Burning Desire For FIRE

Financially Independent, Retired Early(ish) at 57.

Wednesday W’s #69.

What’s top of my mind:
How lovely it is to have days to myself.

After weeks of whiney posts about having to go to work again, you’ll be relieved to hear that I only worked one day last week and (so far) only one day this week.

It’s been so good to get stuck into things that need doing here at home. The garden has been kicked along, while on Monday I got up and suddenly decided to use the sample paint pot I had to start cutting in around the doors and windows. No sense in wasting good paint!

It took from period 4 to the end of period 5 (including lunchtime) to use up the paint. Ok, I wasn’t earning money but I’ve got to tell you – I felt far more productive during those 3 hours than I’ve felt sitting in a classroom!

Where I’ve been: out in the garden.

After painting on Monday and then a heap of ‘chop-and-dropping’ in the late morning yesterday, my legs were feeling it. But a glance at the weather forecast told me that we’re in for a tonne of rain today. I knew that if I didn’t bed the orchard down with sugar cane mulch, I’d be looking out of a classroom window at the rain teeming down and I’d be kicking myself for not getting it done.

So I dragged myself out and put two bags of mulch out there. I underestimated what I’d need, but most of the ground is thickly covered and the rain will bed it all down beautifully. Pretty happy with that.

I got Ryan28 to make dinner though. I was pretty tired by the end.

Where I’m going: to work.

I’ve been booked for every Wednesday this term, so I’m back at the new campus today. The VERY good news is that today is the day that I’ve officially earned the money for Evan26’s Clown College in France.

I do love ticking off a goal.

What I’m reading: The Book Eaters – Dean

I finished this a couple of days ago and how I loved it!

What I’m watching: Ted Lasso season 3.

Ryan28 and I are watching it. It’s our latest mother/son bonding program, first started when we watched ‘Breaking Bad’ together.

What I’m listening to: My son’s podcast.

While I was eating breakfast I skimmed an article about the 50 best life hacks. One of them was to listen to audiobooks and podcasts at 1.2X speed, to get through more content faster.

I can’t do that! I love hearing Evan26’s voice as I drive. If it was sped up it wouldn’t sound like him.

What I’m eating: I have no idea.

Ryan28 is cooking dinner tonight, because I’ll be home late. Who knows what he’ll decide to make?

What I’m planning: What I’m packing for my trip in September.

Yesterday I ordered a merino dress from a company called Wool& from America. (I looked at the Aussie brands, but they were very exxy.) I’ve decided that I’m going to take only one outfit for my trip, which will be this dress, and I’ll have the merino long-sleeved tops that I bought for Antarctica to layer underneath for warmth.

Autumn in the UK is bound to feel like winter in Melbourne on some days. Given this, I’ll be taking the fleecy jacket that I also wore in Antarctica as my coat. I won’t be terribly fashionable, but the beauty of being Frogdancer Jones at this stage of life is that I don’t care.

I’m definitely taking 2 pairs of shoes – my beautiful boots and a pair of white runners. I learned the hard way about the importance of NOT having sore feet when I was last in London in 2015. Scott and I had to go shopping for runners on the third day when I was nearly crippled by the sandals I was wearing.

** The Wool& company has a 100 day challenge, where if you wear the same dress for 100 days, you get a $100 credit towards a new dress. I worked out that if I start the challenge on July 1, I’d be finished by the time I get back home after my trip. I’m thinking about doing it.

Who deserves a high five: Me.

I’m really pleased that I’ve earned the money for Evan26’s trip.

When I left work I definitely didn’t expect to come back. But after a year’s total break, this CRT gig has helped out nearly all my boys with big life goals, as well as paying for my upcoming holiday.

That’s not bad.

What has made me smile: OMG! There’s a ‘Walking Dead’ sequel coming to Stan in a couple of weeks!!!!

We all have our guilty pleasures and (one of) mine is The Walking Dead.

I love watching a zombie apocalypse.

Currently, I’m watching ‘Z Nation’ on Netflix and it scratches the itch a bit, but it’s just not the same as the original.

Dad joke of the day:

Wednesday W’s #68.

What’s top of my mind:
I’m having the CRT day from hell.

I suppose it had to happen sooner or later.

The day at school is divided into 6 periods. Today I’ve been put onto 3 periods of sport (YUCK), 2 periods of Maths (also YUCK), and 1 period of sex-ed with one of the worst classes on campus.

To add insult to injury, I was also given yard duty at the canteen for the first half of lunch, when the kids are hungry and feral.

I’m starting to wonder what on earth I did to upset the Daily Organiser…

Where I’ve been: rethinking my life choices.

Do I really want to earn Evan26’s Clown College fees??? Today has been absolutely no fun.

Where I’m going: England and Ireland in September.

I’m keeping this trip in front of mind today. I need something to look forward to!

Last night Corinna messaged me about a stage show we’re hopefully going to while I’m in London with her. It seems so far away, but before I know it, I’ll be stepping onto that plane.

What I’m reading: Elektra by Jennifer Saint.

I finished this novel on Saturday night. I couldn’t put it down. I snuggled up on the couch with the dogs, a shiraz in hand and enjoyed the peace and quiet of the house as I galloped through the story.

I only had the haziest idea of Elektra’s story before reading this. I really enjoyed the way Sant entwined the perspectives of Cassandra and Clytemnestra as well as Elektra in her retelling of the ancient myth. Ever since reading The Firebrand when I was in my teen, I’ve had a soft spot for Cassandra. SUCH a good book!

I’ve also been reading Tricia Stringer’s books. They’re easy to read, family saga-type books that I can listen to when I commute, or pull up on my iPad if the class I’m in front of is quiet and doing their work and I don’t have to watch them like a hawk. She must be popular – my local library has a heap of them available!

