Financially Independent, Retired Early(ish) at 57.

Category: Wednesday W’s (Page 1 of 8)

Wednesday W’s #80.

What’s top of my mind:
I’m not carrying teaching into my 60’s.

It appears that I made the decision without even realising it. On Monday I simply started telling kids and some teachers that I’m not planning on coming back. Once you tell people, it means that you’re locked into a decision.

At least, that’s how it works with me.

I was talking about it with the kids. David29 said, “Mum, you’ve got enough money. I don’t know why you’re still doing it. Just stop it!”

When I was with Evan26 and Jenna, Jenna said something that resonated in my head after she said it. “So, cool, you’re not carrying teaching into your 60’s. “

I LOVE the arbitrary line in the sand of that! I’ve been teaching in my 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and 50’s.

When you think of it like that… maybe it’s time to try something else. Like… say… total freedom over my time.

(I still haven’t let the Daily Organiser know. Maybe I’ll text her just before I jump on the plane.)

Where I’ve been: Racing around.

I leave in 3 days, so I’ve been Getting Things Done. One of those things was seeing Evan26, which is where I saw the lovely little house with the amazing window at the top of the page.

I’ve been to the chemist to get my throat medications for 5 weeks. Tomorrow I’m getting my haircut… You know, the list goes on.

Where I’m going: To see my American cousin.

My Dad’s sister married an American guy, back in the day, and so I have US cousins. My aunt moved back to Australia a couple of decades ago and lately, her son has been popping over to see her every couple of years or so. He’s absolutely lovely. This time, it’s my cousin Jennifer from LA.

I haven’t seen her since I was about 10 when their family came out to Australia to meet us. She’s flying into Melbourne 2 days before I leave, so hopefully her jetlag and my organisation about my trip will mean that we can meet up the day before I go.

What I’m reading: NOTHING.

Yeah, I know. Unprecedented.

I’ll be adding books to my iPad in the next couple of days to make sure I have things to read while I’m away. I got through 6 books ( I think) when I was in Antarctica.

What I’m watching: The Block.

Gutted that I won’t see Bathroom Reveal this week. Imagine the glut of episodes that I’ll have to watch when I get back!

I’ve added lots of daisies, lavender, kangaroo paws, and these protea-type flowers in the photo to my front garden. I’m hoping that Ryan28 will keep them alive, so by Christmas Day my garden will look FABULOUS.

What I’m listening to: Kids pretending to work.

This class I’m in front of is doing a catch-up lesson on their major assignment that we’ve been working on for the last month. Some groups are finished and, after checking what they’ve done against the rubric to make sure that they’ll get top marks, now have free time. Other groups are grimly plugging away at sections they’ve neglected.

I kept telling them to look after “Future Them” when they were lazing around. Some people just have to learn by hard experience.

What I’m eating: Leftovers from the roast lamb we had the other night.


What I’m planning: Where to dump my suitcase on the first day in London.

I’ve paid for an early check-in at 12 PM, but I arrive in London at around 6 AM. It’ll cut the day in half if I’m schlepping over to the hotel in the middle of the day. I want to be out and about seeing things! I’m not sure whether to see if they’ll stow my bag away for me, or if I’ll locate a station with lockers and stash my bag somewhere central for the day.

To avoid jetlag, I’ll have to keep galloping all over the place. By the time it got to mid-afternoon last time, jetlag was starting to hit me hard. By 6:30, over dinner, I fell asleep and woke up literally one inch from faceplanting into my food. I had Scott there to keep me awake last time. This time it’ll be just me.

Who needs a thumbs up: The nice chemist with the melatonin tablets.

I’m hoping that a combo of drowsy anti-histamines and melatonin on the plane will help me adjust to the local time much easier than in 2015.

What has made me smile:

I took this photo of the boronia that I bought when I was at the nursery last week. I’ve tried a couple of times to grow them, but they’re notoriously finicky and they died both times. I love their scent though.

When I was buying colour for my front yard, I saw a worker putting out heaps of these on display and I mentioned my murderous past to her.

“I used to be exactly the same, but then I changed how I looked at them,” she said. “I look on the m as an annual. I keep one in the kitchen every year, where I can smell it first thing every day when I get up. When it gets sick, I put it in the compost and buy another one the next year. It works out far cheaper than buying cut flowers.”

So I’m giving it a go. I hope Ryan28 keeps it alive until I get back, because the smell is divine.

Dad joke of the day:

Wednesday W’s #79.

What’s top of my mind: Will I keep teaching when I come back from my trip?

People sometimes ask me what would it take for me to stop doing CRT (Casual Relief Teaching). I’ve always replied that sometime, something will happen. A kid will say or do something, another teacher or parent will say or do something and I’ll throw up myhands and declare, “I don’t need this in my life! I’ve got enough money! I’m done with all this!”

The thing is, I always thought the defining moment would happen directly to me…

However, three separate things have happened to other people in the last few weeks and it’s got me thinking in ways that our beleagured Daily Organiser would definitely not want me to go.

One thing that happened was an accident in the scool gym. A teacher was hit on the head with a basketball and fell to the floor, smacking her head. She was unconscious for several minutes before she revived. I was actually there beside her, talking to her and helping her to reorient herself, before briefing the school nurse. An ambulance wasn’t called until the end of the day. I can almost guarantee the story would’ve been different if it had been a kid that was knocked unconscious… (She’s still off work after a couple of weeks.)

The second one involved a class who turned on a CRT very loudly and made her feel unsafe.

