Burning Desire For FIRE

Financially Independent, Retired Early(ish) at 57.

Wednesday W’s #102.

What’s top of my mind: My Aged Care.

It’s come to that time when my parents need me to fill out the reams of paperwork to get them onto the My Aged Care system. Up until now, they’ve been using their local council for services.

Tomorrow I’m going over there again to spend another day photocopying statements, chasing up forms and generally wanting to be anywhere else but there.

It’d be nice if beaurocracies made their paperwork more streamlined. Just saying.

Where I’m going: To see Evan27 and Jenna’s shows!

Yes, the kids are back at the Comedy Festival again.

Evan27 is performing HERE.

Jenna is performing HERE.

Tom31’s girlfriend thought it’d be nice to get the whole family together to see the shows, so there’ll be a family excursion on Saturday.

Where I’ve been: to see ‘Wicked.’

My sister-in-law has never been to the Theatre, which was shocking to me. I had to fix this sad state of affairs, so I chose a big, rousing musical to pop her theatre cherry. Turns out that she’s a massive ‘Wizard of Oz’ fan, so I accidentally chose the best possible show for her!

She loved it.

Job done. 🙂

What I’m reading: ‘The Best Way to Bury Your Husband, by Alexia Casale

I picked this one up from the library yesterday.

What I’m watching: The White Lotus 2.

I finished this last night and I absolutely loved it. I watched season 1 a while ago and then got sidetracked, but I was back on board for the last few nights.

It’s on Binge, for those who are in Australia.

What I’m listening to: Jeffrey snoring.

It’s the soundtrack of my life when I’m home.

What I’m eating: Green beans from the garden.

In a last desperate sput by Mother Nature, the beans are making a last-ditch effort to produce food before I pull them all up.

I have 4 weeks before I go to Canada and Alaska. Let’s see who gives up first.

What I’m planning: a trip to Kenya, Tanzania and ZANZIBAR.

Doesn’t the last country on that list make your toenails tickle with anticipation of the exotic unknown? I always knew that I wanted to go on a safari in Africa again – 5 days back in 2014 wasn’t long enough – but Zanzibar?!?

Yep. They had me at Zanzibar…

April next year in case anyone is keeping track. It seems that 2025 is going to be the year when I’m away more often than I’m home!

Who deserves a thumbs-up: All those who said that retirement is terrific.

They weren’t steering me wrong.

What has made me smile: Georgia 29 got her license!

Better late than never!

Dad joke of the day:

Little Adventures #21: March 2024 – THE SKYDIVE.

It’s not often that I get excited when I hit a goal. Usually, I’m already focusing on the next one. Stupid, I know. But this one was a little different. It was a long time coming.

I first heard about skydiving when I was a kid. Instantly, I knew that one day, I’d do it. Heights don’t particularly bother me, and I’ve always had a bit of a thirst for the unknown. Jumping out of a plane was a big tick off my list of Things To Do.

Then, of course, life happened. I had to put my individual goals to the side to focus on bringing up my children and giving them the best start in life I could. Being a single parent to 4 kids is a busy life.

(To be fair, I sneaked in a little bit of travel, with the whole family going to Bali and Thailand, and David15 and I having a quickk junket to Singapore the first Christmas he didn’t stay with the kids’ father. I sent the music kids to the US when they were in secondary school, as well as the trips the school made to The Red Centre and Tassie. I wanted the travel bug to get them.)

Now – it’s finally MY TIME.

I achieved Financial Independence three years ago and retired. I have no ties other than the dogs, as my kids are all independent. I’m so lucky that Georgia29 still lives at home and is likely to stay here for the next 3 years while she finishes her course.

I have 3 years to travel. Georgia29 looks after the dogs and the garden when I’m gone, which saves me thousands of dollars. I’m free to explore.

But not every goal is travel, unless you count jumping from a plane and plummeting to Earth as travel. I asked the kids to club together for my birthday and get me something I really want. Something that wouldn’t clutter up the place and just be forgotten.

I wanted to skydive for my 60th.

Here I am with all the gear on. We’d just finished watching a safety video and I had to race to take my rings off and put them in the locker with my bag. These rings are precious to me… I bought the emerald in Phuket and the sapphires were a 21st present from my parents. Imagine if they whipped off and fell away during the dive? I’d be crying, “Nooooooo!”

People were asking if I was nervous. I can honestly say that there wasn’t an ounce of nervousness in me. I was calm. I was going to do this and I knew I’d enjoy it. I wasn’t excited or jumping around. I was still and certain. I didn’t start to get a bubble of excitement in my stomach until we were driving into the airport.

We drove from Elwood to Moorabbin airport. I’ve driven past here probably thousands of times and never been inside before. We all got into an impossibly small plane and the instructors strapped themselves to us. There were 7 of us doing the jump.