What I’m watching: my life dwindle away.

I have just one more period to go. The Maths kids are doing a test, so the room will be quiet and miserable, just the way I like it.

What I’m listening to: Kids doing revision for their test.

It’s some kind of algebra and they seem to enjoy competing with each other to get the right answer the quickest.

It would be my idea of hell, but this group seems to enjoy it.

What I’m eating: What’s left in the meat drawer of the freezer.

Later this week I’ll be stocking up on meat again, but for now, we’re eating what’s lurking in the meat drawer. We have some prawns, some salmon and some chook carcasses that I make into stock for the chicken and veggie soup Ryan28 and I like to have for lunch on the weekends.

Last night I made a simple pasta sauce and threw some prawns in. Delicious!

Every now and then, it’s a good idea to eat down what I’ve stored in the freezer. It’s too easy to just keep stocking it up, but then it ultimately leads to things getting freezer burn and being wasted. It’s strange to see so much empty space in that drawer, but soon it’ll be full again and the ‘Ma Ingalls’ part of my brain will be happy again.

What I’m planning: my wardrobe for my trip.

I’m only taking carry-on for my 5-week trip in September, so I’m beginning to think about what I’ll be taking with me. It’ll be autumn in the UK, so things will be getting a bit wet and chilly. I’m starting to look at merino clothing, like I did for Antarctica. There’s a lot to be said for merino as part of a travel wardrobe.

Who deserves a thumbs-up: a young PE teacher.

He used to be a student at the school and he knows full well that I’m not cut out to take a double period of soccer on the oval. He conflated our two classes and ran the double, while I mopped up things around the edges. If he hadn’t stepped in, that double period would have been an absolute shit show.

I said that I owed him one, but he said he was just paying me back for teaching him some great drama games that he uses when he needs to keep kids occupied. Those lessons would have been nine or ten years ago!

Sometimes, I guess that teachers DO get their reward here on earth.

What has made me smile: lunch at Evan26 and Jenna’s place yesterday.

It’s handy having weekdays off. Ryan28 and I went across town to organise a medical thing for him, and after that, we dropped into the kids’ place for lunch.

We don’t get to see a lot of them, as they live on the other side of town, so it was lovely to loll around on their couch, stuff ourselves with dips and crackers and just talk.

On Sunday we went to spend some time with David29 and Izzy. Married life seems to agree with them.

It’s a fine thing to see your adult children so content with their partners. 🙂

Dad joke of the day:

Wednesday W’s #67.

What’s top of my mind:
The little things.

When we moved to The Best House in Melbourne, I brought a mandarin tree with me. It had lived in a pot its entire life and had given me one or two mandarins. Once it was here, I pretty much ignored it. It was attacked by an insect and it lost all its leaves and nearly died.

When I got the boys to make the orchard in the front yard for me, I felt that I owed it a second chance. Last year, it gave me one plump mandarin. This year, I could see two on the tree. But in the last few days, as they’ve begun to turn orange, I’ve discovered a THIRD one!

What an increase in production! That tree has outdone itself.

Where I’ve been: To work and back.

I’ve picked up quite a bit of work over the last few weeks. I’ve decided that I want to earn the cash for Clown College sooner rather than later, and then it’ll be another job ticked off the list. Evan26 leaves in a month and I’d like to have it all done and dusted before he takes off.

Where I’m going: to work and back.

At least, I assume so! Term 2 is prime time for CRTs. Teachers start getting sick as the weather cools down.

Though it was hard to get out of bed this morning as the alarm went at 6:30. Had to hit the snooze button.

What I’m reading: SO MANY BOOKS!

Goodreads runs a challenge each year. I decided to put in 110 books for 2023, which is the same number I had for last year’s challenge. I’m at 51 books as of yesterday.

What I’m watching: The Traitors.

I saw that Luke from Australian Survivor is in season 2 of this show, so I’m going to watch season 1 to catch up on the concept.

Yeah boi!

What I’m listening to: Back to podcasts.

The good thing about listening to an audiobook while letting your poddies build up is that when your audiobook finally finishes, you have HEAPS of episodes to work your way through. It’s the best of both worlds.

What I’m eating: nothing exciting.

Just normal things. I got Ryan28 to cook dinner last night. A simple meal of mash, veggies and oatcakes – or as we call them, oakcakes. It was beautiful, and all the better for being made by someone else.

What I’m planning: When I’m going to paint my lounge room.

Well; am I ‘planning’ it or just knowing that now that I’ve put the sample pot of colour on the wall I’m going to have to get the job done at some stage?

Maybe I should just do some CRT days and pay someone else to do it? It’ll probably get done much quicker. But I know I’ll do a better job.

Who needs a high five: Whoever invented Dad jokes.

Ahhh, Dad jokes. The way to ingratiate yourself to classes before you’ve said a word…

I’m sitting in front of a year 10 class, many of whom I taught when they were in year 7. Every few minutes I’ve written another joke on the board.

I don’t know if it’s a reward for good behaviour or a punishment!!!

What has made me smile: the year 11s.

For only the third time in 2 years, I was given a day of work at the original campus of my old school. At lunchtime I had yard duty around the portables and a group of boys were playing footie. Turns out they were the year 7 boys from my second-last year of teaching full-time. They’re in year 11 now.

They were SO HAPPY to see me! They brought up all sorts of funny things that happened in class back then, (most of which I’ve forgotten) and it was just a joy to talk to them again.

Dad joke of the day:

Wednesday W’s #66.

What’s top of my mind:
Working to pay for other people’s stuff isn’t as much fun.

Haha! I’m writing this as I work at my old school for the day.

Last term I worked full-time, but it was to pay for my holiday in September/October to England and Ireland. The weeks flew by and I ended up with more than enough money in the pot. Looks like my holiday next year to tick off my last continent has already got money towards it.