The third incident involved a very experienced teacher who gave a boy an afterschool detention. His mother rang and berated my friend unrelentingly until my friend had no option but to end the call with the mother still in full flight.

All three of these incidents have been really stressful for the people concerned. I’m standing on the sidelines, looking at all of this and thinking, “Do I really want to hang around, waiting until the axe falls? By the law of averages, sooner or later something is bound to happen to me. Do I keep taking CRT days at a lesser rate than I have been, or should I bow out now, by finishing up this 3 days/week contract with 3 beautiful classes which are all a joy to teach?”

All I know at this stage is that I’ve worked A LOT over the last 18 months. I haven’t wasted a dollar of the money I’ve earned – over 60K in my pocket. Every dollar has gone towards a project – the big ones being Tom31’s mortgage; David29’s wedding; Evan26’s Clown College; Ryan28’s medical expenses and finally – my trip to the UK.

I’ve helped the school in the midst of a huge teacher shortage and incidentally, avoided raiding my share portfolios to help the kids at a time when the stock market was down. (Thus avoiding Sequence of Returns Risk.)

Working was a sensible decision 18 months ago, but how is it serving me now? I’ll be doing some serious thinking when I come back.

Where I’ve been: At the chicken shop.

Before I fly off to London, I need to buy and freeze enough chicken necks – in groups of 3 – to last for the little woofs’ breakfasts for 5 weeks. I’m doing them in batches; it’s not a pleasant job.

Where I’m going: The UK in under two weeks.

I’ve had Whatsapp conversations during the week with James from Ireland and Corinna from London about what we’re going to be doing while I’m over there. Chatting with them has really brought home how close this holiday is getting. I’m so lucky to have 4 really fantastic people (Scott and Deana as well) who are giving up their time and in some cases, their couches, to show me around.

What I’m reading: Mortal Engines – Philip Reeve.

I haven’t read a lot of Steampunk fiction, so after seeing the movie on Netflix I thought I’d give the novel a try. Turns out there are 4 in the series, so I might be plunging into this futuristic world where cities move around for a while longer.

What I’m watching: THE BLACKLIST!

I was sure The Blacklist had finally stuttered to a close after season 9, but like the crazy optimist I am, I left it on my Netflix list. Imagine my happiness when out of nowhere, season 10 popped up. I’ve only watched 3 or 4 episodes so far, but I really like the direction the writers are taking. The character of Raymond Reddington is oddly charming and even though the show is very silly, I still really enjoy it.

Of course, The Block takes precedence over everything else. Just as it should!

What I’m listening to: a podcast interview with Stephen King.

Stephen King posted a link to this interview on Twitter, saying that he enjoyed the chat very much. Intrigued, I made sure that I listened to it.

I’ve read a lot of his novels, some were not that great, most were entertaining reading and a few are books that I will never ever forget. When he’s good, he’s the best.

His book ‘On Writing‘ is one of the best books on this topic that I’ve ever read. It’s one of the books that has survived cull after cull from my bookshelves, along with ‘The Stand.’ I threw out ‘The Tommyknockers’ a week ago. I hung onto this bloated novel for a couple of decades. The first hundred pages or so are BORING and should’ve been ruthlessly edited, but after that, the plot really takes off and the ending literally made me cry.

The Bachman books include The Running Man (and to no one’s surprise, the story is much better than the movie) and one of the most haunting stories I’ve ever read – The Long Walk. I will never let these stories go.

The podcast is about the horror genre and the guy hosting is a massive King geek. The conversation they had was really interesting and ranged all over the place. I can highly recommend.

What I’m eating: Anything from the freezers.

I’m trying to eat as much as we can from the freezers before I leave. After all, I bought it so I should get the benefit from it! I know Ryan28 is planning to forage for food from the pantry and freezers as much as he can when I’m gone, so I don’t want to make life TOO easy for him!

What I’m planning: What to do on my free days in London.

I have 3 free days on my calendar. So many choices! So much to do!

I have to say, it’s a lovely problem to have.

Who needs a fist bump: James from Dublin.

I was expecting to have to get off the plane mid-afternoon and trundle around Dublin in the afternoon on my own, seeing the sights, before jumping on a train and heading up to James’ place.

But no! He’s chucking a sickie for a couple of days and is picking me up at the airport! How lovely is that? I’m so excited – we’re going to have so much fun.

What has made me smile: Ryan28.

I was Home Alone over the weekend as Ryan28 was in town at some Melee tournaments. He plays Peach. On Monday night I was sitting on the couch and he came into the kitchen. I mentioned that I was feeling a bit cold and I’d get my dressing gown when Jeffrey decided to move off my lap.

Without a word, he slipped into my room and grabbed the dressing gown, handing it to me as we were still on the couch. Jeff didn’t have to move and I was warm.

He’s a great housemate to have.

Dad joke of the day:

Wednesday W’s #78.

What’s top of my mind:
Making sure everything I need to do is ticked off before I go.

Monday night after work I took the dogs to the vet to get medications for Jeffrey to last for the time I’ll be gone. He’s on prednisolone for his grass allergies and on a heart pill. Poppy and Jeff also got anti-arthritis injections and they all had their claws clipped. The cavaliers were perfectly behaved (of course) while the vet nurse was clipping their toenails, but Scout protested this indignity. Once, she yelled and the vet nurse said, “I’m not even touching you!”

I’ve got all of the raw meat patties and dry food that they’ll need. All I have to do for the dogs is give them a good grooming session and freeze enough chicken necks for their breakfasts. Then they’ll be ticked off my mental list. Obviously the little woofs are the most important consideration.