Then up we flew. Up, up, past the clouds and over the top. We were high. Melbourne and the bay were stretched out below us. Then, the instructor closest to the door swung it open, nodded to his passenger and then they almost rolled out the door.

The other couples closest to the door shuffled along and Out! Out! Out!

It was so quick. They definitely don’t give people time to chicken out.

The plane swung around to regain its position. Then it was our turn. I smiled and shuffled toward the open door. I grabbed hold of the loops in front of the harness, as we were told to do.

Then we were out.

And flying.

I couldn’t keep the goofy grin from my face while we were freefalling.

We had around a minute of freefall.

That minute lasted a long time. It was beautiful up there.

The was a peace and serenity that I can’t describe. The wind was whipping past us, but along with the sound of the wind was a high note, just at the edge of my hearing.

The city and the bay were below and there we were, arms outstretched and flying so free. It was only a minute but I feel that it changed something inside me. There’s a pocket of peace and happiness in me that wasn’t there before.

Then there was a tap on my shoulder to tell me to grasp the loops at the front again. Then with a whoosh, we went upwards as the parachute was opened.

The instructor operated the parachute so we whirled and swooped, allowing us to see everything as we slowly descended.

Down there, my friend Alice from work was in her backyard filming one of us coming down. Of course, we’re convinced it was me that she caught!

I was so happy up there. It’s the best feeling.

Then, sadly, we were heading into land on Elwood foreshore. Look at my expression. I wanted it to last for longer, even though it lasted far longer than I expected.

I’ll carry this experience in a small part of me forever.

Look at me with my feet held firmly out. We’re told to land on our bum, and not to lower our ankles or they could be broken. I’m going to Canada and Alaska in 6 weeks. No way I was going to risk ruining that trip!

Deana from England gave me some pink socks and I told her they’d be jumping out of a plane today. Here they are, gracefully making their way back to earth.

The landing.

Hair bedraggled from the wind but so happy – there I was. I’m not sure I have a Bucket List, but if I do, this was one important item ticked off.

If I hadn’t achieved Financial Independence, I would’ve been in a classroom, looking out of the window when the kids were working and dreaming of where else I could be. Most days of my retirement are mundane and contented, just ambling along doing the day-to-day tasks that I need or want to get done. Just days of simple little things.

And then there are days like this.

Dad joke of the day:

Wednesday W’s #101

What’s top of my mind: Jeffrey.

It can’t be comfortable being balanced along the back of the couch as he is, but Jeff’s never happy unless he can see me. I’m perched up at the kitchen bench on a stool, typing away, so there’s no way he can velcro himself to my side, which is his preferred position.

But up on the couch, he can gaze at me until he drifts off to sleep. He’s snoring now.

I absolutely love going travelling, but I also love it when I’m home. These three little woofs are everything.

We don’t deserve dogs.

Where I’m going: Mum and Dad’s place.

It’s Dad’s 86th birthday on Sunday, so my sister Kate, her husband and I are going over there for lunch. We’ll go to a nearby park and have a little barbeque.

Where I’ve been: Skydiving!

This is a Little Adventure that I’ll never forget. A post about this will be coming soon.

What I’m reading: ‘Wifedom’ by Anna Funder

I borrowed this from the library a while ago, along with about 7 other books. Then I went to Kangaroo Island, so I was out and about instead of reading. ‘Wifedom’ had to go back to the library, unread, so I placed another HOLD on it as soon as I got home. It took 2 months to swing back to me.

It’s time to tackle this novel. It’s about George Orwell’s first wife. I read about their relationship in another book I read about the Orwells – The Last Man in Europe – and she sounded fascinating.

What I’m watching: The White Lotus season 2.

Now that Australian Survivor has finished, my evenings are now free to explore other seasons of shows I love. I finished all ‘The Walking Dead’ spinoffs, so now it’s time for more elevated viewing.

I’m only a couple of eps in, but I’m enjoying it. It’s on Binge, by the way.

What I’m listening to: a mix of windchimes and snoring.

There’s a very light breeze today, so every now and then I’ll hear a sound from my lovely Kangaroo Island windchimes. Jeffrey is loudly enjoying a nap on the couch, as you know.

What I’m eating: nothing exciting.

However, when I’m able to include ingredients from my garden, I get such a kick out of it.

The photo is for veggies for a bolognese. Our garlic, chilli, celery, zucchini and spinach were in it. Nice!

What I’m planning: nothing in particular.

After the huge flurry of booking 5 trips away, I’ve decided that I should stop booking things for a while and just start to enjoy the anticipation.