That makes me happy.

Now, this term I’m working to help pay for a holiday, but it’s for Evan26 to go to France. I’ve written about Clown College before. Even though this term I have days off here and there, it’s still a harder slog. Maybe this means I’m a selfish mother?

I’ve switched it up by adding another school, slightly closer to me, that I’ve been working at as well as my regular school. It serves the purpose of varying the days, but yeah…

… (it’s a lovely day today. We’d be at the beach, like these photos from Monday show.)

Don’t get me wrong. I’m enormously lucky to have access to work that is so well-paid and so easy. I like the idea of cash-flowing these expensive holidays and the expensive things my children need help with.

It’s just interesting to see how much easier turning up to work was when I was earning something fun just for myself.

Where I’ve been: Booking appointments and driving to them.

The next thing I’ll be working to earn money for is medical appointments for Ryan28. Two of his brothers have been diagnosed with Inattentive ADHD and we’re pretty sure he has it too.

He also has to talk to someone about his anxiety etc. Fun times.

These mental health professionals don’t come cheap. CRT for the cashflow win!

Where I’m going: A throat specialist.

Those who’ve met me in Real Life will know that I have a chronic cough that I’ve had for at least 8 or 9 years. Just before I went to North Korea in 2018, I went to a throat specialist who told me that I have an excited nerve in my throat that has set up a pleasure circuit between it and my brain. Any tiny thing- a speck of dust, saliva, etc that everyone else can ignore, turns into a coughing fit for me.

The specialist sent me to a speech pathologist (or something), but the exercises he gave me were impractical and so nothing has changed. I’ve finally decided to go back and see if something can be done. Coughing hundreds of times each day isn’t conducive to wild happiness.

I’ve been using chewing gum, lozenges, peppermint oil and lots of sips of water to keep the coughing to a minimum. I’ve noticed that alcohol is very effective in stopping it. Unfortunately, drinking wine during the day is frowned upon, particularly when teaching. I discovered when I was on the cruise to Antarctica last year that antihistamine pills are also great at lessening the severity of the coughing fits.

Still, it’s time to see if there’s a puffer or pills that can make my life a little less cough-y. It’s clearly not going to resolve itself if I leave it alone.

My appointment? July the 4th. Hopefully that’s a good omen.

What I’m reading: The City We Became – Jemisin

This is the second series of N.K Jemisin’s that I’ve read. The first one – The Fifth Season series – was one of the most original things I have ever read.

This one is equally gripping. It’s the first in a trilogy, of which only the first two have so far been published. It’s set in New York City, and the city itself is an integral part of the plot. There’s a map provided, but it ALMOST makes me want to visit New York to become familiar with all 5 boroughs. (All of those guns, though…)

What I’m watching: Masterchef.

I used to watch Masterchef when I was a thermomix consultant, as sometimes a contestant would use one and it was good to be able to talk about it with my team and customers. What I find really interesting is how all of these people’s passion and intensity are poured out into things like whether their Portuguese tarts are blackened enough on the top, or whether their ice cream’s flavours are balanced or way out of whack.

It’s the keen attention to detail that I find intriguing.

What I’m listening to: The Model Wife – Stringer

I’m in the audiobook part of my commute listening cycle… first podcasts, then when they run out I borrow an audiobook, then when that finishes I swing back to the accumulated podcasts again.

This one is a family saga-type thing. I enjoyed another one of her audiobooks so I thought I’d give this one a go. It’s ok.

What I’m eating: Leftovers for lunch.

I hosted Mothers Day on Sunday and I’ve brought the last remaining bits of salad for lunch today. Waste not, want not!

What I’m planning: Nothing much.

I still have to compile a list of everything Scott and I did in London when we were there back in 2015 and send it to Corinna from Antarctica. She wants to know what I’ve already seen so she can suggest some new things for me to do.

Apart from that, I’m just living my best life, enjoying my days off and enjoying my work days – (though not quite so much!) I have my veggie garden to put to sleep for winter, as well as the painting inside the house that I’m committed to doing. Putting paint swatches on the walls is a good way to make sure that the painting will get done, especially when they’re in the public areas.

Who needs a good slap: My father.

My father enjoys an argument. I really don’t; though as my friend Blogless Sandy says, “You’re like me. I won’t start an argument, but if you drag me into one, I’ll start swinging!”

This year, Mothers Day was marred by an argument between my father and me. Blatant misogynism? When it’s said under my roof? I don’t think so.

I guess you can say that he fooled around and found out.

I think this will be the last “Who needs a good slap” section. I usually find it really hard to write something here. I think I’ll change it to “Who deserves a thumbs up?” That’ll be far easier to fill. My world is a happy place.

What has made me smile: My old year 8 English class.

I was rapt to see that in period 6 I have one of the English classes that I taught last term. I’ve already bumped into a few of them today and they’re so excited! Their teacher has purposely given them work that they can knock over really quickly, because he knows we’ll want to play some drama games.

Looking forward to the last period of the day!

Dad joke of the day:

Wednesday W’s #65.

What’s top of my mind:
How much I dislike wishing my life away.

That’s the thing about going to work – my days are divided into 50 minute increments because each day is 6 periods long. As a CRT, I watch the clock, counting down how many minutes I have to go before the next chunk of day comes along, until the wonderful moment when the end of day bell goes at 3:10.

It seems like such a waste of my life, to be wishing away the minutes. The kids at this new school are fine – it’s not like I’m dreading spending the time with them. It’s just that I’m not doing what I want to do with these 50 minute increments..

Still, getting paid for it means that, sometime in the future, I’ll be travelling and using the money to see and do exactly what I want. Or, rather, Evan26 will be using this earned money to do the course he’s signed up for at Clown College in France.

