Financially Independent, Retired Early(ish) at 57.

Category: Wednesday W’s (Page 1 of 5)

Wednesday W’s #46.

What’s top of my mind: I’m actually going to Antarctica!

You know it’s all becoming real when your pee bottle arrives in the post!

I posted this photo on FB and a friend was a little disturbed, saying she had a purple one of these “but I didn’t know it was a pee bottle!” It’s not, of course, it’s just a wide-mouthed water bottle, but when we’re on the ice we can’t leave a trace of ourselves there when we leave. That means no food, no litter and no… um… wastes. If you know what I mean.

My visa arrived yesterday, thank god. My travel agent rang on Friday and chirpily said, “So do you have your visa?” When I said, no, her voice changed dramatically. I asked her to try calling the Chilean embassy since no one was picking up the phone whenever I tried.

Of course, on the first attempt, she got through, and talked to a lovely woman who said that she couldn’t put it through on Friday because she was working on visas that people needed for the coming weekend. (Can you imagine the STRESS those people would be under???) She promised to look at it on Monday.

However, in the afternoon I came back from collecting my currency and there it was… the instructions for the extra info I needed to provide. Basically, I had to show that I could support myself for the 3 days I’ll be in Chile, so I won’t be a burden on their community.

A screenshot of a bank account, a payment for the visa and the next day my visa was in my inbox. This alone has made going through a travel agent worthwhile. I’m sure I was pushed up the queue – someone on Twitter said that he’s been waiting since the beginning of September for his Chilean visa.

Where I’ve been: to the Money Exchange.

Here I am, hunkering down at home trying to avoid crowds, deciding to pick up my currency in Mornington rather than Southland. I get a text that my money is ready, so I grab my mask, jump in the car and drive to get it. When I walk in, the girl behind the counter says, “Oh sorry. We don’t have your Chilean pesos yet. I shouldn’t have texted you…”

What can I say? I wasn’t impressed but there’s no point in complaining – she can’t magically produce them out of thin air. So 2 days later I made the trip back. Fortunately, I have good podcasts to listen to as I drive!

In the end, I decided to get some Chilean pesos, but I know I can use my debit/credit cards here as well. Even though the exchange rate is much better to get Argentinian pesos when you’re actually in the country, I decided to get some here – I’m arriving in Ushuaia at 10 PM and I have a feeling I’ll just want to pay cash straight up for a taxi to my hotel. I embark on the cruise the next day so I won’t need that much money.

The ship uses Euros so I plumped for them rather than USD. If I have any cash left over (which I NEVER do when I travel) I’m far more likely to be going back to Europe rather than the States,

Though having said that, I DO have to tick off my last continent, so who knows where I’ll visit next year?

Where I’m going: To Mt Martha.

See below.

What I’m reading: some cracking good reads.

The Herd – by Emily Edwards.

“Elizabeth and Bryony are polar opposites, but their unexpected friendship has always worked. They’re the best of friends and godmothers to each other’s daughters – because they trust that the safety of their children is their top priority.

But what if their choice could harm your own child?

Widowland – by C,J Carey.

This is a reimagined history, set in London after Germany won WWII. The author has done a really good job of weaving the details of the people and events of that time into an alternate reality, where in 1953 there is a coronation planned – but for King Edward VIII and Queen Wallis – not Elizabeth II.

It’s very 1984-ish.

I’ve just started Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid – all about an aging tennis star who comes out of retirement to try and defeat the new up-and-coming star on the tennis scene, and I’ve picked up The Murder of Mr Wickham by Claudia Grey.

The happily married Mr. Knightley and Emma are throwing a party at their country estate, bringing together distant relatives and new acquaintances—characters beloved by Jane Austen fans. Definitely not invited is Mr. Wickham, whose latest financial scheme has netted him an even broader array of enemies. As tempers flare and secrets are revealed, it’s clear that everyone would be happier if Mr. Wickham got his comeuppance. Yet they’re all shocked when Wickham turns up murdered—except, of course, for the killer hidden in their midst.  “

As an Austen lover, I thought this might be an enjoyable romp as I’m counting down the days before my trip. Here is the post I wrote after visiting Jane Austen’s house in 2015 in Chawton, Hampshire.

One of the highlights of my life.

What I’m watching: A zombie-fest!

It turns out that I wasn’t trailing behind the rest of ‘The Walking Dead’ fans. The very last episode dropped on Monday, so on Sunday I settled in on the couch and watched 7 episodes to get up to date.

It was emotional to see the last episode. I’ve been watching this show for 12 years. However, there are a few spinoffs planned, so I just might buckle myself in for those.

What I’m listening to: A very emotional and heart-wrenching speech.

Chanelle Dawson is the oldest daughter of Chris and Lynette Dawson. Chris murdered Lynette over 40 years ago and has only now been convicted of his crime. The podcast ‘The Teacher’s Pet’ investigated the crime, while ‘The Teacher’s Trial’ documented the murder case. In this last episode, Chanelle is giving her victim impact statement. It’s absolutely heartbreaking.

What I’m eating: Vegemite.

I know I’m going to miss having the opportunity to eat Vegemite with breakfast. So even though I don’t often eat it, lately I’ve been going nuts with it.