Then yesterday I remembered that I’d forgotten to book my flights for The Ghan trip I’m doing in September for my birthday. Oops! Imagine the panic if I hadn’t remembered? I’d be hitch-hiking my way from Melbourne to Adelaide and Darwin to Melbourne. No one who has seen ‘Wolf Creek’ wants to be on their own out in the middle of nowhere…

Funnily enough, I’ve never booked flights myself before. So yesterday afternoon, after I came back from taking Mum to the pool and then having lunch, I bravely clicked onto Webjet. I saw which flights were available, then went onto the actual airlines’ websites to book the flights.

I have to be honest and say that it was a bit of a thrill to click “Darwin.” It sounds incredible that in a few months I’ll be casually wheeling my carry-on through the airport up there. So exotic…

Who deserves a ‘Thumbs-up’: Blogless Sandy.

She’s the one who told me how to book the flights. There would’ve been a lot more googling if she hadn’t told me what to do.

What has made me smile: Easter Monday.

I’m having most of the kids here for lunch and to watch the video of me skydiving. Tom31 and Sophie are in the country seeing her family for Easter, so they’ll not be here, but everyone else is coming.

The plan is to fire up the pizza oven and Georgia29 will make pizzas for everyone. Too easy!

I love having my family all around. They’re such nice people.

Dad joke of the day:

Wednesday W’s #100!!!

I told the dogs that David30 was coming for dinner. Poppy and Scout immediately went to wait for him to arrive.

Obviously, Jeffrey didn’t have the foggiest idea of what I was saying.

What’s top of my mind: I’ve hit triple digits with this series!

I’m not going to lie… I stole the idea for this weekly series from Spo, who’s been doing this forever. Considering that I don’t write these posts when I’m traveling, it seems that I’ve also been writing these forever. I think these entries give a nice look at what retirement life is like, which I know I was always interested in while I was slogging away at work.

I also like the way that it keeps me accountable. “Oh! It’s Wednesday AGAIN. Better write a post!”

Where I’m going: out for a walk with the dogs.

The Little Woofs are giving me ‘that look.’ You know the one I mean.

Where I’ve been: to lunch with Mum.

Week 2 of my 3-week stint of taking Mum to the hydrotherapy pool. While she was in the pool this week, I went for a walk instead of staying in the muggy humidity. I ended up walking to the school and back. I didn’t go in because I knew it was parent/teacher day so most of my friends would be working from home.

But I was texting a fellow Survivor fan from school last night before the Grand Finale and we’ve arranged to have a quick catch-up next Tuesday. By the time I walk there and back, I’ll have about 10 minutes to spare to have a chat. It’ll be fun!

What I’m reading: Nothing.

I know – unprecedented, right?

I’ve just finished an audiobook, but it was so awful that I’m not going to bring it up in polite conversation. It was a 16-hour listen that could easily have been halved.

What I’m watching: a new chart I’ve drawn up.

I have my No Spend Days chart, my Earn My Rates Back chart and now I have a new one. I’m still trialling it, but so far it looks good.

More on this later.

What I’m listening to: I’m back to podcasts.

In my everlasting whirl of audiobook to podcasts to audiobook, I’m back to my pods. Such a relief after the last book.

What I’m eating: pasta with fresh tomato sauce from the garden.

The sauce also has our own garlic, chilli, green leaves, basil and oregano as well as tomatoes.

Not bad.

What I’m planning: Travel. (Of course.)

I’m still thinking about those Northern Lights.

And about a dozen other places. Ah well, it’s fun to dream.

Who deserves a ‘thumbs-up’: Me.

For making it to 100 Wednesday W’s. When I’m on a good thing, I stick to it!

What has made me smile: Look at this!

This is what every quilter lives for! Tom31 wanted me to make a baby gift for one of his best mates. He was expecting a baby girl. This is the quilt I made. I’m so glad little Ava adores it.

Dad joke of the day:

Little Adventure #20: March 2024 – The Walking Group.

I have a friend affectionately known as ‘Blogless Sandy.’ She and her husband retired roughly the same time I did, and 3 years ago she did an interview for this blog when they were 2 years in.

Blogless Sandy prefers a more structured retirement timetable than I do. Mondays she walks large dogs for a shelter, she has embraced yoga in a big way, she looks after grandchildren a few times a week, and on Thursdays she has a walking group.

I decided to try it out. I’m motivated to get fit, especially after I heard about the hike that I’m going to be doing in Kings Canyon, which begins with a set of 400 steps known affectionately as ‘Heart Attack Hill.’

These walks are held every Thursday by the Peninsula branch of U3A. This organisation is run by and for retired people. Once you join a branch, you have access to a huge range of classes and activities. Mum and Dad were members of different U3A branches for years. Mum did all of her art, painting and craft things, while Dad learned about all sorts of things, ranging from astronomy to all sorts of different histories, world events and I don’t know what else. They loved it!