So there’s a definite trade-off that still benefits me and my goals. But it still seems like a waste of life to be looking and the clock and counting down the minutes until each period ends.

Twenty-six minutes to go…

Where I’ve been: On Marketplace.

I’ve put the blinds up on Marketplace. Haven’t had any nibbles yet.

Where I’m going: to the library.

Turns out that I have 5 books waiting for me on hold. Better get to that!

What I’m reading: Old Babes in the woods – Atwood.

This is a collection of short stories, with many of them being from the perspective of a woman in her 80’s who has been married for many years. I found this collection poignant, especially the last section. They reminded me of my parents.

As an author, I find Atwood a bit hit or miss. Love her poetry, LOVE ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’, but some of her other novels were a waste of time.

What I’m watching: The Coronation.

Yes, I watched the coronation. I’m an English history buff, so of course I’m going to watch it. I enjoyed the mix of modern elements along with the traditions going back over a thousand years.

Camilla’s face when she was finally wearing the crown made me laugh, though!

What I’m listening to: A podcast about Roxelana.

I know I’ve mentioned The Other Half podcast before. This season, he’s discussing mistresses, courtesans and concubines. I’m in the middle of the second episode about Roxelana, who was a concubine in the harem of the sultan in Istanbul… and she ended up marrying him. She must have been a force of nature.

What I’m eating: Chicken Biryani.

This is from the Skinnymixers Indian book that I’ve owned for years. Never made it before. It was nice; a bit like Indian fried rice, but steamed.

What I’m planning: Mothers Day.

Originally this was going to be for lunch, but now I’m thinking that a late afternoon get together with an early dinner will be the way to go. I want to see all my kids, if possible.

Who needs a good slap: The inventor of Spider Solitaire.

I’m playing a lot of spider solitaire at the moment. It’s a game that you aren’t guaranteed to win. That’s annoying… so when the sound of applause happens and the cards ripple out across the screen, it feels good. I beat it!!

Pity it took 400 games to get here.

What has made me smile: What just happened at the beginning of the period.

The hip student teacher was trying to settle the year 7s as they were coming into the room. Whatever he said, they were ignoring.

Until I stood up, laptop in hand, ready to call the roll. I told them to be quiet – they were. These kids don’t even know me!

Dad joke of the day:

“Drool” is my favourite word.

It just rolls off the tongue.

Little Adventures #15 – May 2023: Phillip Island.

It’s funny with work friends. You can know them for two decades, see them every workday, and know heaps of details about their lives, yet once you retire, you see very few of them again. Or maybe that’s just me?

I travelled to China and North Korea with Blogless Helen and her husband Rick back in 2018. She retired at the end of last year and has been playing around with CRT work, recognising that it’s the best of both worlds. Last weekend Blogless Megan and I were invited to go and stay with them at their holiday house at Phillip Island.

Helen and Rick bought this place just before the pandemic. It’s right on the beach, where you just have to cross a bit of foreshore where wallabies and rabbits live before you hit the sand. They’ve done a lot of work on it already, with a new kitchen, new double-glazed windows and lots of painting and it still has the welcoming vibe of a family holiday house.

We drove up after work in the rain and arrived after dark. We found the key and let ourselves in, knowing that Helen and Rick were at the supermarket in Cowes and would be there soon after us. After we’d unpacked, I cracked open the bottla wine I’d brought. It was a gift from a year 12 kid a few years ago – I thought by now it would’ve aged beautifully. (I wasn’t wrong.)

It was a low-key evening. Bangers and mash, washed down with lots of wine and good conversation. I’ve hardly seen Rick since the North Korea trip, so it was really good to catch up.

I may have left my dogs at home, but I still had my dog fix. Helen and Rick brought their dogs. One great thing about small dogs – they’re very portable.

When we woke up, it was POURING! There was no way any of us were stepping outside the house. We settled into a morning of sitting around and chatting, fortified by the excellent omelettes that Rick cooked for breakfast.

By the time the afternoon rolled around the weather had cleared into a sparkling day, though as you can see in the top photo, the sky remained moody.

“Who wants to go to the beach?” Helen asked. Rick decided that he’d rather go surfing, so he headed off while the rest of us grabbed the dogs and went out for a stroll.

Their house is in the perfect position – literally 2 minutes walk from the sand. A short walk through the foreshore, where wallabies and rabbits live, then there it is.

The sand was a different colour to my Backyard Beach – more golden. this beach is a little curve, bordered on one side by a dog beach and on the other by the ugliest lighthouse I’ve ever seen. Utilitarian, isn’t it?

We walked along with the dogs, enjoying the breeze and the fresh salty air, especially after being cooped inside all morning. The contrast was beautiful.

We’re so lucky with our beaches here in Australia. I’ll never forget the awful shock I had at seeing the pebbled beach at Nice. How could this possibly be a holiday destination when you can’t even walk into the water comfortably? (It was uncomfortable on the feet – I tried.)

But here, not 2 minutes away from the house was a small beach so empty that it might as well have been private.

Once we were back, Helen started cooking up a storm. It was clear that dinner was going to be a THING! I knew we were in for a treat when she brought out the Ottolenghi book.

Then after dinner, the hideous truth became clear.

Helen is into playing card games in a major way. I, alas, am not.

The other three settled into a ferociously fought game of 500 that lasted for hours. I contentedly read a book. After I found out who the murderer was, I sat and watched them play until the wee hours. We had different types of gin to sample as the hours wore on, and coincidentally, we all slept very well that night.

The next morning I woke before anyone else. Fortunately, I was downstairs on my own away from the other bedrooms, so I read for a while, then decided to have a shower and sneak out of the house down to the beach.