What I’m planning: to get the cavaliers shaved today.

Wow. I wrote about this nearly four years ago. Where does the time go?

Yesterday my sister Kate came around, all masked up, to clipper my dogs. Halfway through Poppy’s coat, the clippers died. She’s left with one short ear, one skinny leg, a short back and long hair everywhere else.

Fortunately, we discovered a clipper shop just 10 minutes away. She left to go and see our parents and I went to get the blades sharpened. I’m going to her place later today to finish the job. All masked up, of course. I seriously am taking no chances so close to the trip.

Who needs a good slap: No one.

Well, maybe Trump. But that’s pretty much a perennial thing.

What has made me smile: The realisation that next week I’ll be off on an adventure.

I’ve been putting my head in the sand, pretty much ignoring that Antarctica is really going to happen. Last year Latestarter Fire and I were so disappointed to have to postpone our trip – she had to actually cancel it – so I guess I didn’t want to get disappointed again.

This time tomorrow I’ll be halfway to New Zealand on the first leg of the trip…

Dad joke of the day:

Wednesday W’s #45

What’s top of my mind: how quickly covid can fuck things up.

No, no no, I don’t have it!

But remember how I was only going to leave two weeks to hunker down away from crowds before I left on my trip? Then bethh left a comment, suggesting that I give myself an extra week, just in case.

“You might want to take 3 weeks off ahead of your trip – IF you were exposed on your last day of work, it could take 7+ days to show up and 10 days to clear. I almost messed up a trip in July/August by getting Covid closer to the departure date than I planned! I only tested negative the morning of my flight. It probably partly depends on the rules for your trip – in my case it was a very light case, my housemate didn’t even catch it, and I felt fine by the time my trip arrived. Thank goodness for vaccines & boosters!”

Today was going to be my last day of working and tonight was going to be my last outing… David29 and Izzy have a tasting evening at their wedding reception to choose the menu items for their wedding.

Last night at 11 PM he called me and said that Izzy’s mum has just tested positive to covid. Even though they live with her, the happy couple, Izzy’s Dad and sister are all allowed to still attend. Imagine if I was still going and she’d found out a day or two later?

David29 said that there’s around 16,000 active cases in Victoria at the moment.

Where I’ve been: at the doctor’s. The hairdressers. The chemist.

Yesterday I received my 5th dose of the vax. It takes 2 weeks to be at its most effective, so hopefully, that’ll help keep me safe on the planes. I also had a haircut – holding my mask on my face at all times.

Today I took a nice stroll to the other side of the highway to pick up some anti-seasick tablets that Blogless Sandy recommended.

Where I’m going: to get some money.

I’ve ordered some currency – Chilean pesos, Argentinian pesos and Euros – and I’m waiting for the currency place in Mornington to let me know when they have it all assembled for me. I thought that it was probably safer to go to Mornington than Southland at this stage.

What I’m reading: The Long Game by Simon Rowell.

I just put this down an hour ago. I enjoyed it very much. It’s set in and around Melbourne and the Mornington Peninsula and it was so nice to actually know the places where the action was happening.

Plus Harry the dog was amazing – I love a Golden!

What I’m watching: The last season of ‘The Walking Dead’… at last.

I decided that if my ship goes down in Drake’s Passage and I’m bobbing around, waiting to be rescued, I didn’t want to have unanswered questions about what ends up happening in The Walking Dead. So I’ve launched into it.

What I’m listening to: the sounds of the neighbourhood.

I’m sitting here on the couch, the dogs asleep beside me. Jeff’s snoring.

I can hear the kids next door playing in their yard, with birds chirping and cars driving by every now and then. It’s a sunny afternoon after a morning of rain.

What I’m eating: sneaky fish and chips for lunch.

When I was walking back from the chemists, I saw that the fish and chip shop was open, so I decided to grab a minimum chips, potato cake and a fried dimmie. It was ok, I guess, though for some reason the chips were bright yellow.

Put me off a bit.

What I’m planning: my Little Adventure for November.

It has to be somewhere away from lots of people. And definitely NOT a school excursion. Blogless Helen told me off about that one!! LOL.

Who needs a good slap: The Chilean Embassy.

I submitted my visa application on October 4. It’s now 6 weeks later. I still haven’t got it. I sent them an email today, but I’m getting nervous.

What has made me smile: my freedom.

On Monday I drove over to Tom30’s place, let myself in, made a cuppa and turned on a Netflix movie. He was getting a washing machine delivered and would otherwise have had to take a day off work.

It’s lovely to have the time available to do little things like this for my kids.

He also suggestively left the ironing board and iron out, but I pretended I didn’t see them.

Dad joke of the day:

Wednesday W’s #44.

What’s top of my mind: This is my last day of teaching for the year!

Due to a comment last week, I’ve decided to allow 3 weeks of avoiding crowded places before I jump on the plane for Antarctica. Right at this moment, I’m sitting in front of a year 8 class, deflating little boys who think they’re able to do whatever they want.

Fools.

Where I’ve been: In my sewing room.