I have to get out my bag and start putting my Merino and Antarctic warm clothes in it. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m doing a 100 days challenge with a Wool& dress, which will be my only outfit for my trip. I’m currently on day 47, so I’m almost halfway there. I want to save as much space and weight as I can, so I can buy at least a few souvenirs. I love the mementos I currently have around the place from my previous trips. They make me happy.

My main worry with my luggage is that I’m only taking a carry-on, so II have to ensure that I don’t go over the weight. Some airlines weigh carry-on, others don’t, and you never know what you’re going to get until you’re at the airport. I have a feeling I might be posting souvenirs back home… (like I did last time.)

I still have gaps of time to fill in my itinerary – I haven’t even touched the 2 days in the Dublin area that I’ll be spending with James from the North Korea trip. Any Dublin suggestions will be gratefully received. I’m sure that there are Oscar Wilde things to see, but apart from that I haven’t looked into it yet.

My goal is to do at least one action a day between now and when I go so that everything will be covered before I leave.

Where I’ve been: to work. And Ikea.

I’ve decided that if my house is worth 1M+, then it should look like it. So after a couple of very expensive trips to Ikea, Ryan28 is slowly putting the flatpacks together to make my sewing room and the Man Cave look like adult people are living here.

He’s doing a fantastic job. We went on the shopping trips together, which was a great decision because he thought of things that I wouldn’t, and vice versa. I have the vision and he has the practical smarts to make it work. It’s 4K that I wasn’t intending on spending this year, but it’s already making me happy every time I look at what Ryan28 has already built.

And yeah. Work. Less than 3 weeks to go before this contract finishes. I’ve been picking up an extra day or two of CRT each week, but I’m going to stop doing that. I’m getting tired and I want to have the time to get things done around here before I leave the place for 5 weeks.

Where I’m going: to Newport to see Evan26!

Yes, my Clown College boy is back. He flew in on Monday and tomorrow I’ll be driving to see him to hear all of the stories. Unlike my trip, where I’m slotting in activities for every day, he and his mate had a vague idea of where they were wanting to travel after their clowning course finished, which ended up being totally upended when they decided to fly to Edinburgh and see as many Comedy Festival shows as they could.

So, for them, I guess it turned out to be a working holiday after all. What a wonderful thing it is to be so youthful and able to be so flexible about your plans! And he only asked me for a financial top-up 3 days before he was due to fly home. Frankly, I’m amazed he made his money last for so long! Maybe those years of growing up in an ultra-frugal household has taught him money-stretching lessons after all.

What I’m reading: Nothing.

I know! This never happens. I’m just focused on getting my trip organised.

What I’m watching: ‘The Block’ on free-to-air. ‘Domina’ and ‘Ru Paul Down Under’ on Stan and a smattering of other shows.

I think I’m going to save the two ‘Walking Dead’ spinoffs on Stan for when I get back. Looking at zombies will help to ground me after my trip.

What I’m listening to: Dark Matter.

This book was chosen by my local library as their book club read for the month. I’m listening to it on audiobook and it’s INFURIATING. The actual premise is great – it’s playing with the idea of finding your way through a multiverse where every decision you make splits off another world, which of course means there are gazillions of worlds existing independently side by side. Some are very similar to ours, while others are vastly different.

So far so good. But the protagonist is so annoying. He waffles and second-guesses himself and the dialogue is sometimes UGH. But then, just when I’m about to cut my losses and return the audiobook to the library, the story suddenly takes off.

“At last!” I cry as I’m behind the wheel. “Finally, I’m interested!” And then after a while the plot stalls again…

This is a rinse-and-repeat situation. I have 20 minutes to go.

I hope I have a few podcasts banked up. They’re sure to be more entertaining than this book has turned out to be.

What I’m eating: Food.

I’m trying to eat down the freezer, pantry and zombie apocalypse cupboard before I go. So we’re not eating anything wildly different.

What I’m planning: What to do in London.

I’m booking things and sliding them into chunks of time. It’s funny – before I started doing this I thought, “9 days straight in London! Woo hoo! I have heaps of time.” I’ll be able to see everything I want.

Um… no I don’t.

And no I can’t.

But I’m going to give it a red hot go.

Who needs a fist bump: Whoever decided to put this hideous clown in Costco.

Imagine how many terrified children will develop clown phobias after seeing these things on Halloween? It’s taller than I am.

I sent this photo to Evan26while he was still overseas and he replied, “That’s MEEEE!”

What has made me smile: Deana.

My friend Deana and I met when I went to the UK back in 2015. I shared on the frogblog that I was going and she sent me an email, introducing herself and saying that she’d been reading the blog for years and offering to host me for a few days.

She promised that she wasn’t an axe murderer, so I accepted her offer. After all, why would she lie?

We hit it off immediately. She’s the very definition of an English rose. We saw Jane Austen’s House, Anne Boleyn’s childhood home at Hever Castle, and Canterbury Cathedral. It was marvelous.

Now that I’m coming back, I’m spending another few days with her. She’s also agreed to pop up to central London for a day to gallop around with me. It’ll be lovely to share my experiences with someone. 🙂

Dad joke of the day:

Wednesday W’s #77.

What’s top of my mind:
How to spend my days in London.

Now that I’ve brought my trip forward by 3 days, I have what seems to be eleventy billion days that I’m free to wander around London. For a history buff like me, the problem of how to fill the days is a wonderful problem to have.

At work, I’m currently between bouts of marking and my geography kids are working on a project that’s requiring minimal input from me, (unless they have a problem), so on Monday It Began.