Personally, I feel a bit weird joining up. I’m not OLD! Plus I used to do the cleaning for the Mordialloc U3A after every term. (This link is only a month after I started the frogblog. It was interesting going down memory lane, when I was living with Evan11 etc.)

Anyway, this walk was classed as an easy one. It was in Mt Martha, and we wended our way around some housing developments and bushland, with only two hills to deal with.

It was nice. There were 28 people all up on the walk, and everyone was nattering to friends and enjoying the outlooks.

When I was getting dressed to go, I realised that this was the first time I’d worn these runners since London last year. It was also the first time I’d worn ‘proper’ shoes and socks since I had the mole cut from my ankle in January. This will be important info soon…

The walk itself was 8 km.

YES! I WALKED 8 KMS. Amazing.

This shot was taken at an outlook over what is usually a lake. I have no idea what sort of bird this is.

I’ve decided to join the Peninsula U3A branch for a year, for a few reasons.

First of all, it’ll be nice to see Sandy every week and do an activity that’ll make me fitter.

I also want to know more about what’s around the Mornington Peninsula. I’ve lived here at the gateway to the peninsula for 8 years and I’m still clueless about what’s pretty much on my doorstep. When my overseas friends come to stay, I want to be able to take them to beautiful places.

Finally – it might be ok to have some structure in my retirement weeks. If I know that I have to switch the alarm on every Thursday morning (ugh) and I know I’ll be walking for 3 hours or so, THAT’S Thursday taken care of.

The rest of my time can be fluid.

Just the way I like it.

Afterwards, we all sat at a cafĂ©, where they drank coffee and I drank water from my trusty Antarctica Pee Bottle. I was wanting to be a little bit frugal because of where I was going next…

Mum’s had 3 falls since October, all at home. My sister and I decided that she needs an indoor walker. One light and manoeuverable enough to allow her to move easily around the house and not fall over.

I got her into the car before I told her where and why we were going. She wasn’t all that happy, because I think she doesn’t see herself as the sort of person who needs access to a walker all the time. It’s funny how people see themselves sometimes, isn’t it?

Long story short, she test-drove some walkers and there was only one that she could manage to put the brake on with her arthritic hands. So the choice ended up being easy. My sister’s friend works there so we got 15% off, which was lovely. I bought it, whacked it in the back of the car and delivered Mum and her new steed home.

To be honest, I was expecting a little pushback from Dad, but he was very thankful that I’d bought it. Mum began grumbling a little, but he silenced her by saying, “I would’ve thought you were getting a little tired of lying on the floor, Jill!”

Working for Financial Independence for all those years, I never once thought of how nice it would be to do such a simple thing – buying a walker for Mum. It was just under $400, so it wasn’t going to move the needle at all for me. Yet I think it’ll make a huge difference to her.

As I’m learning how to live a life free from day-to-day money concerns, I’m finding that to be generous is a wonderful thing. I’ve given myself the ability to do this, not only with money but also with my time.

So Thursday was all about getting people walking.

I’m writing this on Saturday. I had to go to the doctor today to get antibiotics as the shoe I was wearing rubbed on the place where I had a mole removed in January. It hurts. Ironic that when I finally decide to look after myself and get a bit fitter, I’m probably going to have to miss the next walk. All because I was looking after myself by getting my moles mapped.

Ah well.

Wednesday W’s #99.

What’s top of my mind: Nothing much.

I’m in a really good place at the moment. Life is serene and contented.

Quite happy to enjoy the peace and quiet, frankly.

Where I’m going: To the backyard.

I have an old friend who I haven’t seen to 20 years, and she’s coming to dinner on Saturday night. Got to make the garden look pretty!

Where I’ve been: to the hydrotherapy pool with Mum.

My sister Kate usually takes Mum to the pool every Tuesday but I’m on duty for the next 3 weeks, while Kte and her husband go to Sri Lanka on a Trip-A-Deal 2 for 1 holiday. I’m interested to hear about their experience with this company when they get back. This company has lots of low-cost tours… tempting!

After an hour spent watching Mum bob around in the pool doing her exercises, we went out to a cafĂ© for lunch and a catch-up without Dad hearing eery word we say. Not that we were saying anything he wouldn’t want to hear, but sometimes it’s nice to just be one-on-one.

What I’m reading: Good With Money by Emma Edwards.

Tom31 has a friend from high school, who is married to the author of this book. Naturally, when I heard about it, I got the library to buy a copy. It sounds like a good thing to spread the knowledge and love around to as many people who need it. I did the same with Strong Money Australia’s book too.

I quickly came to the realisation that I’m not the target Demographic for Edwards’ book. Even in my teems and twenties, I still had a handle on my money, though I was always better when I had a definite savings goal in mind. This book is for people who want to learn how to handle their money with intentionality.