When I decided to increase my crowd-free weeks before my trip, I decreased the time I had available to make baby quilts for people at work. I spent the last few days frantically sewing and quilting and finished them yesterday, only to learn that one of the recipients doesn’t work on Wednesdays.

D’Oh! I’m going to have to sneak into both campuses tomorrow morning to deliver them.

Where I’m going: to the Apple store at Southland.

Blogless Sandy lent me a carry-on bag for my trip. One look at it convinced me that I won’t be able to escape bringing checked luggage – packing for both -5C and summer temperatures on the one trip means that I’ll need more space than a carry-on bag will give me. So I’m going to buy an iTag for my suitcase.

It’s one of those purchases where it’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.

What I’m reading: Stone Blind by Natalie Haynes.

I like to have an eBook on my iPad, as well as my kindle books and my podcasts. Every now and then, when I’m searching on Borrowbox, I’ll come across books that I otherwise wouldn’t have.

Stone Blind is the story of Medusa. I’m only a couple of chapters in but I think I’ll enjoy it.

What I’m watching: nothing. And everything.

The Block has finished, not with a bang but with a whimper. I’m finishing off ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ on SBS, American ‘Survivor’ on Go!, The Serpent Queen’, ‘Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK’ and ‘The Circus’ on Stan and my queue on ‘Netflix is lengthy. Add on my new ‘Binge’ subscription (I still haven’t watched the last season of ‘The Walking Dead’) and I’m really spoiled for choice.

What I’m listening to: The Other Half podcast.

I just love this podcast! I first stumbled across ‘The Queens of England’ podcast a few years ago and absolutely loved it. Once he finished this, he began successive series of podcasts looking at women in history. If you’re a history buff, I’d HIGHLY recommend his work. I’ve learned so much and each episode is interesting – quite an amazing feat considering how many there are!

He’s just on the last story of the ‘women and the papacy’ series, ending with a nun in 1930’s Italy who sounds like an absolute powerhouse.

Looking forward to hearing what the next series will be about.

What I’m eating: salads from Thermobexta’s new book.

I’m still working my way through this book. I’ve decided that now there’s only two of us in the house, I’d like to have a salad or two in the fridge and pick away at them for meals.

Last night I made the sweet potato salad and the sesame coleslaw and paired them with some roasted drumsticks. We’ll probably have the same tonight.

What I’m planning: My trip.

Up until now, this holiday has had all the feeling of being a dream. After I had to cancel it last year due to lockdowns, it’s always been “in the future.” Now that my last day of teaching has come, along with the delivery of Blogless Sandy’s suitcase, it’s starting to seem real.

I need to get some cash. I found out yesterday that UBank doesn’t charge international fees on their Visa debit cards, so I’ll have to activate the one I’ve had with them for years. I think I’ll use that to pay for my bill on the ship.

I need to work out how to use Google Translate (I’ve never used it) and I should probably learn a few Spanish phrases. Seems polite.

Still need to get some seasickness medication. The Drake passage is apparently not to be sneezed at. I have no idea if I’m a good sailor or not, but I think I’m about to find out.

I’ve just had a chat with a beautiful student in year 9 who I used to teach in year 7. She’s from Santiago, so I’ve picked her brain about good places to go. She’s so excited that I’m seeing her city.

Who needs a good slap: The Drake Passage.

What has made me smile: it’s MY LAST DAY!!!!!

On balance, I’ve enjoyed coming back here to work – and I’ve really enjoyed the money – but I’m so looking forward to 3 cruisy weeks at home before I set off.

I’ve shamefully neglected my veggie garden, so I want to have it up and running before I go. If all Ryan27 has to do is water it every couple of days or so, it should be looking good by the time I get back.

Dad Joke of the Day:

I used this as the Dad Joke for a French class last week. It cracked them up.

Wednesday W’s #43

What’s top of my mind: The year 8’s are STILL studying ‘Bend it Like Beckham.’

Over my time at this school, I would have seen this film about 50 times. Don’t get me wrong – it’s an entertaining movie with really good themes, but I would’ve thought that there’d be something more modern by now for the kids to look at.

But hey. At least I get to look at Jonathan Rhys Meyers for a couple of periods today!

Where I’ve been: The couch on the front verandah.

I’ve read a ton of books over the last couple of weeks. It’s nice to take a cuppa out and sit in the sunshine.

Where I’m going: The Apple store (maybe).

I might need an airTag.

See below.

What I’m reading: ‘The Marriage Portrait’ by Maggie O’Farrell.

Just about every English class I’ve ever taught has had a look at my favourite poem. ‘My Last Duchess’ by Robert Browning. The masterly reveal of the psychopathic Duke is so beautifully done.

The real-life inspiration for this poem is widely believed to be Lucretia de Medici. She is also the protagonist of this novel. Imagine. Married at 15, dead a year later. Her husband ended up having 3 wives – no children. Not even illegitimate ones. But of course, it’s the women’s fault…

What I’m watching: Bend it Like Beckham.

The soundtrack is in my ears. I’ve seen it so many times that I don’t have to look at the screen to know exactly what’s happening.

What I’m listening to: The Bend it Like Beckham soundtrack.

See above.

