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 in 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.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

DVD 2018

As a movie lover, a film watcher and a fan of acting; I own movies on DVDs.
I sold a lot in the large 2014 clear out but when I counted them in 2015 , I still had 150. 

I know I said I was going to do DVDs in January when I counted my CDs.
I didn't - but I have now. I still own 158 DVDs.
Only three of them are sport, yoga, training related.
Consequently 155 proper movies in my possession. The difference is surprising as I have not bought, been given or otherwise acquired any DVDs since then. (Except one about the Nordic Secretaries of the United Nations).
Still,  158 DVDs are what I own.

The man looked through his and within ten minutes had culled about half of them. One quarter were stripped of their plastic cases and put into a DVD holder. The rest were dusted and straightened up on their shelf. It was a quick job because he was in the right mood

I looked at mine and thought: "that is good, that is important, this can never be replaced, that has a sad cover but the story is important, that is another good one, those go together, these are all made by the same director and oh, look at this one, I want to see this immediately..."
Tentatively I hovered a finger over one and think "this could possibly go but only if I truly dislike it when I watch it again."

But then on the other hand, if I don't want to get rid of them, I don't have to get rid of them.
I am not a minimalist.
I am a frugalist.
When (not if) the content on the internet becomes available only to the rich, I will need to own physical movies and music just to have access to artistic expressions I have already paid for and invested in.

I promise myself to do a new inventory of DVDs every year and only keep what I like.
The target is to own 150 DVDs or less by next year... or at least not more.

We have started watching movies again and I have placed one or two that I have no interest in seeing again, in the on-the-way-out-box. The ambition is to watch all of them again. We'll see about that.

How many DVDs do you have?
John, Deb, are you ready with the updated numbers from 2015?

Monday, 2 April 2018

April 2018 - Camping equipment

The monthly task for April 2018 is 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?
For you in the southern hemisphere with winter periods, is it about time to wrap things up and pack it up safely into storage. 
Tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mattress, cooking kit, back pack, bicycle bags (a very urgent need this year, let me tell you later), hiking boots and shoes, sport equipment, camping food, and all the paraphernalia that surrounds it that I have accumulated and not really use, is part of this inventory task. Take it out, shake it out, air it, test it, use it - or move it to the on-the-way-out-box.

I know I do not need anything - and I really try not to want anything. 
I have over the years gathered all this stuff in one large plastic container and what does not fit there, is at least gathered in one place.  
It should be possibly a relatively easy task to go through it this year. I might even kick some things out as not needed.

Note to self: This is the year to make a decision about fishing equipment (a rod and lures in the book shelf does not fish it self even if you live overlooking a water.) Use it or loose it.

Going through the camping, sport and summer equipment is also a task that has become urgent very quickly. We are going on our first expedition already in April. 
Although not sleeping out (still to cold for that) all the light weight hiking gear and clothes will be needed for our week of rummaging through the countryside and historical places.
 
If anybody wants to meet up with us, we will be in Kent (UK) around third week of April.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

FI35,96

In times of extensive expenditure, it feels uncomfortable with a volatile stock market. It affects assets in stocks, funds, pensions and most of all - FI: my financial independence number.

I count it in the same way on the first of every month and it is the total value of assets (excluding property that I live in and pension rights that I can not touch or control). I will always need to live somewhere and although there are assets in the small studio that is my bolt hole in my mother's country, it is currently not for sale and therefore the assets are nil. I do not count the value of pension rights invested beyond my control before my retirement as the value is currently nil for me and what the value will be the day I retire, is anybody's guess. So I will not guess, but I do track the value.

I do not count the value of any other property (not that I have any) in my assets. Cars can go over the edge into a canal faster than you say "parallel parking in Amsterdam" and second hand items have none or very little value.
I have no debt since 2010 but that would be deducted from the assets (actually I do owe taxes currently and my employer owes me travel cost reimbursements - it will all be sorted during the month, and should if done completely correctly be included in the assets calculations.)