When I hit the foreshore, I saw a couple of wallabies. I took a photo, but they were too far away to look like anything other than splodges. A woman came up behind me, walking her dog. I mentioned the wallabies and she smiled and said, “Oh yes. there’s hundreds of them here.”

As she walked towards the tunnel in the growth that led to the beach, a magpie swooped down and landed at her feet. She pulled out a ball of mince and threw it down for him. This must be a regular thing.

(And yes – I know people aren’t meant to give mince to magpies because if that’s all they eat, it causes deformities in their babies. I wasn’t the one feeding it to him. But it was still nice to see their friendship; it’s obviously a regular morning ritual.)

After I looked my fill at the wallabies, I followed her.

Across the water is the Peninsula, where my sister Kate and Blogless Sandy live, though they’re on the other side. I gave them a wave, anyway.

I was there on the beach for nearly an hour, with the place all to myself. I turned left, with the sun behind me, and walked as far as I could one way, then turned and walked all the way to the dog beach. You can see a man and his dog in the photo.

The birds were calling and I could hear the rhythmic sound of the sea. It was very peaceful. I saw some different seabirds from the ones we have in Melbourne.

After a while I found a spot and simply sat and watched the waves. it’s a novelty for me to be alone on a beach. Usually I have the dogs with me and I’m scanning the place, trying to avoid the bigger dogs that freak Scout out.

After watching the waves come in and out and enjoying the sun, I decided that surely they’d be up by now… it was nearly 9 AM! So back I walked.

Turns out that no one had surfaced. Luckily, it’s possible to reach the deck from outside the house, so I grabbed my water and a book and crept up to the deck to read my book in the sun. Normally I avoid the sun like the plague, but I chose a chair at the table where my back would be nicely warmed.

Megan came out to meet me about half an hour later, bringing her crochet, so we sat and talked while we waited for our gracious hosts. By the time 10:30 came around, I said to Megan, “I’m really hanging out for a coffee. If they don’t get up soon, I might get some pots and pans and bang them outside their door!”

Fortunately, these drastic measures weren’t necessary. As soon as Rick’s feet hit the floor, he was grinding coffee beans and putting together another sumptuous breakfast. The deck on their house is perfect for just lounging around and chilling.

We spent the rest of the day on the deck. Helen and Megan played another card game, Rick was on his phone and I took a short nap and then stared at the bay. The water was reflecting millions of little glints from the sun. It was stunning.

At some stage, Helen brought out some dips and crackers and we washed them down with some wine. It was late afternoon when I stretched and said, “Well, we’d better make a move. I’ve got heaps of paperwork to fill in for the new school tomorrow.”

As we backed out of the driveway, narrowly avoiding an old tree trunk at the edge of their driveway, (could’ve been embarrassing!), Helen and Rick stood, waving goodbye.

Up until now, I’ve never really understood the appeal of a holiday house. I remember Mum and Dad keeping my grandparents’ house in Inverloch after they died. It was double the garden work, double the housework, and they were locked into going up there to maintain the place every couple of weeks.

Not for me. I’d rather go and see different places when I have time off.

But staying the weekend up here was lovely. Helen and Rick are slowly doing the place up, making it a chilled place where lots of people can come and stay. I can see them spending many leisurely days there with friends and family, building lots of lovely memories as their family grows larger and school holidays at the beach will become a thing.

Yes, I guess I can see the attraction. 🙂

Dad joke of the day:

Wednesday W’s 64.

What’s top of my mind:
Should I sell my Roman blinds?

The people who sold me The Best House in Melbourne 7 years ago installed cheap Roman Blinds throughout the house. I’m going to redecorate some rooms this year and I definitely want to replace the harsh angles of the Romaan blinds with some softer drapes.

The blinds are in perfect condition… it just seems like such a hassle to Marketplace them. But I suppose once I get some cold hard cash in my hand I’ll be glad I went to the trouble.

Where I’ve been: on the next Little Adventure!

The photo at the top of the post is a teaser. Stay tuned…

Where I’m going: To Mum and Dad’s after work.

Looks like today is the only day this week when it’ll be convenient to pop in to see the parentals. I always park my car pointing in the right direction every time I work, either towards home or towards Mums. Today I’ll be heading down to Hampton East.

On the way home I’ll be stopping into Aldi to return a couple of dog jumpers I bought for Scout. We tried to get her to wear one, but she keeps wriggling out of it and leaving it on the ground. If she starts shivering this winter, I’ll be ignoring her. I tried my best to keep her warm.

What I’m reading: A couple of disappointing novels.

It’s not worth even telling you about them. This past week’s reading has been underwhelming.

What I’m watching: ‘Anatomy of a Scandal’ on Netflix.

I know I’m late to the party, but I just finished this series last night and I really enjoyed it.

I’m also watching ‘Alone’ on SBS. A new episode drops every Wednesday.

What I’m listening to: The Frankston Murders.

I’m onto the last episode and I should have knocked it over by tonight. The fact that Paul Denyer should even be considered for parole is an absolute joke. If he’s released, I’ll be very nervous. Every woman in the whole of Melbourne was very scared during his killing spree. Learning about the details through the podcast makes it even more important to me that he stays behind bars.

Some people can’t be rehabilitated.

What I’m eating: Food.

Nothing special happening with the cooking at home, though on my Little Adventure we had some lovely meals.

What I’m planning: My finances.

It appears that we’ll have some medical expenses coming up, so I’ve included an estimate in my CRT spreadsheet. I like to pop in ‘goal’ expenses, such as my holiday in September, Clown College and wedding stuff etc, and then slowly chip away at them.

I still have a few more weeks of clown college to earn and then I’ll swing into this new thing.

I suppose it’s lucky that I have the CRT work available to cover these sorts of things without raiding my nest egg. Of course, I could cover all of these expenses without having to work, but it just makes my single-mother-poverty-brain feel better if I leave my superannuation untapped for as long as I can.