I’m also listening to ‘Shandee’s Legacy’ – the podcast about the public inquiry into the appalling behaviour and dereliction of duty that the Queensland DNA lab has been doing over the last 10 years. This was uncovered during the podcast called ‘Shandee’s story’ which looked at the ‘unsolved’ murder of Shandee Blackburn in 2012.

(I put ‘unsolved’ in inverted commas because even though her ex-boyfriend was acquitted in a trial, TWO coronial inquests have named him as the probable murderer. He got off mainly due to the lack of DNA evidence.)

The court revelations are incredible. It’s week 5 and the last two eps, in particular, are explosive. It’s mind-blowing that hundreds, probably thousands, of crimes in Queensland have gone unsolved because the DNA lab was either lazy or incompetent.

The craziest thing about it is that it’d still be going on if the original podcast of ‘Shandee’s Story’ hadn’t asked a DNA scientist to explain some of the findings and she got very worried about what she was seeing.

What I’m eating: Salads.

David29 has put his back out and is coming over tonight to get a myo treatment from Ryan27. He’s staying for dinner, so I’ll be making a roast chook and a couple of different salads. Yum!

What I’m planning: My trip.

The tour company sent lots of forms etc on the weekend, along with a brochure of info from the actual ship. I’ve been jolted into reality – it’s only about 4 weeks until I go to the airport.

I was going to buy a carry-on suitcase, but luckily Blogless Sandy has Just The Thing, so a trip to the peninsula is on the cards so I can pick it up. Then I have to make the decision – can I manage with just carry-on, or will I have to take some checked baggage with me as well? I have FOUR flights each way, so I’m worried about my suitcase going astray.

Who needs a good slap: Baggage handlers.

I’ve never had to worry about this before, but it seems like every time I hop on Twitter there’s another tale of woe about baggage going missing.

What has made me smile: Putting the Christmas List together.

It’s not long now!

I just love Christmas.

Dad joke of the day:

Wednesday W’s #42.

Robin Williams from Jumanji.
He has luscious hair and a luxuriant beard.

What’s top of my mind: I’m over halfway there!

Have a look at this year’s Retirement Reading Challenge, over on the side of the blog. This year is the highest target yet, with the inclusion of my dog registration fees as well as my property rates added to the total.

I’ve been reading some fantastic titles from the library. Whoever buys books for the Kingston library is doing a cracking job. I’ve read 3 books in the last 5 days which were all excellent. Never has a personal challenge been more enjoyable!

Where I’ve been: Lawn Bowling with the year 7s.

I really didn’t want to take this day’s work when the Daily Org mentioned that I’d be taking sport in the afternoon. However, she was kind to me. 17 kids are bussed to and from the bowling Club in the next suburb, and they have instructors once they get there.

My friend Helen, who I went to North Korea with, is also doing a day of CRT. She’s going POWER WALKING with the year 7s. Honestly, your days can get pretty varied when you’re a CRT.

Where I’m going: Nowhere much.

Now that November is rapidly approaching, this means that Antarctica is also getting close. I’ve avoided covid for the last couple of years so I’d hate to get it now. I’m thinking of hunkering down and just pottering around the house until my flight out of here.

What I’m reading: Here are the 3 books I mentioned above…

  1. The Ink Black Heart – Robert Galbraith

One of the perks of freedom is that if you feel like binge reading, you can finish a 1,000 page book in 2 days. I really like this series and, once I got my head around how to tackle the internet chat sections, I galloped through it, thoroughly enjoying the ride.

2. The Paper Palace – Miranda Cowley Heller

I liked this one, particularly the way it was all put together.

3. Lucy By the Sea- Elizabeth Strout

Elizabeth Strout is an extraordinary writer. This is the 4th in the Lucy Barton series, set during the first year of the pandemic. It’s a beautiful book, so simple yet so profound.

I have another novel by my bed, waiting for my next day of freedom.

What I’m watching: Kids pretending to work.

The year 8 camps are on this week – we have so many kids at this school that the year level camps are always split in two – and I’m supervising a Science class that is 3 classes smooshed into one. Their classmates are all away at camp and so I have 15 kids sitting in front of me.

Obviously, the teachers aren’t going to leave major assignments for only a few kids to do while the majority of the classes are away, so the kids are (with permission) wearing headphones and are “listening to music” while they “do their work.”

In reality, whatever work was left for them has been finished long ago and they’re playing games. Hey, as long as they’re quiet, I don’t mind.

What I’m listening to: Podcasts.

I seem to alternate between listening to an audiobook and letting my poddies build up, then once the book is finished, burning through the podcasts until there’s nothing left, then borrowing another audiobook.

There’s no way I can go for a drive without having my stories with me!

What I’m eating: Lentil and Halloumi salad.

Thermobexta has released another cookbook. This time it’s another salad book. We’ve tried a couple of recipes, but I have to say that the lentil and halloumi salad is worth the price of the book alone. Even Ryan27, who’s not a fan of salad dressing in general, really enjoyed this for dinner last night.

I have all but one of her books and they’re the only things that enabled me to keep my cool when Evan26 became a vegetarian a few years ago. Her recipes are excellent.

What I’m planning: The next salad I’ll make from this book.

The pumpkin, feta and black rice one sounds nice.