Well, when I say ‘people’, I mean young women. So if you’re a cranky old man who simply wants people to get off your lawn, then this book isn’t for you. But if you know someone in the target group, there are a lot of good exercises to enable someone to understand why they spend the way they do, then strategies to start digging themselves out of the hole. I’m only halfway through.

What I’m watching: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…

… Survivor Australia is SO much better than the US version. The gameplay is next-world level. Only one more week to go, sadly.

What I’m listening to: the dishwasher.

One of the good things about solar panels is that you can run all the machines like dishwashers, washing machines etc during the day when they’ll be running on free power.

What I’m eating: Fresh tomato and feta pasta.

With basil, oregano, tomatoes and garlic from the garden. Yum!

What I’m planning: When to see the Northern Lights.

Working out which destinations are bucket list ones for me.

Who deserves a ‘thumbs-up’: The people who work at the hydrotherapy pool.

So hot and stuffy!

The pool, not the people.

What has made me smile: Seeing that ‘Life After Life’ is on ABC Freeview.

Life After Life is one of the best books I’ve ever read. And now it’s a BBC series.

My life keeps getting better and better.

Dad joke of the day:

Little Adventures #19: March 2024 – The Gardens of Ripponlea.

Although I grew up in a suburb not too far away from Ripponlea, I’ve never been there. I know…!

The National Trust runs it, and as I’m a member because of my England/Ireland trip, I decided to take advantage of the free entry and get myself over there. It was a beautiful sunny morning and I wanted to get out.

Here’s the information page. It’s worth a quick read as it gives the history of the house. It’s worth it to see how many servants (and children) the family had!

Parking was as hellish as I feared it would be. I was only able to grab a 1 hour park, so I figured I’d just have a wander through some of the gardens, (there are 14 acres, apparently), and I’d do a tour of the house another time.

After going through the gatehouse, triumphantly waving my National Trust card at the woman behind the counter, I set off along the gravel driveway towards the house.

It’s lined by Narnia lamp posts!

After what seemed like a fair trudge, I got to the house. I could just imagine horses and carriages turning in front of the house, and ladies with elegant long dresses stepping out.

Here’s the front entrance. Ornate, isn’t it? I got closer to look at the statues on either side of the door and look!

The one on the right is reading a book. I definitely have to come back on another day and inspect this house.

Looks like there’s a conservatory tacked onto the side of the house.

When viewed from the side, it’s disappointingly small.

I walked around the back of the house, had a quick chat with a gardener, who said, “The dahlia patch is in fine bloom.”

I suppose it was. But gee – all of that staking of the flowers!

They’re undeniably pretty, but too much upkeep for me.

Behind the dahlias, I saw one of the things I was keen to see – the fernery. Alice, one of my friends from work, was proposed to here a few years ago.

I set off towards it, though my hopes of getting a proposal in there were very low.

Then, just before I left the back of the house, I turned around to see this:

Simple, but very pretty. Imagine living here and seeing this out of the window every day?

The fernery was a place where I could have stayed longer. It was lovely.

It has lots of winding paths, with the lush green of the ferns and other plants all around. I chose the left path and set off.

This massive bird’s nest fern made me feel guilty about the poor little one that I’ve got at home. I planted it under a tree fern, thinking it’d get enough shade, but it’s struggling. This one looks really happy.

The reason for all the lush greenery is that they’ve got a little creek running through the place. This is where there’s a bridge to let the water run under the path.

Clever.

The roof is open. It’s just slats, which I wouldn’t have thought would give enough shade, especially in summer.

But the ferns were proving me wrong.

After a look at the time on my phone, I decided to exit and found myself near the lake. There were lots of happy ducks, along with some VERY happy arum lilies. Again, I thought guiltily about the patch of arums I have at home.

I made a mental note to give them water more often.

Pretty, isn’t it? I waited for two groups of people to finish taking photos of themselves on the bridge.

Huh. Such a touristy thing to do!

You’d never see ME doing any such thing in my home town!

Anyway, here’s what I was looking at.

The ducks were busily feeding.

I absolutely love it when they duck-dive!

Look at his little legs all splayed out.

I walked to the left of the lake, towards a lookout tower I could see.

I have a goal to do more exercise every day, before I get to ‘Heart Attack Hill’ on the Ghan tour I’m doing in September. This was it for today.

Getting closer!

There we go! The stairs!

I thought of all the stairs I had to climb in Blarney Castle, back when I was in Ireland. Compared to that, this was a piece of cake!

It was a nice view, up among the trees.

I also saw some train tracks. I didn’t realise that the train was so close here. Maybe next time I could come by train – using my Senior’s card = cheap – and stay here for as long as I want?

With another glance at the time, I knew I had to get back to the car.

The walk back to the gatehouse reminded me of all the walks I’ve done in stately gardens in England with Scott, Deana and Kathleen.

It easily equals them. And to think I grew up only a few suburbs away!

