

We went to tree different Asian food stores and I bought:
Udon, Somen and egg noodles
Kombo and bonito flakes
Dashi powder (the two ingredients above make dashi but I wanted to try the quick version)
Mirin, sake, sesame oil, Japanese soy (the low salt version of the only brand possible)
Rice vinegar and hosin sauce
Tofu (firm and silk) and Tempeh
Wakame and nori sheets
Rice paper for spring rolls (loempia)
White sesame seeds to roast. grind or sprinkle
I did not buy yuzu because it was a bit expensive so I will continue using regular lemon/lime juice.
I did however buy flavoured dried fish in strips because it is so tasty. Better than potato chips.

I have been experimenting and cooking Japanese (i.e. attempting to cook...) since the mid 1990s. It has taken a very long time to understand the cooking methods and ingredients. I neither read nor speak any Japanese (beyond the words Anjin-san taught me in the TV-series Shogun in the 1980s.)

My main focus is sushi and I have always especially been fascinated with the cooking of rice.
I cook sushi rice at least monthly and very often for guests (it is cheap, impressive and almost fail safe). I have all the special tools that I need (and most of them are not special but they are identified as the sushi cooking tools.

I now want to improve on my Japanese cooking and I want to experiment with flavours.
The first thing I will do is my own dashi.
What should I think of when cooking Japanese and especially dashi?

Friday, 19 January 2018


I aim to be a good human being; a just, correct, long-term wide-scoped good person.
Not nice. I despise nice. Nice is for sissies. Nice is value based and determined by the situation and feelings. I do not aim for nice. Cows are nice and look where it got them.

I came in contact with a truly good person yesterday and I have a new role model.
A letter came in the post (yes, a letter came in the post).
A letter from a complete stranger informing me that she had been sent my airline tickets to her phone and that she could not find any other information about me than my post address.
(Hooray that all the work I have done to stay off the Internet with my private details has worked.)
She gave me her phone number and it is the same as mine - with two digits swapped.
Guess who the idiot is who swapped the phone number when ordering the ticket?
Oh yes, yours truly.

Instead of cancelling the tickets, taking the money, ordering more, using them or in any other way causing trouble,
and instead of doing nothing, leaving me to suffer perpetual from my own mistakes,
this wonderful person took the time, effort and postage to write me a letter to my postal address (it was on the ticket) informing me of the situation.

I am not sure I would have bothered - but this truly good person did. I really want to be bothered and taking the time to help others.
I have a new hero, a new role model, an entirely new level of ambition for my personal life.

I sent her a text message and thanked her profusely.
She immediately responded with a funny, kind and good message.
Now we are phone number relatives and it is fascinating.

Even more fascinating is that with different phone numbers, in different phone number series, this person lives less than 40 km away from my home in Scandinavia.

Thursday, 18 January 2018


In 1992 I was a night owl together with my next door neighbour.
One night she showed me the new wallet she had just bought. Brown leather with the perfect set-up inside. It was beautiful. The leather was soft. The interior was exactly what I needed.
I wanted it. Badly.
The following day, actually probably same day in the afternoon, we set out to buy me an identical.

The shop had only ever had one and it was the one they had sold her.
I looked at her with puppy eyes but no budge. The wallet was hers. She was keeping it. 

Three months later, she did not use it any longer.
I got it.
I have used it every day since then.

Tonight I spent well over an hour in my hotel room with a sewing needle and regular sewing thread in an almost matching colour, resewing the edging that had come loose.
I looked the brand up on-line for the first time and it is nothing special, nothing exclusive.
Similar but not identical, can still be bought for €10-20.

I don't care. I already have the wallet I want and want no other.
I was going to say that I do not need another but that is not true.

I do have a second wallet. The two wallets have different jobs and content.
The brown leather wallet does not fit all euro-bills so it is only used for Scandi-money and cards.
When commuting between the countries, I switch wallets at the border.
In the Euro-zone, I use a slightly larger brown leather wallet covered in its original but very worn goat hairs. I bought it on a flea market for €2 five years ago. I commonly refer to it as the goat.
The goat keeps my Euro safe.