Who needs a good slap: Me.

I’ve been doing so much reading, I’ve let a lot of other things slide. I have 2 baby quilts I want to make before I go away and I’m going to run out of time if I don’t watch out. But once a story grabs me I just HAVE to find out what happens…

What has made me smile: My tax return.

For the first time ever, my accountant son Tom30 is doing my tax. I knew it’d be a great return, seeing as I didn’t work for 8 months out of the financial year.

Tom30 rang me yesterday to let me know how much I’d be getting back. I’m pretty happy with it! I’d have to work nearly 14 days to get the same amount of money in my take-home wage. 🙂

Sandra from Simple Savings told me that I’d get a nice little bonus for my Antarctica trip when I did my taxes. She wasn’t wrong.

Dad joke of the day:

I accidentally swallowed my cat’s medicine.

Don’t ask meow.

Little Adventures #18. Geography Excursion to the city. October 2022.

I didn’t do a Little Adventure last month – I was too tired and all I wanted to do was rediscover the glories of being at home. But I’ve got back on the horse that threw me and I’m on the quest to go somewhere each month to a place or experience I’ve never had before.

This month started with a text on Monday evening.

“Hi Frogdancer! Would you be available to go on an excursion to the city with the year 8s tomorrow? “

As it happened, I’d arranged to take Scout to the vet on Tuesday for her annual grease and oil change, but just as I was about to hit ‘send’ on the first refusal of an offer of work I’d ever have done… I paused. This was a very late text. They normally don’t hire CRTs for excursions. Someone has clearly had to bail at the last minute and they were desperate.

Dammit.

I sent ‘ok’ and turned up to the main campus bright and early the next morning, ready to go into the city with 2 year 8 classes and 4 other teachers. We were going to learn about how Melbourne’s land use has changed over the years since settlement.

The kids were enthralled to learn that one of the names originally slated for our city was “Batmania.”

We rode in on the train and started off at Federation Square. The kids were all sitting down, listening to their teachers as they were filling in answers in their booklets, when one of the kids noticed an old man taking photos of them.

“Is he allowed to do that, Miss?” she asked.

Turns out he was a retired teacher from Holland, here to visit his sister. He complimented us on how well-behaved our children were, saying that in Holland the kids are feral. “They don’t have very good parenting!”

Fed Square always seems like a wasted opportunity to me. It’s always empty and it looks really uninviting. How hard can it be to have a space that people actually want to be in?

The photos on this post are taken from the internet. I left my phone at home.

The next step on our journey was Birrarung Mar.

It’s been ages since I’ve walked on this side of the Yarra. I had it in my head that Birrarung Mar was closer to Docklands, but there it was, tucked away behind Fed Square.

We were here for quite a while. The kids were sketching what they could see on the banks of the Yarra and answering questions in their booklet about how land usage had changed over the last couple of hundred years (and further, of course.)

After we’d eaten morning tea, we moved on down the Yarra to a bridge I’d never noticed before. Here’s where it got interesting.

Sandridge bridge is way down the Yarra. One thing you know when you go on a Geography excursion, there’s going to be a lot of walking! The sculptures on this bridge are ok, but it was the perspex plates stretching all the way across the bridge that were really interesting.

Each rectangle documented the stats of the immigrants from a country – how many were in Australia as a whole, how many were in Victoria, how their professions have changed since 1820 onwards, and the languages that they brought here.

As soon as the kids hit the bridge, they all raced off to look at the countries that were in their backgrounds. Nothing could have illustrated how much of an immigrant nation we are as they all scattered! I walked along, looking at England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. There’s not a huge amount of diversity in my family tree!

Just around the corner from the bridge was Banana Alley. I’d heard about this place but I’d never been here before. It was good to put a face to the name. 🙂

We walked back across the bride and went to lunch at a food court in Southbank.

The plan was to go to the Arts precinct after lunch, but when we got there the lawn was packed with people attending a Welcome to Country ceremony. We decided tto go across the road so the kids could answer their questions from there.

It was nice. Every now and then we’d hear the click of the rhythm sticks and we could smell a waft of smoke, mingled with the ‘ding’ of the trams going by. The real teachers were talking about the things the kids needed to write down, as the rest of Melbourne hurried by.

The last stop before we jumped on the train to go home was the Alexandra Gardens.

Then it was all over, red rover as we walked the kids back to school. I was knackered! As I said at the start, there’s always a lot of walking on a Geography excursion.

I wouldn’t say that it was the most rivetting Little Adventure ever, but I got to see a few new places in my home town and it’s definitely the first Little Adventure that I got paid for!

Dad joke of the day:

How does a mathematician plough fields? 

With a pro-tractor.

Wednesday W’s #41.

What’s top of my mind: My veggie garden.

I’ve planted some seedlings – because of working so much last term I neglected starting any of my precious harvested seeds from scratch over winter – and now I’m in a battle with the local blackbirds and pigeons.

They want to scratch up the mulch to eat the worms I’ve so carefully nurtured. While they’re doing this, they sometimes scratch up the seedlings, or at the very least cover them with mulch. Every few hours, I’m going out there to chase them away and repair any damage.

Where I’ve been: On October’s Little Adventure.