A few weeks ago on Wednesday W’s #66, a wonderful woman named Catrin commented, giving me 2 really helpful links. I’ve spent the last couple of days down the rabbit hole, exploring links and seeing what’s out there. When I was in London last time, Scott and I spent a week there and he made sure we saw all of the “major” things. Now it’s time to look for the other nooks and crannies of interesting places.

Where I’ve been: to Costco.

The little woofs now have enough raw meat patties to last from now until I come back. That’s one job off my mind!

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

I’ve known Ian since Evan26 was Evan2. Every now and then we catch up and see what’s happening in each other’s lives. It’s nice. I have a very few friends that have been with me for decades and he’s one of them.

What I’m reading: a couple of books.

They’re both a bit ‘meh’. I’ll finish reading them, because I’m the kind of reader who has to see how a story pans out, but they’re not wonderful enough for a full book review, or so bad that I’d warn you to stay away.

What I’m watching: ‘The Block’ is back!

I love this show. This year the 5 houses being renovated are a stone’s throw from where I grew up and where my parents still live. A few months ago I actually saw one of the Nlock cars when I was driving to their place after work. Exciting!

I’m absolutely dreading al the catch-up yv I’ll have to watch wen I get back from my trip, but then again, it’ll be the perfect show to binge while I’m getting over jet lag.

What I’m listening to: Scout barking horribly.

She’s such a dibber-dobber. We have some long hall tables that we’re selling and at the moment they’re pushed behind one of the couches in the loungeroom. Jeffrey’s found that he can jump up on the couch, and then sit on the tables. He’s very proud of himself, but Scout knows that he’s doing the wrong thing, so she gets my attention.

Plus she hates him, so she loves to get him in trouble.

What I’m eating: Leftover roast pork.

We had David29 and Izzy over for lunch on Sunday to watch ‘Terminator 2’. We had the whole roast lunch, then she saw the movie. She enjoyed it, but said that it was too long.

What I’m planning: Did I mention that I’m going to the UK and Ireland soon?

I’m beginning to realise that this holiday is nearly upon me…

Who needs a fist bump: Corinna, Deana and James.

How lovely that they’re allowing me to crash at theirs. People are so lovely.

What has made me smile: Scout turned 7 today.

Look at that photo. She looks as if she’s contemplating the fact that she’s gone around the sun yet again.

She’s a big girl now. But she’s still my baby.

Dad joke of the day:

Wednesday W’s #76.

What’s top of my mind
: I have my house back!

The painters have finished the job, packed their things, and are gone. We had to wait a day to let the paint dry, then on Sunday we were able to move things back to where they belong.

Without having anything touch the skirting boards, of course!

When we started, Ryan28 asked the $64,000 question: “Are you going to get rid of the bookcases or will we put the books back in them?”

I have 3 large bookcases. Two were bought back before A and I were even married, so they’ve been with me for around 40 years. Yikes! They’re pine and are very dark and very heavy.

The other one is a dark brown Billy bookcase from Ikea that I bought when we moved into the old house, roughly 27 years ago.

I think I’ve had my money’s worth.

Now that the house has crisp, white trims and ceilings, I’m getting crisp, white shelving for both the sewing room and the Man Cave. It’ll solve the lack of storage this house struggles with and it’ll lift the rooms.

Ah, it’s only money…!

Where I’ve been: Moving furniture.

Thank goodness I have Ryan28 living with me. We got almost the whole house back to normal in an afternoon. No way I could’ve done that on my own.

On another note: I thought we were pretty minimalistic, seeing as this is a house without a heap of storage. Turns out we have quite a few things that, once unearthed, will be making their way out into the world to find new homes.

Where I’m going: to the op shop.

There are a couple of boxes of books and knick-knacks in the back of my car, ready to be dropped off. I’ve decided that it’s time for my book collection to go through a culling. I do that every few years, but with my library challenge to earn my council rates back, I haven’t been buying books for the last 4 years.

Still, I’ve noticed a few books lurking innocently beside the Jane Austens that I’ll never read again. Time to release them.

What I’m reading: Lenny Marks Gets Away With Murder – Kerryn Mayne

I finished this novel on the weekend and I absolutely loved it. This is Kerryn Mayne’s debut novel, and if this is any indication of what she’s going to produce, I can’t wait to see what she writes next.

It’s set in the Dandenongs, which are just up the road from Melbourne. The plot is engaging and the protagonist, though flawed, is someone who you can really get behind. It’s a page-turner.

I thoroughly recommend this book.

What I’m watching: year 8 kids finishing a project.

They’re a geography class and they’ve done mapping overlays, where they trace a map of Australia on a couple of pieces of tracing paper and then put different information on them.

The base map has population; the next map has rainfall distribution and the third map has geographic info, the most important being the Great Dividing Range.

I’m learning a lot by staying one step ahead of the kids. Today I learned what a ‘Rain Shadow’ is.

What I’m listening to: people gossiping in the staff common room.

Football is really important to these people. I don’t understand it.

But then, I’m a Carlton supporter. For the last few decades, it’s been easier just to pretend that footie doesn’t exist…

What I’m eating: Leftovers for lunch!

I made a really nice chicken casserole on Saturday and there was enough left over for meals for all 3 days I’m at work. Fortunate Frogdancer strikes again with another frugal win!

I haven’t bought my lunh for the entire time I’ve been teaching here. As I say to kids who ask me for money when I’m doing canteen duty, ” I come here to earn money, not spend it!”

What I’m planning: A trip next year.