I log on to all accounts on the first of each month when all bills for the coming month are paid. (I have adjusted payment dates for all fixed bills to coincide with salary payments. It just goes in 'n' out and that part of my salary I never really see.) The rest of income is saved or booked for any other payments. At the end of the first of the month, I know I am financially secure at least that month - for what ever I can predict. The savings are invested with focus in long-term dividends and with the ambition of never loosing its value. I do not risk my investments - they are my financial independence money and they must always be there. Some available immediately, some in stocks with dividends, some in long-term funds. Everything is in my name. The man and I have separate financial lives for reasons.

I divide my total assets with my annual budget (that I live within comfortably and have for years) as I keep the costs lower than the budget. 

Currently the FI-number is 35,96 - meaning I can live almost 36 years within my current budget keeping my fingers crossed that price increases and dividends/interests equalise and compensate each other. I also still work - although only four days a week - and still add to the savings each month.

This month is another disasterous stock market month - although not as bad as last week. I tell myself "long term investments and dividends focusing so the current value does not matter" - but it is hard.

It is especially hard since I am currently also using savings from the "house repairs" part of the budget, not used very much the last few years to pay for Project Bedroom and will use savings from the saved "vacation" part of the budget to buy a new bicycle. With a new fridge in the horizon and warm weather for camping coming, there will be some serious (for me) spendings in the future.
I do not like it one bit. I do not like spending.
But that is what I save for - now I can enjoy the results of eating at home, bringing own snacks, never going out for coffee and having no car to pay for. 


Saturday, 31 March 2018

Clothes - March 2018

The results from the March monthly task are in.
I still have too much clothes.

You would think that not buying clothes, or at least very limited for years, would reduce the amount of clothes in the wardrobe. (Well, it has but there is still much more than I currently need.)
You would also think that loosing weight and packing up all clothes that are too big into a fat-bag would reduce the amount of clothes in the wardrobe. (Well, it did but I will continue to wear clothes that at least stay on the body (and not showing too much of its content). Only the completely too big clothes have been packed up.)

It did however help having to empty the wardrobe during Project Bedroom, cramming everything into the man's wardrobe, into a book case and onto the dining room table for two weeks. Having all clothes in my face left nothing unnoticed. The loved but not worn pieces of clothing became very obvious. (I am still looking at you, beloved brown suede jacket that I do not like to wear.)

Going through everything, using as much as possible (no laundry for weeks) and trying on almost everything before returning it into the old wardrobe in the renovated bedroom has left the following list:

- Sweaters (thin, thick, cardigans, fleece and hoodies): 19
- Pyjama (long, top and bottom): 9 + robe
- Sport bottoms: 3
- Trousers (summer, winter, jeans, hiking, office): 17
- Shorts, skorts and skirts: 6
- Dresses: 2 (+ red Paris trash find dress still waiting to be finally fitted). So 3.
- T-shirts (long-, short-sleeved, cotton and functional fabrics, inc. football, music and events): 38
- Tank tops: 12
- Skirts (including blouses): 17
- Jackets (office, winter, spring, summer, rain, and skiing): 16 (one less than in 2017 as the green jacket has been given to a friend who looks marvellous in it!)
- Plus socks, stockings and underwear of various types.
That's it.
-And shoes.
That is it.

The most shocking number is 67. 38 + 12 + 17.
I have 67 pieces of clothing to wear on my upper body, not including sweaters.
Sure, it ranges from the most revealing tank top via proper office wear to printed band t-shirts.
But nobody needs 67 tops, even if they are in 67 different styles.

The only need indicated is a pair of pyjama bottoms sometime before next cold period.
And possibly cycling shorts with padding.
And maybe maybe a pair of jeans that actually are long enough while fitting well.
The rest is covered by an even more extended buy-ban for clothes.