Monday, 15 January 2018


"                                       November 16 [1981]: Port of Spain, Trinidad

I have been monitoring my health pretty carefully and am concerned about my weight - I'm up around 200 pounds, about 35 heavier than when we got here. Dana, too, has put on weight and is nearly bursting the seams of his jeans. We'll have to cut down on the starches and sugars we've become accustomed to, and still crave.
Dana's sores and wounds are pretty well healed, though my own continue to give me problems. My two biggest salt sores, though vastly reduced in size, are still oozing fluid and, sometimes, pus. In my years of research for the trip, I read about tropical infections, and am determined to have any sores healed by the time we go into the jungle, where the heat, humidity, and foreign germs can turn a mere scratch into a major medial problem. We'll have to doctor all our bites and wounds no matter how small. Malaria and dysentery are other problems that have stopped many more experienced jungle travellers than ourselves. I have pretty good resistance to disease, but that's probably what they all say - I can see it on my tombstone: "He had pretty good resistance to disease."     "

Don Starkell and Charles Wilkins Paddle to the Amazon
(p 231 in my 1989, Prima Publishing, edition)

Sunday, 14 January 2018


In my apartment I have Venetian blinds - or rather, I have one because the apartment is so small there is only one window. (The man's apartment have only curtains and pull down blinds.)
The window is rather modern and the blind is of the same age.
However, I still managed to break off the holder for the stick last year.

Today, when I dug through a box of stuff to try and sort it out (to make the box fit into another shelf), I came across all spare parts for blinds that I kept from when I repaired all blinds in my old house before selling it (nothing adds value to a property cheaper and quicker than functioning and clean window blinds).

I wiped off the window frame, and noticed that what was needed was a stick holder, a string holder (the winding part) and a new plastic end to the string. In the box with spare parts I found a brand new stick holder and  the broken stick holder, a sting holder and five new plastic ends.
Carefully detatching the stick holder, I carefully nailed on the new one, possibly two minutes job. Unscrewing the sting holder, the identical new one was in place within thirty seconds. Then all knots on the string were slowly untied (one of my secret talents is to untie difficult knots), the old end slid out, the new slid on (in the right direction on the first try) and the place for the new knot was estimated, this took possibly up to ten minutes. The strings are not very clean and slightly frayed right where the string gets wound onto the windy sting when the blind is pulled up. Ideally the strings could be changed and also the stick could be exchanged. (I have everything needed for this job in the repair box but it will not happen now.)

I decided to make the string knot so hiding the frayed part and shortening the string slightly instead. Tying hard, cutting the ends evenly and sealing the ends with the fire of a lighter, not burning my fingers when flattening the melting ends, the plastic end was pulled down hard to cover the knot and the end. This took up to five minutes.

Then I repacked the left overs of each item in its different little plastic bag, folded up and stapled shut, repacking the box with repair items, another minutes or two It finally fitted into the shelf and disappeared from sight.
I patted myself on the shoulder for the twenty minute job well done.
Then I promptly forgot about it.

Friday, 12 January 2018

Work part 237

Dear Diary,
Today when I walked into the office, full of pro-active ideas to solve the latest administrative crisis and malfunction, I immediately got into a bad argument with my manager. I walked out of the discussion within a minute with words that this did not go well and we'll talk about it later-something.
Sitting down starting my computer, I wondered why I was there on my day off (!) to work for the clients when the company who get the money, do not treat me better.
Calmly but tear-y, I packed up my papers. I was asked in the door to stay and talk about it but left. The manager called and texted. I called back later and we talked. He apologised for his words and he is forgiven.
The reason for the argument is his frustration which is the same reason as my frustration.
The eminent need for administrative changes.

I can suggest solutions but I am not in a position to implement them, nor am I in a position where that sort of process management is in any way a part of my job description.
I am a specialist, highly qualified, autonomous and irreplaceable within current budget and operations. The problem is administrative, low-level, generic and replaceable. It is caused by the new owners of the owners of the company I am employed by.
Their work is impeding my job and I end up not only doing their job, but also verifying, and re-verifying that the result is correct. I resent it but their company culture is without personal responsibility and lacking result ambitions so that is moot.

My Financial Independence assets that with the current low frugal budget will last me over 35 years, and a pension (equally frugal) that will start paying out in 15 years, is by each week becoming much more important.
Changing jobs is difficult as I also need to change countries - but then, hey, changing countries isn't the problem. I've done that before, several times even.