A friend from work is taking Long Service Leave next year and has asked me if I want to go to South America with her. It definitely wasn’t what I was planning, but I’m thinking about it.

Some of the people from my Antarctica trip extended their travels after we came back. Their photos and videos were impressive.

Who needs a high five: My painters.

They finished my whole house in just under two weeks. They installed two door stoppers for the back bathroom and toilet free of charge, so the doors wouldn’t bash into the walls. They repaired two doors that weren’t working properly, modified a door handle so it would fit onto my pantry door, AND when I noticed a paint drip that had dried on one of the walls after they’d packed up and finished, he came back three days later to fix it.

I’ve stopped feeling guilty about getting a painter in to do the job. They did it far quicker and far more efficiently than I would have.

What has made me smile: The fresh new rooms.

When I first moved to The Best House in Melbourne 7 years ago, I loved that the paint was the same colour everywhere. It was a change from every house that I’ve lived in before.

Now? I’m LOVING the clean contract of the different colours.

It’s also a nice little luxury to have the skirts painted in gloss, so I can clean them easily. It’s been awful having everything in matte.

Dad joke of the day:

Wednesday W’s #75.

What’s top of my mind:
Half the house is painted!

It took 5 days and they’ve finished my half of the house. I’m really pleased with how it looks – and I’m even more pleased that I wasn’t the one doing the work. PLease excuse how the room looks – it has the back half of the house crammed into it while the painters finish the job.

You can see how the wall behind my Harndorff painting is the same as the vase in the painting. It took me ages to settle on a colour and I’m so relieved that it looks great.

Once the plantation shutters go in, it’ll look incredible.

Yes, last week I was waiting on the quote for the shutters. Everyone says how expensive they are, so I was expecting a quote anywhere from 12K – 15K. Instead, it came in at $6,700. I was so happy.

Life here has been hideous, though. I’ve discovered I’m a grumpy old woman if I can’t sit on my couch or have everything where I like it to be. I was so happy on Sunday when Ryan28 and I were able to move everything back in.

Then on Monday I came home from work to find that all of Ryan28’s stuff, plus everything from the laundry, bathroom and Man Cave was now in my space.


Where I’ve been: Living in the guest room.

I’ve never slept in the guest room or guest bed before. I’m pleased to report that the bed is comfy and the view outside the glass sliding door looks lush and green. The dogs and I had early nights because, without heating, temperatures in Melbourne plummet. We spent 4 nights curled up under the doona, watching Netflix on my laptop.

Wasn’t too bad, actually.

Where I’m going: to work to avoid the disruption at home.

Turns out I’d rather be out earning money and dealing with the shenanigans of teenagers rather than sit among piles of my son’s belongings.

What I’m reading: One of the best books I’ve read in a month of Sundays.

‘Here be Leviathons’ by Chris Flynn is a collection of short stories by an Australian author. He lives just down the road on Phillip Island, apparently. It’s one of the most original things I’ve ever read… and you people know that I read A LOT.

It was random chance that I even picked it up. I was racing out the door on my first day of term and I realised that I didn’t have an eBook to take to class for wide reading. I fired up the iPad and dove into Borrowbox from my library. I was in a rush and this was the first book that looked enticing.

WHAT A FIND! After getting into the first story, I was tempted to make all 48 minutes of every class I taught become wide reading, instead of just the first 10 minutes.

What I’m watching: The Blues Brothers!

Izzy has never seen The Blues Brothers. Can you believe it? So we set a date and on Monday night she and David29 came over to watch it with us. The lounge was stacked with everything from the other side of the house but we all crammed in and made it work.

What I’m listening to: Evan26 telling me about France and Colown College.

Last night Evan26 rang from France and we had a lovely 20 minutes or so catching up on all the goss.

You know, it’s lovely when one of your adult children enjoys something as much as you do. Travel is something that I’m sure Evan26 will be doing more of.

What I’m eating: Medication to hopefully make my chronic cough less severe.

I’ve had a cough for the last 8 years or so. A couple of weeks ago I went back to my ENT guy. Turns out I could’ve been taking these pills for a while now. Better late than never, I guess.

What I’m planning: Things to do in the UK.

Scott, Deanna, and I have been sending links to various things between each other. Doesn’t look as if I’ll be bored while I’m there.

Who needs a fist bump: My Painters.

I’ve been meaning to hire a handyman to fix some doors and do a couple of other minor repairs around the place. The painter has fixed them all. Saved me a bit of money and aggravation.

I’m really happy with their work. Those straight lines! Those smooth doors!

What has made me smile: My new walls.

I love them; even the colours that we chose in a rush. Such a relief! My house has a totally different feel now that it’s not all beige.

Dad joke of the day:

Wednesday W’s #74. On a Thursday.

What’s top of my mind:
A lot can happen in a week.

Look at my breakfast out on the back verandah. It’s calm and peaceful. Did I choose to have breakfast out here of my own free will? No. I’m here because there’s absolutely nowhere else to go, unless I want to have breakfast on the guest bed. And for overseas people, yes. That’s Vegemite on my bread roll.

During this past week, I’ve hired a painter and he and his dad are on their second day here. Everything from my half of the house has been either moved into the Man Cave or is wrapped in plastic to avoid paint splatters.

I won’t lie – I hoped that the quote would be lower. But then again, don’t we feel that way about any tradie job we have done? Painting the interior of my 4 bedroom, 2BR, 2 living areas house is $9,600.

I hoped my 8 weeks of 3 days’ work would have covered it, but sadly, no. I’m thinking that my work in term 1 will MORE than pay for my upcoming trip to the UK, so I’ll dip into that to pay for the painting in full. (Of course, I don’t have to earn the money for projects like this. But I like to do it – I find it motivating – except when my alarm goes off each workday.)