I’m still too young to dip into it at the moment anyway… but earning this money means that my investment accounts aren’t getting drained as quickly as they might otherwise be.

I’m conscious of Sequence of Returns Risk. Being on my own, I have to look after my future self. It’s a bit of a drag doing CRT work now – but I’m VERY sure I don’t want to have to do it in my 80s!!

Who needs a good slap: Me.

On Monday, I was thinking so hard about the best way to drive to the new school I was working at that I started backing the car out… and banged straight into my gate. I knocked it off the gears so it couldn’t move. I was trapped inside my own property!

Fortunately, I was able to push like mad and open it just enough so, with Ryan28’s guidance, I was able to manoeuvre the car through the gap and out onto the road.

Ryan28 was able to get a gate guy out and he lifted the gate back onto the gears with a crowbar. A $220 lesson to always look in the rearview mirror.

Hmmm… maybe I should sell those blinds. It might cover the cost of the gate repair.

What has made me smile: My hanging baskets.

Sometimes it’s the little things. I have 6 hanging baskets in the front of my place. When I got back from Antarctica I planted pale yellow petunias in them.

They’ve been looking a bit raggedy for the last little while, so last week I bought 12 pots of violas and replenished the pots. Every time I look out of the windows or pull up in the driveway, I see those splashes of colour and it makes me smile.

Dad joke of the day:

Wednesday W’s #63.

What’s top of my mind: Helping Evan26.

Fortunate Frogdancer strikes again – the school who’d offered me a month’s work actually found a permanent replacement, which was great for the kids AND great for me. I might end up doing CRT work every day for the next 4 weeks anyway, but it’ll be for more money and in a school where I’m familiar with everything.

So yes, here I am again at work – on Monday I got a text from the Daily Organiser at 6:10 AM asking if i could work that day. Oof. Woke me up. This morning? It was a text sent at 12:45 AM. I’m not sure that that woman ever sleeps.

Anyway, I’m glad for the work as it means I can start salting away the money Evan26 will need for his course in clowning that he’ll be doing in France in July. I figure that 20 days’ work will be enough to cover what he’ll need.

People have asked why I’m prepared to go back to work to pay for Clown College. There are a few reasons:

  1. He’s already paid for his accommodation, passport and airfares. I’m frugal – I can’t stand the thought that all of that money could go to waste.
  2. Any money I shoot his way will be a loan – it wouldn’t be fair to the other boys if I threw thousands of dollars at him without duplicating it another 3 ways. I’m not prepared to do that – the last couple of years have been very exxy, what with weddings and helping towards house deposits and paying for holidays to see penguins and Henry VIII’s grave.
  3. The work I do isn’t difficult and it pays very well. Obviously, I’d prefer to be at home, enjoying my perfect freedom, but if the kids need some help, this isn’t exactly an arduous way to help them.
  4. The most important reason – he’s trying to build a career in one of the hardest industries in the world. If he was lolling around, never doing any work but was always “gonna” do it, then he’d be missing out on that course. Instead, he’s writing his own shows, going to auditions and acting on stage and making a podcast every week with his best friend. If he’s putting the work in – and I judge it to be good – then I’m happy to help.

Where I’ve been: Bunnings.

I’ve ripped out the pale yellow petunias in the hanging baskets in the front yard and I’ve swapped them for violas. In a scientific experiment, I put the half-dead petunias in the ground underneath a Japanese maple.

Who knows? I may get a few more months from them.

I also bought a tester pot of paint to see how my lounge room will look with a totally different colour.

Where I’m going: Phillip Island.

Blogless Helen and her husband have a holiday house there, so a couple of us are driving up after work on Friday to spend the weekend there. The last time I was on Phillip Island, I was selling someone a thermomix. That was YEARS ago!

What I’m reading: Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir.

This is the next novel he’s written after ‘The Martian.’ I’m enjoying it, though I have to admit that I skim over the scientific explanations for things. Some people might want to have the science explained all the time – I just need to know that these events happened and that the story moves along convincingly. I’m a little more than halfway along.

Every Version of You by Grace Chan.

I finished this a few days ago. It’s also speculative fiction, but it’s written in a very different vein to Project Hail Mary. It’s set in Melbourne, 50 years from now, which I really liked as when place names were mentioned, I actually know where they are. (People in the UK and US are probably used to this, but I’m not.)

It’s an interesting premise. Would you permanently upload yourself into a perfect digital world if the real world was dying?

What I’m watching: Beef on Netflix.

I heard some good things about this show on Twitter so I decided to give it a go. At first, I wasn’t sure. Everyone was so awful! But then, it grabbed me. The ending is amazing.

What I’m listening to: The Frankston Murders.

I’m old enough to remember in 1993 when women were disappearing from the streets of Frankston and ending up dead. It scared the whole of Melbourne. I was a new Mum and living on the other side of town but everyone was still locking their doors and being careful.

The guy responsible was caught after a couple of months and he’s been in jail ever since. This year he’s up for parole and there’s a concerted effort to make sure that he isn’t released back into the community. He’s a particularly nasty piece of work.

What I’m eating: A bread roll.

I should’ve had something more interesting to have for lunch, but then again, when I went to bed I didn’t know I’d be working. I had some home-made bread rolls in the freezer, so guess what I’ll be eating for lunch? A peanut butter bread roll.


What I’m planning: What I need to take to Phillip Island.

Well… I should be planning it. But it’ll be a last-minute “throw random stuff into an overnight bag” kind of thing.

You think I’d learn.

Who needs a good slap: Me, for not learning.

I just haven’t been in the zone for packing.

What has made me smile: a pomegranate.

I planted that tree three or four years ago. I have my first pomegranate growing on it.

Gardening’s so rewarding sometimes!

