Tuesday, 31 December 2019


Ten years ago, I was alone and sad, about to move again to a new country.
Twenty years ago, I was drunk in Prague with a group of male friends.
Thirty years ago, I was on a New Years ball with twenty of my best friends, of course drunk and dancing all night.
Forty years ago, all I could dream about was to get away from home.

Tonight, I will be in pyjamas, hopefully only slightly drunk, playing ABBA as I always do and probably stuffed by all the eating that will commence in about forty-five minutes.

While remembering winter solstice and the new calendar year, we ate strange things out of the cupboards. Souvenirs from vacations: French Puy lentils. Spontaneous purchases in exotic food shops: Wakame and pearl barley. Home made saitan and home made hummus. Garlic filled olives. Cheese filled tomatoes. All odd vegetables gathered through the fall: Turnips, swedes and Jerusalem Artichokes (aka topinambour). Everything spiced with all dried herbs from our and our volunteer herbal garden are to be at least used: Dried mint, dried marjoram, rosemary, oregano, thyme, chives, what else? Small potatoes with butter. Blocks of Gouda, Edam and Maasdammer cheese. Snacks out of bags and if everything fails, home popped popcorn.

Our neighbourhood is fireworks free but our neighbours are not. Last year the students on the top floor apparently had a party that almost got them evicted, so we expect no trouble from them this year. Amsterdam is not a great party town, and I feel a little sorry for the tourists who will be rambling from one tourist trap bar to another, trying to find something that looks luxurious.

Oh, well, not much to worry about. 2019 ends lovely, healthy, content, solid, or simply put - all good. (some bad, but who cares in a blogg post?) At least all is better than the last day of last year. Now it is all good and shiny and lovely and a year ahead filled with dreams and ambitions.

Happy old year's evening, and happy new year's morning and day tomorrow!

Saturday, 21 December 2019


Do you dream? Do you have a dream that you use when making choices?

I am so suddenly surprised to find myself in need of new dreams.
I never thought that our dream to be able to live in the same country, and together, and with jobs, and with money and with our form of fantastic lifestyle, ever, ever, ever could become real.

This year I emigrated, moved in, got rid of my own property, got rid of most of my stuff, repaired the office, got a new job, found self-confidence again and learnt to use my new language on yet a higher level. Much bravery, hard work and prompt decisions. Of course still not fluent in any way, of course still suffering from professional pretence-syndrome, live in a small apartment with much more to do, still have too much stuff, and still try to fit into my new country. Same glass, half-full or half-empty.
I never knew, only dreamt, that there could be a glass at all. I am very grateful to my old-me.

The new dream is equally impossible but hey, why not?
Now we dream of everything staying as they are, although we might ditch the jobs, and the only added thing is a garden. How do you get a garden when you live in inner-city Amsterdam in a second floor apartment with no gardens?

Our dream could be solved by communal gardens and collective summer house associations. We have after long research found one we like.
The waiting line is at least 3-5 years, and probably more. We are no where close but we have great ambitions, hopes and dreams. There are not gardens available every month but we dream, hope, plan and apply for all of them. No, of course not, nothing yet. Too soon.
Dream on.

So we dream on, plan and prepare.
The trash-gods gave me a spade blade with a broken handle. The broken part has been dug out, the blade has been polished (and will be polished more) to be painted and waxed and sharpened and when there is an opportunity, I will get a new handle for it. I would prefer to not pay for the handle, so I hope for a serendipitous trash-god to be helpful, or a gift-card or somebody asking me for a present. The whole point of pursuing a dream, is not to pay for it but to prepare oneself for it to happen. I learn skills of tool maintenance which will be important for the future. I learn respect and patience and hard work.

We practise gardening on our tiny balcony. Herbs primarily, but also our temperamental bougainvillea and the tiny plum tree. Watering, feeding, protecting. I have three very tiny oak trees in pots I have raised from acorns and a small acacia also grown from seeds. By the time the garden can be ours, they will be ready to plant in the ground. I have also tried to grow lots of things that never grew, some however...

I am very happy, for the first time in my life do I have a lifestyle so regular that I can water a seed every day and make it grow. (Yes, my new lifestyle in my new country with no travels is fantastic.) I now have an avocado pit in window with a foot long stem and seven leaves. It will be ready to come out next summer.
I also try to germinate all citrus pits provided by the seasonal fruits, but no luck yet.
The man got rose cuttings from a friend and those are carefully tendered with the aim to root.
We keep out eyes open when out in nature looking for things to take cuttings off. That was how we got most of our herbs, such as our marjoram, oregano, thyme and fennel now growing in pots.

We also lready know how to grow potatoes, cabbage, artichokes and broccoli, and those skills will be put to the test in a real garden with real soil in the ground. Very exciting, slightly nervous.
Until then, until we get a chance, we dream.

I plan to build planters, swings, tables and steps. I make drawings, and read about digging, building, testing soil and building watering systems. We have a dream and if we ever get a chance, we will try to be ready.
Until then, we will enjoy the dream on a zero-budget.
Until then, we enjoy winter solstice, and end of the calendar year. No presents, hang-out parties with family only, drinks with friends only, no over-eating and no stress. Just enjoyment and small adventures and thankfulness. 

Wishing you all out there to find joy in the moment, today. You are in my thoughts.

Sunday, 1 December 2019


The end of the month saw some developments, which will hopefully add another two-three annual budgets to the financial independence number.
The total assets have grown fast with rapidly increasing financial markets, with salary income and with a low cost lifestyle.

Adding the assets at the beginning of the month when all rent is paid until the end of the year, and dividing them with the usual annual budget that I live within comfortably, has given a total financial independence number of 50,87. In theoretical terms, it means the assets would keep me at the current annual budget for over fifty years, hoping that any cost increases are covered by interests or dividends. It is a ridiculous number, not even in my family with indecent life expectations, do we tend to live past one hundred. Not often anyway and I think I should be able to take that risk.
In practical terms, I am over the accumulation phase and into the solidifying phase.

I will consider myself fully FIRE, and fat-FIRE at that as I have not included any pension rights in my calculations of my assets. There will be more money coming, there are social systems in place and protection both high and low. I live in a civilised society with a functioning state organisation.
I have also not included any further income, and if my manager does not have a mind-change, there might be no need to. The total assets will still be enough for my current lifestyle. As that is a dream and a goal from ten years ago, it is a good lifestyle that I will be happy to keep. I will try to remember to be content.
I will consider myself ERE. (Not so early nor not so extreme but retired anyway, and regardless if I work or not.) After the end of the year 2019 calculation, I will not look at the financial independence number again.

It is better to think about goals for 2020.
The goals for 2020 will be in the healthy areas, and in the learning new skills aspects.
Some sort of target for physical activity and not to let the weight creep back up again.
Some sort of target for becoming more correct speaking and writing Dutch, not that I have broken the barrier chat comfortably.
Some sort of target for learning skills in camping, gardening, building, electricity, plumbing with the ambition for us to be even more self-reliable at home and when travelling.
Some sort of target to have an adventure or do some sort of project that needs some planning and is a bit scary and possibly difficulty. It is an even year number after all. (Since 2000, I have done something odd and difficult every summer of even years, often something that needs a year of planning, a new language and a lot of preparation.)
Time to start the dreaming to do the work to get myself ready for an opportunity if it comes.
Are you using December to plan for your 2020-plans?