I strolled past the lake.

I saw an enormous aspidistra.

Actually, one of these would look great in the Man Cave. I must track one down.

If you peer between the trees you can see the fence.

I’m nearly there.

And here it is. There’s a small nursery behind here, along with a little cafĂ©.

I bought myself a little rubber plant as a souvenir and I got 10% off for being a National Trust member.

I saved a whole dollar on that plant. Bargain.

What with England and now here, I’ve more than made up the purchase price of the membership. I’ll be renewing next year.

I thoroughly enjoyed my gallop around Ripponlea. I’ll be coming back one day to spend longer here. Next time, I’ll see the interior of the house.

Dad joke of the day:

Wednesday W’s #98

What’s top of my mind: How much I love my floorboards.

Well, last night made me glad yet again for my wooden floors. Poppy, pictured on the left in happier times, was walking around and around the room at 4 AM. Then I smelt something BAAAD, I leaped up and put her out. The poor girl had been trying to hold in diarrhoea… well, let’s just say that I was reminded of a fire hose when she got out onto the grass. She spent the rest of the night in the ensuite with a dog rug, but like MacBeth, my sleep was murdered for the rest of the night.

The clean-up on floorboards of the bit she couldn’t hold in wasn’t pleasant, but on carpet? I don’t even want to imagine.

She’s not in great spirits this morning, poor love. It’s hard when they can’t speak to tell you what’s wrong.

Where I’m going: I booked another holiday. Oops.

I have a timeshare that I bought back in 2006 that, until now, I’ve never used. It uses points and has various properties the timeshare owns that I can stay in, plus access to lots more. This is how I stayed at Kangaroo Island and how I was able to give David30 and Izzy a week’s stay in a very swish place in New Zealand for a week.

I was musing that I get back from the Ghan trip in the middle of September but then I didn’t have anything booked until February next year. That’s a big gap. I wanted another holiday but I didn’t want to spend any more money.

I decided to jump onto the Accor Vacation Club website to see if there was anything interesting available in Nov/Dec.

Turns out that there’s a place in Lake Crackenback (near Thredbo in the Snowy Mountains) that people have been raving about for years and others whinge that they can never get a spot. There was a 1BR available for a week.

I’ve never been to this part of the world. My geography was a little hazy about where it was exactly. Turns out it’s only a 6-hour drive from my place!

The real surprise was when, after I locked it in, I decided to go on the website to see how much I’d be paying if I was just Patricia Public booking from the website.

$2,300,

omg.

My club fees for the year are $1,200. It was exxy to buy into the club at the time, but I think Past Frogdancer did Present/Future Frogdancer a solid. I’m going to have a week of quiet contemplation among the gumtress, kangaroos and koalas. It’s right near Mt Kosciuszko, (not going to lie… I copied and pasted that name!), which for overseas readers is Australia’s highest mountain, rising to a dizzying height of 2,228m/ 7,310 ft tall. 

Now you know why I was so very impressed by Switzerland.

Where I’ve been: in the backyard.

It’s getting to the stage when the veggie garden is beginning to wind down from the summer. I’ve started ‘chop and dropping’ spent plants and loading up some of the garden beds with mushroom compost and mulch for the winter. I need to get to Bunnings to buy some more animal manure to really beef up things.

Since I’ll be gone for 5 weeks in May/June, I’m not going to have a winter veggie garden. Poor Georgia29 will have enough to cope with by looking after the little woofs, commuting to uni and getting home in the dark without worrying about veggies. Watering the potplants will probably be enough to send her over the edge!

What I’m reading: the latest Robert Galbraith novel.

I bloody love these books. When I heard that the new one was out, I immediately raced to put a hold on it at the library. I was something like number 80 in the queue.

I’m a patient woman. I knew my time in the sun would come.

It’s a 900-page whopper! I’m nearly finished and I’m loving it.

What I’m watching: Sleeping dogs.

I’ll let them lie…

What I’m listening to: the dishwasher.

We’re so lucky to live in these times, aren’t we?

What I’m eating: Soup and home-made bread rolls.

On Monday Blogless Sandy came around after her volunteer stint of walking dogs at the nearby shelter. I made bread rolls, and chicken and veggie soup from the carcass of a roast chook Georgia and I had been chomping our way through.

This is such a delicious thing to make. It’s different every time because it’s dependent on which veggies you have in the garden and fridge, but it’s the sort of food that’s delicious and at the same time you can FEEL it doing you good.

There was a bowl left over. Lunch for me!

What I’m planning: maybe Hawaii?

Megan is thinking that we might make a stopover to Hawaii on the way home from Alaska. This place has never been on my bucket list, but if it isn’t too expensive we might do it. She wants to be somewhere warm for her birthday.

Has anyone been? I’m not a beach person so is there anything else to do but sit and look at palm trees?