Dad joke of the day:

Wednesday W’s #62.

What’s top of my mind: I’m torn between fear and hope…

As I was doing Parent/Teacher interviews, I had a message from another secondary school, asking if I’d be interested in a term’s work as an English teacher.

Of course I said, “NOOOOO.” I’ve just finished a term of full-time work – and I’m retired.

As I talked to her I began to think. I still want to pay for Clown College in France for Evan26 – a month’s work would pay for the course and spending money for him.

So I told her that if they haven’t found anyone by the end of the holidays, I’d give them a month. The teaching shortage is absolutely a real thing.

Now, of course, I’m really hoping they find someone!

Where I’ve been: the garlic patch.

As I’m typing this, I’m pretty sure that my hands still smell of garlic, even though I’ve washed them over and over.

Last Christmas, Ryan27’s friend Viv gave us some canna lilies and some elephant garlic plants. I harvested the garlic 6 months later and today I went out to the veggie garden with some of the heads of garlic, ready to replant.

I’ve never grown elephant garlic before. Some of the garlic were separated into proper cloves, so I pulled them apart and planted all of them. (I found a row of plants from last year that I missed – they’d merrily re-sprouted!)

Other heads looked more like white onions – they were pretty much just one big clove of garlic the size of my fist.

I was going to plant these again, but in the end I cut them up into large ‘cloves’ and froze them. I’ve got enough garlic to last me until the cloves I planted today are ready to come out of the ground.

This makes me happy. Now that my household is so small, it’s perfectly possible for me to have crops like garlic that will last me all year round. *Touch wood* I’ll never need to buy garlic again!

Where I’m going: The other school, probably…

Yeah, I haven’t heard anything yet, so I’d better get my ironing done before Monday, just in case.

What I’m reading: The Colony by Audrey Magee

My friends The Festival Mavens on Facebook were once bloggers back in the day, when I began my personal blog in 2007. That’s how we met.

Nowadays, they travel to writers’ festivals and bookshops and post what they’ve been reading. I’ve discovered quite a few thumping good reads from them.

This is an interesting novel. I’m halfway through it. The prose is almost poetry at times.

What I’m watching: The ‘live’ reunion of ‘Love is Blind’ on Netflix.

On Monday morning I was startled by my alarm going off just before 10. For a second or two I was puzzled… then I remembered. Netflix was having their first worldwide live stream and it was one of my junk tv shows! Seeing as it was school holidays I thought it’d be fun to watch. I grabbed a lemon verbena tea (from the garden) and settled in.

Turns out that whoever had the idea for live streaming one of Netflix’s most popular shows didn’t account for the fact that MANY people would be tuning in. It broke the internet.

Ah well. It came on eventually – nearly an hour and a half late. I got so many things done while I was waiting! For a morning spent watching a junk tv show, it was surprisingly productive.

What I’m listening to: Scout grumbling and squeaking at me to stop typing and just throw the ball, dammit!

The dogs are loving having me home with them. I have to say, I’m loving it too.

What I’m eating: home-made pizza made in our pizza oven.

Ryan27 is cooking. This is his speciality. Seeing as he’s done bugger-all today, I told him he was on duty for dinner.

What I’m planning: my next Little Adventure.

Who knows what I’ll do and where I’ll go?

Who needs a good slap: Whoever has got something beeping from next door.

Ryan27 tells me that it’s been going for 2 days. It doesn’t really bother me, but it’s driving him crazy.

What has made me smile: A few things.

Memories of the wedding, of course.

Finding a row of garlic happily springing up from the ground – the sight made me race in and plant the rest of the cloves. productivity for the win!

Jeffrey and his stealth companionship – it doesn’t matter where I go in this house, he always ends up right beside me. Even if I simply move to the other couch in the same room, it’s not close enough for him. Sometimes he’s so sneaky, I don’t even realise he’s there.

Jenna volunteering to travel with Mum and Dad between the church and the reception. Dad was a bit leery about where to go and there’s NO WAY he’ll use the GPS installed in his car. Jenna is a gem.

Feeling lucky to be born at this time and stage of history.

Dad joke of the day:

Enjoying life: the wedding!

What a beautiful, joyous day we all had – and now I officially have that daughter I always wanted!

I love this shot – you’ve never seen a happier couple. They are so much in love.

The day started at my place with Evan26 and Jenna sleeping in the guest room – they drove straight down after Evan26’s last show, so we had a lovely evening talking and catching up on all the goss. It’s nice to have my younger two boys here without the older ones. They have a great relationship where they choose to hang out, which is an absolute goal of mine as a parent.

David29 and his Best Man Dan turned up at around 8:30 AM. David29 met Dan at high school and they went through a lot together. I truly credit Dan as being a huge reason why we were able to come out of the other side of David29’s teenage depression with him still alive and breathing. Dan has been living in the States off and on for the last few years, so he spent the night at the apartment and the two of them really caught up with lots of in-depth talks. I was so happy when I knew that Dan was going to be staying over with him. He’s like my 5th son.

By 9 AM all of the groomsmen were there and the morning was pretty cruisy. I’d written my speech the day before, as had Dan, while David29 needed to write the paragraph about Izzy, so while he was doing that, the boys made breakfast for everyone while I dragged out the ironing board and got to work.

In this shot, we’re lined up left to right: Evan26, my good self, David29, Tom31 and Ryan27. Yes, it’s like living in the land of the giants.

After the photographers left to head over to Izzy’s parents’ place, it was all very relaxed. We broke out some 21-year-old whiskey that Tom31 brought around, then some bubbly and snacks. From photos that have since been put up on FB by people on the other side of the family – it was a vast contrast at the bride’s place. It seemed that everyone was there – aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins – the joint was packed!!