Where I’ve been: to Bunnings.

So I hired the painter on Sunday. He said that he needed the paint colours by Monday night.

Jesus! It took me 6 months to decide on the duck-egg blue for the lounge/kitchen/dining area. I was in a state of panic.

After work on Monday, I raced to Bunnings and grabbed paint chips. I decided that seeing as I was going with a bold colour in the main part of the house, the rest of the place should be neutral.

I came home to find emptiness. It looked like we’d been burgled. Ryan28 had been busy moving everything he could out into the Man Cave.

I showed him the paint chips. Turns out he’s MUCH more decisive about colours than I am. Within 5 minutes he had it all sorted.

When the painter turned up on Wednesday to begin painting, he suggested that if I was going to replace door handles, I should do it now. Back to Bunnings I went!

I needed 10 sets of door handles and I wanted them all the same. Bunnings only had one type available with 10. They’re similar to the ones we already have, so I bought them.

Ah well. It’s only money. A day’s work will pay for them.

I can see my CRT days stretching out into the future as I speak…

Where I’m going: to the library.

I’ll wander up later and return some books and grab some new ones.

What I’m reading: Graham Norton.

I’m reading through his novels at the moment. Obviously he’s got the gift of the gab, as we see on his talk show, but this means that he’s a very good writer as well. I’m enjoying his books a lot.

What I’m watching: NOTHING.

We gave our second tv in the Man Cave to David29 and Izzy. When I came home I saw my tv swathed in plastic. No real hardship. I was really tired after talking with Evan26 at 4 in the morning, so I curled up in the guest bed with a book and was lights out by 9.

What I’m listening to: snoring dogs.

The dogs absolutely refuse to curl up and go to sleep if I’m not in the same room with them. We’re all on the bed in the guest bedroom and they’re finally relaxed.

It’s very flattering to have velcro dogs but sometimes it’s a pain. The piteous whines coming from the guest room as I was talking with tradies was a bit embarrassing.

What I’m eating: Anything that doesn’t mess up the kitchen.

It’s amazing how conscious I’ve become about how many things we use, now that most of them are out of the kitchen and are shoved in the Man Cave and laundry.

What I’m planning: Plantation Shutters.

The guy from a Plantation Shutters company just left. He’s measured every window in the place and will send me a quote this afternoon. He tried to upsell me to get the back toilet, laundry and bathroom windows done as well, but I wasn’t going to budge on those. I never look at them, after all!

They quote on the square meterage of each window. Lucky me to have 3 MASSIVE floor-to-ceiling windows! The prices go up depending on how quickly you want them delivered. I have outdoor shutters, so I said I wasn’t in a rush. Anything to help keep the cost down is fine by me.

I’m still going to need a cup of tea and a little lie-down when I see the quote. Everyone who has shutters says that they adore them, but they felt a bit queasy when they had to actually pay for them.

Who needs a thumbs up: Evan26 for FINALLY contacting me about Clown College.

Sometimes I wake in the middle of the night and grab my laptop if I can’t drop straight back to sleep. Two nights ago, there was Evan26 on Messenger, sending me a series of voicemails. It was terrific!

He’s obviously having the time of his life. He raved about his classes, told a couple of stories about the grumpy old Fench clown teacher and said that learning French for two years in secondary school has come in handy. He’s the guy who orders everyone’s drinks at the pub.

He’s in the morning class, which is fortunate because the afternoon class has SEVEN people out with covid. He said that they’re avoiding them like the plague, except for one guy who had lunch with a covid+ person. and Instagrammed about it. (An American, of course.) Now everyone is trying to avoid getting too close to that person. I mean, why on earth would you risk losing time out of a once-in-a-lifetime experience?

What has made me smile: Seeing those drop sheets go down.

After my shower this morning, I came out of Ryan28’s bathroom to see the drop sheets down and that painting had commenced!!

I asked how long they thought they’d be and was told that they should be finished with my side of the house by Saturday or Sunday. Two days to get all the furniture rearranged and then they’d be back to get the second half of the house done.

Quicker than I feared! Definitely a lot quicker than I would have done.

Dad joke of the day:

Wednesday W’s #73.

What’s top of my mind:
Good friends are wonderful.

Long-time readers of my personal blog will know that when I went to the UK and Europe in 2015, my excellent friend Scott, who used to work with me until he and his husband upped stakes and moved to England, travelled around with me for much of the time and planned my itinerary for me for the whole 9 weeks.

It was the BEST holiday I’e ever had. Well… Antarctica??? No, it’s unfair to compare the pair. they were both so different.

Anyway, now that I’ll be back in the Uk for 37 days in September/October this year, we’ve arranged to spend the last week together, touring around Essex and looking at all THE HISTORY. (I love how I wrote “we’ve” arranged. Scott is the organised one.) We left it to the end because he was booked on a Rhine River cruise when I was due to arrive.

Anyway, last night, just as I was about to close the laptop after a frustrating stint of Spider Solitaire and go to sleep, I receive a message from Scott, asking if I’ve organised any activities with Corinna from Antarctica during the weekdays I’m in London.

No, I replied. We’re going to Windsor Castle on the Saturday so I can stand on Henry VIII’s grave, and I think we’re seeing an interactive art show on the Sunday night, but that’s all we’ve booked in.

Then I get this message:

I scrambled out of bed and grabbed my itinerary, because I had an awful feeling that I was arriving in London on the day after. But NO! Because we in Australia are living in the future, by jumping on a plane on my birthday and travelling to London, I get to have TWO birthdays.