Friday, 30 March 2018

Bliss

The new bed has been delivered.
The old broken mattress has been picked up.
The old bed is waiting for its new owner.

We built the new bed with industrial efficiency and had it all in place within four hours (including the surrounding shelving and final skirting boards as well as replacing the ceiling light and the curtains).
(Nothing else is considered essential enough at this point.)

The room is beautiful.

Total cost out of pocket about €650 (€250 floor boards, paint, tools, side shelves, curtain cleaning; the rest payment for the bed after IKEA deducted the price for the eight year old broken mattress.) It will be reduced even further when we manage to sell the old bed frame. 

The new bed is heavenly.
Just wonderful.
Pure bliss.
Nirvana.


Wednesday, 28 March 2018

New floor


Project Bedroom is almost already over.

After three days, all walls has been painted, the old floor is out, the new floor is in.
I am now busy painting layer after layer on the radiator and endless amounts of heating pipes.
Three days! It took only three days (not including mental preparations).
We are so tired.

After all the discussing, planning, preparing and thinking and re-thinking Project Bedroom,
- when the going actually got going, the going went fast.

We have gone from this:
(note the cat-puke-stain, at least over eight years old
from a cat who died over five years ago)

It took one day to browse the do-it-yourself shops in the area via the internet for a suitable floor in a style we liked for a price that was reduced at the moment and with industrial strength (we are not redoing it in eight years), going to the shop, picking, lifting and buying and then with a borrowed in-store cart wheeling the heavy packages of floor-boards home through the neighbourhood in evening rush-hour.
Nobody raised an eyebrow. (This is Amsterdam after all).
It took an hour to drag the whole thing home.
Half an hour to walk the cart back.
Two hours after initial flooring decision, we had everything needed for Project Bedroom in the house. We reused paint already in the house (except radiator paint, had to buy more of that.)
Then it was nose to the grinding stone and just holding it there until it was done.

We now have this:
We are waiting for the bed. It will be arriving any day now.
Except the legs. We'll cycle back out to IKEA to get them separately.
A nice little 16 kilometre return cycle trip but then we don't have to wait for them (something.. something.. delivery problems... never mind, we'll fix it ourselves).
And painting the new skirting boards.
And painting the window frame.
And
and
and
and
and 

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

New bed

We have picked out the new free bed.
We add two fancy dinners worth of money on top of the amount paid back to us for the broken mattress and we will buy a new bed frame too.
Unfortunately it will have to be a standard 2,00 meter length but at least it will fit.
Hopefully.

It will be delivered in a week.
A week!!!!!!!!!!

We need to put new floors in, take everything out, paint the walls, scrub the radiator and the endless piping and - and -

Hyper active mode is activated.
Project plan is in motion.
The man has a week between projects. He'll do the day shift.
I'll come home from work in the afternoon and do a few hours as well as extra cleaning.

We'll be sleeping in the living room, squeezing ourselves past wardrobes in the hallway, doing double hard labour work shifts and not doing laundry for the coming week.


Friday, 23 March 2018

Free bed


The primary reason why we started thinking of Project Bedroom was that we needed a new mattress. The one bought when we first met (always start a new relationship with a new mattress) has been falling to pieces. Crap quality, we thought.

Then somebody came up with the idea to call the manufacturer to complain.
The mattress was after all only eight years old.

The manufacturer is our new favourite provider of household goods.
They have come up trumps!
We get a new bed!
(Equivalent in price to the amount of money paid back in 2010. Conditions apply.)
If what we choose is cheaper, we get the rest of the money to use for something else in their emporium.

All we have to do is to cycle out to their large storage shop outside town and go through all the options. Thankfully there are lots of options and designs any Scandi like me will appreciate (in restricted dosage).

Thank you IKEA, we didn't think it was possible.
Truly above and beyond customer service.
Worthy of a mention by name you are!

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

Stains

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

Orton

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.
Unfortunately.
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

Shoes2018


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

Toiletries

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

FI36,28

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.