So why do I not just jump the ship and jump the border?
Am I again staying too long in a bad relationship?
Let's talk about this again tomorrow, dear diary, after I have talked to all my friends and family.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Free things

After several days on the road and long days on site and many many days with fourteen hour workdays, I come home and empty my bags before next tour next week.

From among the safety gear and the dirty socks, falls packages of instant coffee, tea bags and sugar cubes, mini bottles of shampoo, conditioner and lotion, pens, wrapped biscuits, hard candies in paper and even mint chocolates, magazines, hankies and toothpicks. Travelling in rich countries is to wade through free stuff, gifts and availables. I take it all, say please and thank you and could I have another one if you wouldn't mind. Is there also one for my friend?

I take what they will give me and I will save on tooth picks, hankies, magazines, mint chocolates, biscuits, pens, sugar, tea and coffee as well as any an all things left over from what I have bought in the cheapest supermarket to eat on the road to avoid airport cafes and the train dining car. I will happily snack on a sugar cube if I can wait for my dinner until the cost drops.

I have no shame - except for stealing. Like Meatloaf, I will not do that. 

Monday, 8 January 2018


The monthly tasks for 2018 will be the following:

January: Food
Go through all leftovers and remains in cupboards, storage, freezer, and fridge. Use everything dated by the previous year, look especially at spices.
February: Jewellery and valuables
I also do my annual financial net worth calculation, estimating my annual budget and determining if it needs to be increased in February in preparation for the annual tax declaration.
March: Clothes.
Go through all clothes in the wardrobe, try everything on, hang back if it fits. Pack all clothes that doesn’t fit in a “your time will come” box. Inventory everything left in the wardrobe. Hopefully something will be left - but then if not, I had nothing to wear anyway. I will keep a list of all clothes I buy this year.
April: Camping, sports, summer equipment
Most of us are outside more in the summer time than in winter and spring. Now is the time to go through everything. Air your sleeping bags, all of them. If you don’t want to air it – do you really want that sleeping bag?
May: 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.
June: 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.
July: 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.
August: 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, dics or cloud storage. Download all photos from your phone. Print special photos. At least send the most important documents in an email to yourself.
September: Shoes
Weather is forever changing and most should get to used in a year. All shoes should fit comfortably, heeled, cleaned, sorted and have functioning shoelaces.
October: Underwear and sleep wear
All underwear, including socks, lingerie and night wear. Count it, assess each one for wearability. Put the worst ones on top after each laundry and try to wear them first, to wear them out. If you keep them for "laundry days" you will end up with only bad underwear.
November: Books
It is time for sofa and tea, to go through the book-shelf, appreciate each book you keep (re-reading it is the ultimate test although slow) or use it for references. All other books - the advice is to sell or donate which I know I will not be able to keep. I will also not be able to hold a goal of not buying any more books, or even one-in one out. But I will at least count all my books and I will keep a list of all books bought and brought in this year.
December: Presents and decorations
What are you giving away as a present? Sort holiday decorations for all seasons, Xmas, Easter, Fall, Midsummer, birthday, new year.
Buy what you need for Christmas in December at the sales in January this year - that is now! Go buy Christmas decorations. Not tempted? I don't blame you, packing it up is a pain. 

I will also work on a longer Fucket-list for 2018 - including all the things I will not do this year.
(Thanks Klahanie commenting on She who seeks for the idea!)

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Washing up liquid 2018

As predicted, January brought sales on cleaning material.
Our laundry detergent is never on sale though as it is a store brand (and we are not changing to avoid all risk if contact allergies).
But washing up liquid was 2 for 1 and we bought two.
We have no dishwasher and do all dishes by hand. Two bottles will last us a year.

 The budget on washing up liquid for 2018 is spent and closed.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

John Knightly

"The whole party were but just reassembled in the drawing-room [after dinner], when Mr Weston made his appearance among them. He had returned to a late dinner, and walked to Hatfield as soon as it was over. He had been too much expected by the best judges, for surprize - but there was great joy. Mr Woodhouse was almost as glad to see him now, as he would have been sorry to see him before.