I was so excited. In fact, I still am. We’re going to have a sumptuous lunch and do a sightseeing activity (unknown as yet. Gee, if only I knew an organised person who knows the sorts of things I like to do and see…haha!)

While I was messaging Scott on the laptop being all excited, I was frantically scrolling through Whatsapp on my phone to find my conversation with Corinna, because I had an awful feeling in the pit of my stomach that I might have told her I was arriving on the day after I actually am.

As it turned out, yes, I did. WHAT an idiot I am. I hastily messaged her. She’s coming back from Italy either the day before I arrive or the day of. So I might not get to see her in the morning when I land, but that’s ok. Scott suggested I stash my bag in a luggage thingy at the station before we head off for the day.

I was having a bit of a ‘down’ day yesterday, which is unlike me. But this perked me up big time! Good friends are the best thing on earth.

Where I’ve been: to the throat specialist.

I’ve had a chronic cough for the last 7 or 8 years. Just before my trip to North Korea in 2018 I went to the best throat specialist in the state and he sent me off to a speech pathologist who gave me some exercises to try and de-sensitise the nerve in my throat that is giving me grief. They didn’t work.

So I’ve been soldiering on since then, coughing hundreds of times each day, sipping water (drops of peppermint oil in it when I’m having a bad day) and chewing gum. When one of the assistant principals at work heard me coughing and came rushing around the desks to see who was choking, I decided I had to go back and see if there was anything else that could be done.

Turns out there is. Yesterday I was given pills to disrupt the nerve that is sending the cough signals to my brain all the time. I have to wean myself on them, but hopefully by the time I go on my trip, my cough should be pretty much under control.

Where I’m going: To Mornington to pick up the title to my house.

I paid for The Best House in Melbourne years ago, but I left the title at the conveyancer. Lazy, I know. I’d put “Get the title” at the back of my mind until someone at work said that they couldn’t find the title to their house when they wanted to sell it and it cost them 1K to get a replacement.


Suddenly it sped to the top of my ‘to do’ list.

What I’m reading: The Far Land – Presser.

This sounds really interesting. It’s all about what happened during the mutiny on the Bounty and then how the mutineers lived on Pitcairn Island. It’s non-fiction but written like a story, so it’s easy to get into.

I was seized with a desire to go to Pitcairn Island but when I read that you have to be there for months before the next ship comes by, I decided I could live without seeing it.

What I’m watching: Poppy, Jeff and Scout sleeping on the couch.

It’s freezing, so I turned on the split system and the dogs are happily snoozing away. Jeff has positioned himself directly under where the warm air comes out. I always say that he’s as dumb as a box of bricks, but maybe I’ve misjudged him…?

What I’m listening to: Mum’s Boppin’ Bangers.

After living in silence for a week and a half during the holidays, I’ve reached the stage of wanting to hear noise during the day again. Spotify is such a nice little luxury!

What I’m eating: a roast dinner.

David29 and Izzy are coming over tonight for dinner, so they can have a look at the photobook I ordered from Snapfish of their wedding. Izzy is lactose-intolerant and a roast is the easiest way to feed them a hearty meal without making her feel queasy.

What I’m planning: to hire a house painter.


I’ve done the first coat of paint in my ensuite and I HATED doing it. I was utterly miserable and since then I haven’t been able to bring myself to lift a brush or roller.

The woman across the road gave me the number of the painter she used and was very happy with, so I’ve given him a call and he’ll pop around to give me a quote.

If his prices are reasonable, I might even bite the bullet and get him to do the whole house. The paint job that the previous owners did to sell the house is WELL past its use-by date.

I felt really guilty about deciding to spend the money on a painter. After all, painting isn’t hard. But the last time I painted was over 20 years ago in the old house. I guess time has moved on…

Who needs a good slap: ME.

For not looking at my itinerary correctly the first time. Again – WHAT an idiot!

What has made me smile: Seeing my sister’s Airbnb apartment.

For months, my sister and brother-in-law have been changing the second floor of their beautiful house into a self-contained apartment that they plan to rent out to holiday-makers. Kate has put so much work into this project and it’s looking amazing. Only a few more finishing touches to do and then it’ll be open for business!

Dad joke of the day:

Wednesday W’s #72.

What’s top of my mind:
Evan26 is on his way to Clown College!

Yes, as I type this he and his friend Will are in the plane on the last leg of their journey. They broke their flight in Vietnam, of all places. I’ve never heard of that before. Singapore and Dubai, yes, but Vietnam?

I really hope that they have a rewarding and wonderful couple of months.

Where I’ve been: on Ryan28’s massage table.

Remember when I took Scout to the Guinness Book of Records attempt and she refused to walk? Turns out I pulled a ligament in my right shoulder by carrying her around. After a week of pain, I got Ryan28 to look at it and he was able to put it back in place.

So no painting has been done, but on the bright side – I’ve read some terrific books!

Where I’m going: Nowhere.

Thank God. I’m just wanting to sit here in my own house with my own dogs and chill.

What I’m reading: The Running Club – Lowe.

This book is excellent. I read it in a day – I couldn’t leave it alone. This is the second novel this author has written and they’re both really good. Highly recommend.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – Shaffer

Yes, yes, I know I’m REALLY late to the party with this one. It’s one of those books you hear about but never quite get around to picking up. (Or is that just me?) Anyway, I really enjoyed it. As soon as I finished it, I watched the movie (on Stan, for Aussie readers.) It isn’t as good as the book – it particularly rushes the beginning – but it was ok.