Here’s me walking my boy down the aisle. I know it’s not traditional, but as a single parent who did all the hard yards on my own, I figure I’m entitled to enjoy all the perks.

The song we walked down the aisle to has a lovely backstory. I absolutely love kd lang’s voice, but my sons? Not so much. Two nights before the wedding, David29 and I were having a text convo where he said he was thinking of ‘Hallelujah ‘ for our walk.

“NOOOO!!!” I texted back. “Have you listened to the lyrics? It’s about a relationship that crashes and burns!”

“So what other kd lang song would you suggest?”

I instantly dialled his number.

“Are you seriously willing to have a kd lang song at your wedding?” I said.

“Of course!” he replied. This is our moment.”

Wow. You know you’re loved when your musician son, who has been ultra-picky about anything musical connected to this wedding, chooses your favourite artist as part of the ceremony when he doesn’t really like her much.

I chose ‘Fallen’. It’s beautiful, both the lyrics and the music. (Despite what David29 thinks. What would he know, anyway?)

The next morning, I got up and ‘Fallen’ was playing in my head. I started making my coffee and then suddenly, I was overcome with tears. I don’t mean gentle little teardrops… no. This was ugly crying, so much so that I needed lots of tissues and I was scared that I’d wake Ryan27 and he’d think something was wrong.

I rang David29 a couple of hours later and told him. He laughed.

“I wanted kd lang because I wanted you to cry!” he said.

“As if I’m going to cry in front of an audience!” I said. “And anyway, I did cry. It was just a day early.”

“Now how can I make you cry tomorrow?” he said. “What’s the name of the book you’re reading? Just before we walk down the aisle, I’ll spoil the ending for you!!”

I laughed. “They’ll all wonder why I’m slapping you!”

We had an absolute jewel of a day. In a week full of cold and rain, Friday was bright and sunny – perfect wedding weather.

Blogless Helen snapped this stunner of a photo!

David29 when Izzy and her parents were coming down the aisle. They had a friend of theirs singing ‘La Vie en Rose.’

Sealing the deal.

Making their escape.

Look at those faces now that it was all done and dusted! Now they could relax and have fun.

My sister Kate took this selfie. It’s rare that I get a good photo of myself, so she must be an extremely gifted photographer.

While the wedding party were off getting photos, we had afternoon tea at a little hall next to the church, and then our family went off to the pub, where Mum distinguished herself by accidentally spilling a glass of champagne all over my friend Ian. Of course, it had to be the man with the most expensive suit in the whole place! As we agreed later on, at least it wasn’t a shiraz!

I took a few photos at the reception before all the guests arrived, then I put my phone away for the evening. I figured that the photographer would capture the rest of the night.

I was the one to deliver the first speech of the night. Naturally, I waited to write it until the day before the wedding. After all, what could possibly go wrong?

When he was little, David29 wore a Dorothy the Dinosaur hat every minute of every day for 2.5 years. He even slept in it. He wore that hat until it literally fell apart. I used that as the motif for the speech, initially saying that when David29 decides that he loves something, he really hangs onto it.

After a few other anecdotes, I circled back to the hat, finishing up the speech by saying that I wanted to give an extra level onto all the wishes of long life, love and happiness we all have for them.

“May you both treat each other like a Dorothy the Dinosaur hat – cherish and hold each other until you grow old and fades, your teeth start to fall out and you’re coming apart at the seams!”

Izzy’s parents gave a very loving and sentimental speech. I could not be happier with the way that they’ve embraced my son and brought him into their family – though Izzy’s Dad took a few months to warm up to his precious daughter’s boyfriend!

She’s the oldest child. We always have it tougher than the younger ones.

They chose the dance from the Disney classic ‘Sleeping Beauty’ as their first dance together. Izzy grew up dreaming of the day she would dance like a princess, and she got her wish.

The funny thing was that as they were dancing, the music cut out for 10 seconds or so. They kept on moving until the music came back, like true professionals. I had my friend, Blogless Megan from work, sitting with me. She’s the head of Music and has taught all of my boys. David29 said to her later, “I could hear your voice in my head… ‘Just keep on performing!!!”… and you were sitting right there! I had to keep going!”

This was a terrific wedding. The food was good, the music was good, the weather was perfect, the happy couple was over the moon and we all danced, sang and had a damned good time. We’ve all been to weddings where everyone but the couple themselves have known that this marriage is a gamble, but these two? They are so in love and have already been tested, what with Izzy’s cancer diagnosis, and with living together under a parental roof for 3 years since the covid lockdowns began. (Honestly, Izzy’s parents are saints!) When he looks at her, David29 gets a look on his face that I never see him give when he looks at anyone else. They are truly made for each other.

I looked over the room at one stage during the night and wished that I could go back in time, just for 5 minutes, and tell that terrified mother of a teenager battling with the worst depression, that he was going to be alright and that we were dancing at his wedding. It would have made life so much easier back then if I could have known this…

I know I call myself ‘Fortunate Frogdancer’, but I’m truly the luckiest woman alive.

(Mum at the church.)

The next day David29 came over to drop off a few things and to have a long chat about the wedding. He was at mine for nearly an hour and we had a wonderful chat. Ryan27 was out at a Smash Tourney and Izzy was at her Mum’s place sorting through the wishing well gifts, so it was just the two of us. And the dogs. I’m pretty sure I’ll cherish this talk with my boy forever.

As I write this, they’re over in New Zealand on their honeymoon. I gave them a week with my timeshare points and they chose Puka Park on the tip of the North Island. It’s a secluded hideaway that looks to be perfect for a couple lost in love. It’s the first time Izzy’s been overseas.

Anyway, this wedding sets the bar high for any of my kids who might choose to get married after them.

One down… three to go!

Dad joke of the day: (This one seemed appropriate)

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