Who deserves a ‘thumbs-up’:

The guy we met at the beach yesterday who knew what breed Scout is and didn’t think she was a mongrel cross-breed.

What has made me smile: Seeing zucchinis that are growing and not dying.

It’s ridiculous. Who would ever think that I’d be glad to see zucchinis growing at this time of year? Normally you can’t give them away! This year we’ve had the grand total of 1 zucchini slice from our own garden. Looks like, if we’re lucky, I’ll be able to change that total to 2.

Dad joke of the day:

Wednesday W’s #97

What’s top of my mind: Nothing.

Nothing is at the top of my mind.

I’m just chillin’, baby.

Where I’m going: out to lunch with Izzy.

When I picked up my reading glasses from Specsavers, I had lunch with Izzy while I was there. It occurred to my brilliant brain that this might be a fun thing to do every now and then, so in a couple of hours I’ll be heading off to where she works.

Sushi and a chat on a Wednesday lunchtime with my daughter-in-law. Sounds nice, doesn’t it?

Where I’ve been: in the backyard shaving my dogs.

No, that’s NOT a euphemism.

It’s been a weird old summer so far, but now the hot weather is here and the cavaliers needed to get their spay/neuter coats off. Poppy, in particular, was beginning to look like an explosion.

My sister isn’t doing this for me anymore, which is fair enough as she intends to let her new dog grow his coat. So it was up to Georgia and me to do the deed.

The little woofs were surprisingly good. It was all done and dusted in about an hour which coincidentally was around the same time that Scout was preparing to DIE from jealousy at all the attention the others were getting.

The photo is Poppy, now looking sleek and lithe. It’s amazing how much dog is NOT under all that fur.

What I’m reading: Did I Ever Tell You This?’ by Sam Neill.

I’ve always loved Sam Neill, so his memoir was an absolute ‘must-read’ for me. I enjoyed it – particularly two stories. One about Judy Davis (where NO punches are pulled) and the other about James Mason.

Some people have the most incredible lives.

What I’m watching: Australian Survivor.

We just passed Day 26, which was Merge. On US Survivor, that’s when the show ends. And the poor things think that they’re doing it tough!

What I’m listening to: Nothing.

Most days I keep the house really quiet. No music, no podcasts; just natural sounds. I think it’s a reaction to being in a large, noisy school for so long.

What I’m eating: Wraps.

It’s supposed to be 37C today, so I’m thinking that salad wraps will be just the ticket for dinner tonight. Georgia has their first on-campus day at Uni today, so I think they’ll appreciate that too.

Plus sushi for lunch!

What I’m planning: Travel Insurance.

Today is a ‘Spend’ day, because sushi, so I’ll be buying my travel insurance for the Ghan adventure today. I should have done it on the day I booked it, but I can’t help that now!

Who deserves a thumbs-up: My cousin.

My aunt on my Dad’s side has two children, but they both live in the States. She, however, moved back here when her marriage broke up.

She lives near my cousin R, (also on my Dad’s side) who, over the years as my aunt has grown increasingly frail, has taken our aunt under her wing and kept and eye on her.

My cousin is a very compassionate person. She looked after her mother’s husband for years after her Mum died, and is now doing the same thing for my aunt. There are lots of decisions and day-to-day things that simply can’t be attended to from the other side of the world when it comes to the care of an elderly person.

My US cousins are very lucky that R is around.

What has made me smile: The tomatoes are finally coming to an end.

Yes, I know that I was ecstatic to have tomatoes to harvest after 3 years of nothing, but my freezer is full. I can’t take much more!!!

Dad joke of the day:

Wednesday W’s #96.

What’s top of my mind: How lucky I am.

Yesterday in the morning I had to plug my phone in because it had run flat without me noticing. When I had some juice in it, I realised I’d missed two phone calls from my doctor about my recent submission of the bowel cancer test that our government sends out FOR FREE for people over 50 to try and pick up this disease before it goes too far.

I’m glad I live in Australia.

I had a sister-in-law, when I was married, who died of this when she was 36. I remember visiting her in hospital 2 weesk before she died. I was pregnant with Ryan then and she was the only person I told the gender to. I initially said, “I’m not telling anyone” and she replied, “I’ll probably be dead when the baby’s born. I’d love to know if it’s a boy or a girl.” She was correct. I’m keen not to go down the same path.

After my phone was charged, the receptionist from the medical clinic rang, ascertained my details and said that the doctor was “working from home today but he’ll be ringing you in a few minutes.”

Now I’m no hypochondriac, but in my book, no doctor calls unless they have bad news. So many calls in the space of 30 minutes? Yikes.

I’ve got trips I’ve booked. I’ve paid upfront for my Ghan trip to save $1,500. I’m bloody going on that trip, even if I have to drag a colostomy bag with me.