I’ll be blogging about this next.

Where I’m going: To the in-laws for a birthday party.

On Sunday I’m going to Izzy’s parents’ place for her little sister’s 21st birthday party – the family edition. It’s nice that they’ve thought to invite me.

What I’m reading: 5 thumping good reads.

Well, I’ve actually READ all of these. I was so tired by the time the holidays came that all I wanted to do was nap and read. I’ve been on a lucky streak of picking some absolutely wonderful books.

  1. The Mother by Jane Caro.

I read this in less than a day. Loved it. It made me question what I would do if one of my boys was in a similar pickle. I haven’t reached any conclusions…

2. Shrines of Gaiety by Kate Atkinson.

The same author who wrote the wonderful Life After Life that, although I read it in 2014, I’ve never forgotten. I see there are a lot more novels that I need to catch up on, which makes me happy. This one is set in 1020’s London and the construction of the storyline is beautifully done. Another one I gulped down.

3. Fairy Tale by Stephen King.

4. Two Nights in Lisbon – Chris Pavone

This was excellent. A fast-paced thriller that I found hard to put down.

5. Coronado – Dennis Lehane

Freddy Smidlap, a blogger from the US, recommended this to me in the comments a while ago. I’m so glad he did, otherwise I’d probably never have run into it. A collection of short stories.

What I’m watching: House of the Dragon.

Now that I’ve got a Binge subscription, Ryan27 and I are watching this as our mother/son bonding show. I’ve only seen 1 episode so far, but I like what I’m seeing.

What I’m listening to: next door’s dogs.

Thank Christ I’m not listening to them now, but yesterday they started barking and asking to be let in at 5:30 AM. Seriously? If I can hear them, then their owners could definitely hear them. I wasn’t happy.

What I’m eating: Flybuys fish fillets.

A few weeks ago I had to buy $50 worth of groceries at Coles for 4 weeks to get a free $50 voucher. (I used it on meat.) It was hard some weeks to get to the $50, so one purchase I made was the Coles brand of frozen crumbed fish fillets, thinking they’d be on a par with Aldi’s ones.

They’re horrible – tasteless and with a gummy texture to the crumb layer that’s really off-putting. In true Frogdancer Jones fashion, I’ll use them up, but I definitely won’t be buying them again.

What I’m planning: Nothing; though I should be.

It’s not long before I leave for my trip to Antarctica. In my head though, it still feels like it’s MONTHS away. I’ve been planning to go for so long that it seems like it’ll always be in the future.

Who needs a good slap: Inanimate objects.

They’re annoying me at the moment. Aways getting caught on stuff, tipping over or being mislaid. Very irritating and not at all my fault.

What has made me smile:

A kid just asked which “Orthodentist” another kid was going to.

When you think about it, it’s probably what they should be called.

Dad joke of the day:

Don’t throw sodium chloride at people.

It’s a salt.

Wednesday W’s #40.

Sky at the backyard beach.

What’s top of my mind: My stint of living by myself appears to be over.

I only had 2 nights!!!!

Ryan27 is moving back in.

Where I’ve been: to see ‘Underwire.’

I saw Jenna’s cabaret show twice and it was GREAT! Lord knows, the kids know that I’m not the type of parent who gushes uncritically over everything they do. When it’s dodgy… I tell them. But when they do a great job, I tell them that too.

‘Underwire’ will be at the Adelaide Fringe and the Melbourne Comedy Festival later this year and next year. Definitely go along and see it. It’s an hour you’ll definitely enjoy.

Where I’m going: Kate’s place for dinner.

It’s Mum’s 82nd birthday today, so a few of us are meeting at my sister’s place for dinner.

What I’m reading: Stephen King’s Fairy Tale.

I’m halfway through and I’m really enjoying it. Like some of his door-stopper novels, it took a little while to get going but we’re definitely away now! An added bonus is that the protagonist loves his dog – definitely right up my alley.

What I’m watching: 1,000 pound Sisters.

Rarely have I seen a more unpleasant and stupid group of people. I do NOT recommend.

What I’m listening to: The Last Library – by Freya Sampson.

I’m up-to-date with all my podcasts so I needed an audiobook to have on the go. This one is a pleasant read about the imminent closing of a small-town library and how the community bands together to try and save it.

It mentions a lot of books, so I’m adding to my ‘To read one day’ list.

What I’m eating: Roast Lamb and Apple Crumble.

That’s what Mum has requested for her birthday dinner.

What I’m planning: Redecorating my lounge/dining/kitchen.

After I get back from Antarctica I’ll need a new project. I’m currently mulling over colours and window treatments.

Who needs a good slap: Those 1,000 pound sisters.

Honestly. Would it kill them to be nice to one another?

What has made me smile: Seeing Tom30 in his own place.

He’s so proud of his house. Ryan27 came over for dinner last night so I took him over to have a look at it. Tom30 absolutely LOVED showing his brother everything about his new house. It was really lovely to see.

Dad joke of the day:

Wednesday W’s #39.

What’s top of my mind: Only 2 more sleeps until Tom30 moves into his first place!