John Knightly only was in mute astonishment. - That a man who might have spent his evening quietly at home after a day of business in London, should set off again, and walk half-a-mile to another man's house, for the sake of being in mixed company till bed-time, of finishing his day in the efforts of civility and the noise of numbers, was a circumstance to strike him deeply. A man who had been in motion since eight o'clock in the morning, and might now have been still, who had been long talking; and might have been silent, who had been in more than one crowd, and might have been alone! -
Such a man, to quit the tranquillity and independence of his own fire-side, and on the evening of a cold and sleety April day rush out again into the cold! -

Could he by the touch of his finger have instantly taken back his wife, there would have been a motive, but his coming would probably prolong rather than break up the party. John Knightly looked at him with amazement, then shrugged his shoulders, and said, 'I could not have believed it even of him.' "

In chapter thirty-five of Emma by Jane Austen (first published 1815).

Friday, 5 January 2018


In the planning leading up to project Closet, all saws in the house were tested and found lacking.

None of them cut finely or straight enough to cut the laminate floor boards we wanted to use up and put into the walk in closet. The plan was to rent a proper, professional saw for a day to do the job.

Then the man thought again. Could it possibly be that the electrical stick-saw was useless because the blade was bad? Or was the blade possibly not attached appropriately? Or could it be the wrong blade for the job? I said.
The saw was brought up from the basement again, inspected, blade taken out, put back in, found wobbly and dull but when tested again - cut perfectly.
Great relief.

Together and joining our heads through communication, we again proved that we are better together than apart. (Any sociologist attached to Durkheim could have told us that.)
Very proud of ourselves we cycled away to buy a new blade and under floor foam for isolation (heat, damp and noise) while thinking of all the things we could cut now when we have a functioning saw.
Floor boards not only for the cupboard, but also for the bedroom and the office (potential upcoming projects), the curtain rod, table legs, balcony bench - endless options.

Knowing what we have, that it works and how it works was well spent ten minutes of actually digging the thing out and checking it out again.
This time we got lucky - one saw was better than we thought.
Most of the time stuff ends up being worse (but then at least we don't have to pay rent for it).
That also means that all the other saws are on their way out.

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Project Closet

We are working in the closet because we need space in the basement.

With three bicycles and hope of a fourth, the storage space in the basement needs to be reorganised.
A lot has already happened in the last years with the storage shelves actually used to store things in and at least two large boxes either emptied and trashed or emptied and filled with something else and placed on a shelf.

There were however four large boxes with left-over flooring in the basement. It has been there since three weeks after the man moved into this apartment over ten years ago and it was about to be thrown out.
Then somebody said - but don't we actually need new flooring in the walk-in closet?
The carpet in there is nasty and loose from the floor, with stains from cat puke and don't ask me what else, the walls have grey seventies wallpaper and a yellowing ceiling. It all got very obvious after the man put a new, proper ceiling light in there to ensure electrical safety. 

So Project Closet was born about two years ago.
There has been slow progression since then.
Emphasis on slow but never the less, steady progression although mostly mentally.

Was there enough flooring in the basement to cover the closet floor? After measuring, reading labels, calculating and at least two trips to the basement over a period of a few months the answer came back, yes, there was X m2 in the basement and the closet needed >X m2. We made a note an put it on the notice board close to a year ago. When the balcony furniture was to be put in the basement storage after the 2017 summer, we took the packages out of the basement to give us some more space, and we put the packages with floor boards in the hallway to act as a constant reminder to move the project along.

Did we have paint to paint ceiling and walls? Another few trips to the basement and digging into the remnants of project painting the kitchen it was clear that we did not. Reading paint information, looking for prices, calculating the ability to cycle out to the cheapest place to get the best and cheapest paint, and eventually a deal came up and off we went. We bought enough white wall paint to cover the two-three next projects too. It has been standing in the hallway the last two months, acting as a shoe rack and a constant reminder to move the project along.

Do we have the tools needed? One night after dinner with a glass of wine, this question surfaced again and instead of intellectualising the issue, we got up off our planning bums and gathered all remaining painting tools and equipment in a corner of the kitchen. Brushes, rollers, handlers, tape, plastic to cover, buckets, stirrers and a bunch of what-not's. It was all there, nothing was needed and now everything was in plain sight, ready to be used at no notice. It also acted as a reminder to move the project along.