Anyway, the doctor rang and said that everything was fine. The results came back as normal.

oof. Couldn’t he have told me that in a text or email?

Anyway, good to know that my body’s still behaving itself. Still, it was a useful lesson on how everything turns on a dime. My plans could be upended at any time. Still, it hasn’t happened yet, so I’m happy.

Where I’m going: To the US consulate.

Yes, because I’ve been to a Naughty Country I have to apply for a visa and have an interview. I was going to not say anything, but then the thought of being turned back at Anchorage, of all places, and being sent home while Megan merrily goes on with the cruise was too much.

The absolute dog’s breakfast of a website meant that it took me HOURS to finally fill in all the paperwork, pay for my visa and book an appointment. It (almost) made me regret my trip to North Korea.

Almost.

Where I’ve been: to Spotlight.

Ryan29 gave me a $50 voucher for Spotlight and today I saw that they have 50% off for precut fabric bundles for quilters.

Ok, so I may have spent a bit over $50… well, quite a bit more. But I’m not looking at this as a failure to stay within a budget. It’s more like a canny action to take advantage of a really good bargain.

Now all I have to do is get into the sewing room to start using it.

What I’m reading: The Last Man in Europe – Glover.

Wow. This is about George Orwell’s fight to complete ‘Nineteen Eighty Four’ before he dies. I know ‘Nineteen Eighty Four’ very well, as I taught it for years and also had 3 of my children study it and ask me for help. (The youngest one got to read ‘Animal Farm’ instead.)

Glover has done an extraordinary job of bringing Orwell’s life… well… to life. He shows the experiences and influences that Orwell then used in the novel.

It’s bleak, but then his life was pretty much that way. But if you know ‘Nineteen Eighty Four’ then it’s very much worth the read.

What I’m watching: Junk TV.

Australian Survivor – such a GREAT season so far! – and Love is Blind, with a little bit of Ru Paul’s Drag Race thrown in.

Loving every second of it.

What I’m listening to: the purr of the aircon.

It’s finally time to put the air con on. It’s been such a strange summer so far. It’s been great for me, because I hate the heat and actively look for ways to stay out of the sun, but the heat was never going to stay away forever.

Poppy and Jeff were feeling it right from the start of the day, so when Ryan29 and I went out the door to see my parents, we turned it on for them.

I’m typing at the kitchen bench, with two happily sleeping cavaliers at my feet.

I’m noticing changes in them as they’re getting older. They’re now 10 years old. If I was showing them, they’d be in the Veterans class!

What I’m eating: Ugh. I have no idea.

It’s 5 PM and I have to decide what we’re having for dinner.

The eternal question.

What I’m planning: my travels.

I bought a vacuum bag kit to use for Canada if I decide to only take carry-on again. When I go on the Ghan I won’t have any choice. My room is too small for anything other than a carry-on, apparently.

I also bought a set of folding clothes hangers and pegs to use on all my travels. Remember when I was hanging my washing next to an open window on Kangaroo Island and I was scared things might blow away? The pegs will solve that problem.

I’m learning.

Who deserves a thumbs-up: My parents.

Something lovely happened today.

My trans girl has chosen her new name and it’s a throwback to their middle name, which was George. This was after their great-grandfather, (Mum’s Dad), who they remember.

They’ve decided to be called Georgia and to take my surname.

We went to my parents today so that they could take a drive in the car they’re going to use for their driving test in a couple of months. They told my grandparents the name they’d chosen, then when Dad was walking out with us to wave us off, he called out, “See you later, Georgia!”

My parents are in their 80’s. They’ve certainly come a long way since the days of the Marriage Equality referendum, when they were going to vote no.

With my youngest son’s permission, I told them that Evan was bisexual, so they might be blocking him from being able to get married someday to the person he loves. They voted yes.

Since then they’ve had another granddaughter move in with a woman, and now a trans granddaughter. They love the people who are theirs and that’s that.

I’m actually very proud of them.

What has made me smile: How Fortunate Frogdancer always gets what she wants.

It may not be for years, and it’s sometimes in an unexpected way, but when I look back over my life, I always seem to get what I’ve wanted.

A grey cat? Sure! Along comes Maris. (This is one in a long line of tiny things.)

Financial Independence? Thought I’d have to work until pension age but no. Fantastic.

Contentment and happiness? Back in the day, I couldn’t see how that could happen but bingo! Here we are.

One thing I always thought would not be a possibility is to have a daughter. When I was having babies I REALLY wanted a daughter. Why else would I have had 4 kids in 5 years? Instead – boys.

It occurred to me over breakfast this morning that again, Fortunate Frogdancer has got what she wanted. Getting a daughter this way is certainly very unexpected but there you go.

Ha ha. Life’s funny.

Dad joke of the day:

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