Here’s a little snap of the Man Cave, with all of Tom30’s packing in it. Melbourne had a 4 day weekend recently and he spent that time putting all his belongings into boxes. He’s been here since the end of February and it’ll seem weird to finally get the Man Cave back to the way it was.

When it started, his 90-day settlement seemed so far into the future. Now, it’s here. He gets the keys tomorrow and he’s taking the day off on Friday to move. He’s hired a truck to get all of the big things moved, as well as picking up a fridge a friend has promised him. I’ll be ferrying lots of little boxes over in my car.

Naturally, the weather forecast is for rain all day.

Where I’ve been: meeting my cousin for the third time ever.

Ahhh love! Who can tell where it strikes? Five decades ago, my aunt fell in love with a guy from Indiana and moved over there. A couple of decades later, she moved back. This means I have a couple of cousins in the states – one in LA and one in Brooklyn.

My aunt and her family came out to Australia and stayed with us once when we were kids. Since then, my younger cousin has come out twice to see his Mum.

He’s a really nice guy. It’s a shame that we live so far apart.

Where I’m going: Underwire.

Jenna and Evan26 are performing in this cabaret show that Jenna has written, all about her experiences growing up with enormous jugs from a very young age. They’ve both worked really hard on it and I can’t wait to see it. Tom30, David29 and Izzy went to see it on opening night and they came back raving about it.

REVIEW HERE.

I’m going on Friday and Saturday. I’m SO looking forward to it. Jenna is a talented woman. (Evan26 isn’t so bad either.)

What I’m reading: ‘Coronado’ by Dennis Lehane.

Freddy Smidlap recommended this collection of short stories (and a play script) in a comment a week or two ago. I jumped onto my local library and reserved it. So far, I’ve read all the short stories and I’m hoping to finish the play script before the end of today.

These stories are really good, but kind of sad. Life is hard for these characters and the unvarnished writing clearly depicts their situations with absolutely no sentimentality. I’m enjoying this collection.

What I’m watching: The Block.

For those who aren’t from here, The Block is a renovation show where 4 or 5 couples completely renovate properties in 12 weeks. I love it.

Every year the task gets bigger and bigger. I remember the first season was just getting couples to gently renovate 4 tiny apartments in Bondi. Now, 18 seasons later, they’re renovating and landscaping 500 square metre houses on 10 acres of land.

Every season, you wonder if they’re asking too much of the contestants and this year is no exception. THE MUD!!!! That alone would be enough to do my head in.

What I’m listening to: Shandee’s Legacy.

This is season 2 of the podcast ‘Shandee;s Story.’ This season they’re picking apart the court case that has the only forensic lab in Queensland being investigated for massive incompetence and possible corruption.

It’s incredible how badly this lab has performed over at least the last ten years. How many criminals have walked free because the lab didn’t detect their DNA? Also, there are possibly innocent people in jail because of similar DNA bungles. It’s horrifying.

What I’m eating: Roast lamb for dinner.

I promised Tom30 that I’d make a roast dinner for his last dinner home.

What I’m planning: My luggage to Antarctica.

I’m seriously thinking about only taking carry-on luggage to Antarctica. My American cousin showed me the carry-on bag that he’s been using for years and I think that with some super strategic packing (and wearing bulky fleece clothes on the plane) I might be able to do it.

‘Might’ is the operative word. I have essential ‘cold weather’ things that might make it impossible. Mum and Dad have a hand-held lugguge weighing thing that I’ll be borrowing, just to see if it’s possible.

I was at the travel agents yesterday to sort out my visa to Chile and we checked the weight requirements for carry-on. It seems that 10kg is what most airlines have as their limit. The actual bag I’d buy retails for around $600. This is why I’m typing this in front of a year 9 English class. Yes, two days of CRT work and I’ll have paid for it.

Ah well. It’s supposed to rain this afternoon so I may as well be in a classroom.

Who needs a good slap: Me, for buying a petrol lawn mower.

When we moved here to The Best House in Melbourne over 6 years ago, I wanted to buy an electric lawn mower. I’d had one before at the old place and it was so easy to use. But I stupidly had Ryan21 (as he was then) with me at the time and his testosterone made a petrol lawn mower an imperative. He was the one who was going to use it, so I capitulated and bought one.

Now, when Tom30 moves away, I’ll be alone in the house. Being Spring, the lawn is practically leaping out of the ground. The petrol lawn mower is a bugger to start and a PIA to keep supplied with petrol.

I’ve decided to give my mower to Tom30 – he has a big nature strip out the front of his house to mow and he has absolutely no spare money to buy a mower for himself – and I’ll zip off to Bunnings and buy the mower that I should have bought in the first place.

What has made me smile: Seeing Tom30 accomplish his goal.

Sometimes people wonder how second-generation FIRE kids grow up to handle their money. When Tom30 unexpectedly moved back home in February, his goal was to have enough saved for a deposit on a 2 BR unit/townhouse/apartment by the end of next year.

When he realised the opportunity he had to save by living with the delightful Frogdancer Jones, Ryan27 and the little woofs, he knuckled down and got the job done in 10 months.