What I’m watching: Black Mirror series 6.

I finally finished ‘Z Nation’ … what a stupid show that ended up becoming… and rather than jump straight into the ‘Walking Dead’ sequel, I decided to catch up on some Black Mittor action. I’m enjoying it.

What I’m listening to: The dishwasher.

Since I got the PowerPal thingy from the state government that measures your electricity use in real time, I’ve been making much more use of my solar panels by running things during the day when at all possible. I never would have guessed, for example, that an Eco-Wash on the dishwasher that takes 3 hours to run is far cheaper to pay for than a quick 60 minute wash.

Now that the cost of gas and electricity is soaring, we’re doing the experiment of using our split systems to heat the house during winter, rather than using the gas ducted heating that heats the entire house. I’m interested to see if we come out ahead from the previous years’ costs during winter.

What I’m eating: Not enough. I’m hungry.

Now that I look at the time, it’s just about lunchtime.

What I’m planning: A wedding book.

David29 and Izzy got their photos back from the wedding. I’ve downloaded enough to put into a wedding album on Snapfish. A woman I’ve “known” for years from the Simple Savings forum (Hi Sandra!) put me onto them.

As a welcome to Snapfish signup, I also have the offer of 50 free prints. This s great, because Mum wanted some photos but was worried about how much they’d cost. She’ll be happy when I tell her that they’re a freebie.

Who deserves a high five: Ryan28 for fixing my shoulder.

It’s handy to have a remedial masseur in the family!

What has made me smile: Going through the wedding photos.

You know, try as I may to avoid it, I can’t help feeling fond of my boys and the partners they’ve chosen. Seeing David29 and Izzy so very happy and so much in love makes even this hardened old heart melt a little.

Dad joke of the day:

Wednesday W’s #71.

What’s top of my mind:
Travel to North America.

Corey, one of the teachers at work, knows that I’m thinking about going to Canada next year. He told me that as of yesterday, airfares had dropped from 3K to 1.8K.

I have no idea when I want to go, but I’m thinking that maybe I should get organised and book a ticket???

Where I’ve been: Evan26 and Jenna’s place.

Yesterday Ryan28 had an appointment in the same street that Evan26 and Izzy live, so I thought I’d go with him and drop in for a coffee while I waited. I tried to contact them the day before, but they didn’t answer their phones.

When I got there at 9:30AM, no one answered the door. In the end, I sent a photo of their front door to them both and waited in the car for Ryan28 instead.

Turns out that they were at a wedding in Healesville and the guests’ phones had all been taken off them!

Where I’m going: David29 and Izzy’s place.

All of us are going over to the apartment for dinner to watch the wedding video and see the photos.

Mum wants me to order a photo to put in a frame for her, and I’d like to have one of those too.

It’ll be lovely to have us all together, particularly as it’s the last time we’ll see Evan26 before he flies off for Clown College in France.

What I’m reading: Tales from the Cafe; Before the coffee goes cold – Kawaguchi

I picked this up at the library from the ‘Quick Reads’ shelf, which is a selection of popular books that you only have 2 weeks to read – no extensions! It”s a collection of short stories, all set in a cafe in Tokyo where, if you are very lucky, you can travel through time from.

As the title suggests, you only have the duration of when your piping hot coffee is poured until it goes cold. I thought this was a stand-alone, but it turns out that it’s the middle of three. I’ve ordered the other two, happy that I’ll get to spend more time in this world.

What I’m watching: A class of year 9s working in silence on a poem.

They have to write a 16-line poem, using at least 5 poetic devices and relating it back to a poem they’ve studied in class. They then have to do an oral presentation on their poem, reading it aloud to the class and then talking about why they’ve chosen the words they have.

I used to teach this unit when I was a real teacher and some of the poems the kids came up with were extraordinary. Definitely a favourite Learning Task for the year 9 course.

What I’m listening to: ‘Fight Like a Girl ‘by Clementine Ford.

I’m late to the party with this one. This is the first book written by Ms Ford, a feminist content creator from Melbourne. It’s fair to say that she’s known for not taking prisoners and definitely for not putting up with patriarchal crap.

I’m about an hour into this audiobook so far. Am I enjoying it? I’m a little on the fence. She undoubtedly has extremely valid points to make. I’m just a bit worried that it’s going to be a bit repetitive. Anyway, time will tell!

What I’m eating: Takeaway pizza.

Apparently, this is on the menu for tonight.

What I’m planning: London activities.

Now that I’ve stopped working so much, I’ve started thinking about what I’m going to be doing on my trip away in a couple of months. I’ll be spending a couple of days on my own in London while Corinna’s at work, so I’m starting to mull over what I could be doing.

Who deserves a thumbs up: This class I’m in front of.

They are almost totally silent, working away. This class was one of the ones I taught Geography to last year, when they were naughty little year 8s.

Maybe maturity has started to settle in?

What has made me smile: I got my Wool& dress yesterday!

Ryan28 and I came home from a morning away and there it was, waiting by the front door! I was so excited, and a little bit nervous. This is the one outfit I’m planning to take with me to the UK and I was petrified that it wouldn’t fit properly.

Thankfully, it all looks good. I’m now deciding whether or not I’ll do the 100 Days Challenge or not. If I do it, I’ll have to start on July 1 in order to finish it on the day I get back from the UK.

I chose the Sierra dress in grey. I figured that it would be easier to dress in such a neutral colour when I was away. Anyway, nobody cares what I wear, anyway!

Dad joke of the day:

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