Do we have a saw that can cut the floor boards? After a dig through all tools and stuff that should not have contained tools but did, a number of different saws (both electrical and hand powered) were collected for testing. Eventually a left over piece of floor board was added to the pile of saws and yet some weeks later, the test was carried out. Result: No saw that we own cuts finely, straight or strongly enough to cut floor boards. None of our neighbours would have anything suitable that we could borrow. A proper saw will have to be rented and a renting company for what will be the right kind of saw is to be found and also with a plan for how to transport it home and back and this is still in progress. First the room has to be painted in its entirety.

Do we have time to start it? Obviously the work has to be done while not working full time, or travelling or stressing over anything else for a few days or weeks. The man has been in large projects all fall which kept being extended and expanded. While the money was rolling in, only the mental preparatory work was being done. No date was set for when the actual work was to be done but the planning became more and more detailed.

What do we do with everything in the closet while working in there? Now this is not really my problem since I only have coats, dresses, shoes, tent and a big bag with curtains in there. The man has everything he owns in there, including most of his clothes. We do however have a foldable airing rack for hanging clothes stuck away in a corner that I've had for years and kept (and moved two countries over) just in case I didn't get enough closet space when I moved in here. It was brought out, opened, tested and placed in a corner of the living room in the beginning of December to be ready for when the man got time and inspiration to actually start working in the closet and needed to empty it.

It happened yesterday.
Now the living room is filled with hanging clothes, boxes of camping gear and clothes and stuff everywhere. The old carpet is outside in a bag waiting to be picked up by the city large waste collection and the man is happily whistling while working in the closet.
I supply the feminine touch with cheerful cheering on.
It is the closet for his stuff after all.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Will & Feeling

"Will and feeling are like Janus, two-faced. Sometimes emotion is in the ascendant, at others, will or desire preponderates. Consequently some objectives influence the will more than the feeling and others enhance the emotions at the expense of the desire in one way or another, directly or indirectly, 
the objective is a magnificent stimulus and one which we are eager to use."

Tortsov in the chapter Inner Motive Forces, of
Contstantin Stanislavski An actor prepares (first published in Britain in 1936).

My copy is translated by Elizabeth Reynolds Hapgood and published by Bloomsbury.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

CD 2018

I gave away and sold most of my CDs in 2013 when I cleared-out and sold my house.

I copied most of the content but not all onto a hard-drive.

I only kept the irreplaceable or emotional music on physical discs.

At the time, it was an easy task to go through. The process had very little emotional strain as most of the CDs had then be in storage for more than five years and very few had been missed. Even fewer were kept after two unemotional go-throughs with a week of rest in between - as well as two visits to "buying CD's" shops.

Today I counted 30 physical CDs. When I looked through them, three turned out to be language CDs and could be moved to the language book shelf with its accompanying study books and one, well one was a bit of a surprise.

I own Tom Lehrer, no surprise for anybody who have heard me sing at parties.
I own Herbert Grönemeyer, Krash (Krash-macher) and several bands from my formative years.
And Manu Chao Próxima Estación: Esperanza.
I also own a double album with live recordings from Woodstock.
I have kept CDs from several amateur musical theatre productions I have attended.
I kept, and I am so happy I did, Michelle Shocked Short Sharp Shocked as it is (almost) unobtainable now - even if I can play the album almost in its entirety in my head any day of the week.

It also turned out that I owned not one but two of Robbie Williams swing-blues record Swing when you're winning. I mean I do love it, but twice, why would I have bought it twice?
Isn't there something extra stupid about owning doubles? Possessions moves in mysterious ways. I placed one copy resolutely in the box for "on the way out, possibly as presents".

After looking through them all, I own 26 CDs with music, comedy and theatre.

My aim is to listen through all CDs all this year.

I also aim to ensure that the music hard-drive is still operational and accessible. I have not listened to any of this music in at least three years but I do not want to loose it all just because I am inattentive and careless. With access to digital music being limited (and to ensure artists rights, rightly so), I may have to depend on my own bought, saved and safely stored music in the future.

Remind me if I don't report back on this aim within the year.
How many CDs do you have? Have you counted them recently? 
And albums? And cassettes?