Along the way, he discussed all his plans with me and we talked over possible strategies and ways to swing things to get to the amount of money he needed. Being an accountant who works with a lot of mortgage brokers, he was very good at the high-end financial stuff. I, on the other hand, am very good at the day-to-day strategies to make money stretch further.

I prefer to believe that the reason he achieved his goal so quickly was by being motivated by the chance to live rent-free and stack his money away, rather than being motivated by wanting to get the hell away from living with his Mum. As I said in the paragraph above…

I’m delightful…

Dad joke of the day:

I swallowed a book about synonyms.

It gave me thesaurus throat I’ve ever had.

Wednesday W’s #38.

What’s top of my mind: Finishing the dishcloths for Tom30.

There’s a week to go before Tom30 gets the keys to his first place. Ages ago he asked if I’d knit him some dishcloths for his kitchen, so all this week I’ve been knitting bamboo squares for him. I haven’t touched knitting needles for 2 years or so and ny hands are feeling it. Still, I want him to have at least 5 to take with him.

When your child actually asks you to make somethuing for them, you deliver! He’s also asked for a couch quilt too, but that’ll have to be a summer job.

Where I’ve been: sitting around waiting for my car to be fixed.

It’s been an expensive month for my little VW Golf. I bought her brand new 8 years ago and this is the first year I’ve had any problems. More on the saga below.

Where I’m going: out to lunch.

I’ve known Gill for as long as I’ve been working at my old school. She is an English teacher like me and so we’ve been friends and colleagues for 20 years or so.

She’s taking a term of long service leave, and unlike Frogdancer Jones, she has no desire to make a big farewell speech at the end-of-year staff function, so she’ll simply never return to her desk.

A group of us are gathering today to have lunch and to celebrate Gill’s magnificence.

What I’m reading: The Cabin at the End of the World.

I saw this one talked about on Twitter. M Night Shayamalan is making a movie based on this, called ‘Knock at the Cabin’, and people were raving about how good this novel is. I’m two chapters in and I’m liking it a lot. The author’s use of tension is very good.

What I’m watching: Spring come to the garden.

My back garden is pretty much all about the veggies, but my front garden is full of fruit trees and flowers. Every year it’s so lovely to see my old friends come back with colour. First thing in the morning, after I put the coffee on, I go outside to pick up after the little woofs. I can always tell when Spring has turned. One morning the air lacks the chill of winter and from then on it’s all happening.

I was planning to do lots with the garden this year but working so much has prevented that. Still, there’s always next year!

What I’m listening to: Jeff’s snoring.

When you choose to shre your life with cavaliers, the snoring is almost inevitable, Poppy’s not too bad, but Jeff’s a snuffly boy. I still remember Laura – she used to snore so loudly that I would wake in the middle of the night and hear her in her kennel al the way from the back yard.

What I’m eating: Potato chips.

I had everyone over for dinner last Saturday to celebrate our 3 September birthdays – mine, David29’s and Evan26’s – and we didn’t eat a couple of bags of potato chips. Well, it’d be a sin to let them go to waste, wouldn’t it?

What I’m planning: Two baby quilts.

Two young women from work are expecting babies next year. I like these girls very much, so they’re both getting a quilt before I leave for Antarctica. I was planning on finishing the Seaglass quilt top by then, but now it might have to wait until I get back.

Who needs a good slap: Whoever designed the cabin pressure valves in the boot of my car.

A while ago I mentioned on one of the blogs that my car boot was flooding. Turns out that the rubber on the cabin pressure valves had completely perished and so there were two holes on either side of my car that was letting water pour straight in. Not a quick job to find and fix – my car was there for 2 days.

A thousand dollars later, she’s back with me. Then, a day later, I bought some new tyres ($500) and found out that the rear brake pads and rotors are rusted. She’s going back to them on Monday to get them replaced… ($600. )

The picture at the top of this post is the rear left rotor thingy and brake pad. Apparently, they’re not meant to look like this.

Naturally September is rego ($900) and insurance ($700) month too. Of course it is!

What has made me smile: My son values my feedback.

Being a drama teacher, having a son who’s a performer is very satisfying. Listening to his podcast and going to see him and his partner perform their shows is joyous. Also, because I’m a drama teacher, I can’t turn off the critic… if something’s good, I say so. If something needs improvement or clarification, I’ll mention it too. It won’t help them in the long run if I try to polish any turds.

Thankfully, both Jenna and Evan26 are good at their craft, so the positive feedback far outweighs the constructive criticism. (I just knocked on wood whe I typed that. Jenna has a caberet show on next week that she wrote herself. I don’t want to jinx her.)

Yesterday, we were talking and he asked if I’d listened to the latest podcast. I said that I saw that one had dropped, but I was listening to a ‘Casefile’ episode that had awful child abuse on it and I had to keep going with it to find out if the police caught the people responsible. (Turns out, they did. Phew.) I said I’d listen to his podcast tomorrow.

He said that he’d be interested to hear what I thought as they were trying an idea he’d had. We briefly talked about what it was and I’ll be calling him tomorrow after I’ve heard it to let him know what I thought of it.

I don’t know… it’s a small thing, but I couldn’t help but smile when I hung up the phone. It feels special when your adult son cares enough about your opinion that he actually asks for feedback.

Dad joke of the day:

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