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.