Skinflint Sunday: Stay in for fun fun fun!

This greeted me when I left work on Wednesday. Surprisingly, no note had been left. It’s going to cost me 1K to get it fixed, so suddenly getting to work by public transport has become the cheapest option.

The car’s getting fixed on Tuesday, so until then it’s sitting in my driveway while I take the train to work and stay at home on the weekend. I decided to try getting to my destination station before 7:15AM because then the trip is free. If I can get to work and back every day for only $3…. BARGAIN!!!! (Of course, now that the mornings are getting light again, this is quite pleasant. Not sure how I’ll go in the middle of winter…) If I’m able to do it 5 days a week….ok… that’s a big “if” … but IF I’m able to leave the house at 6:30AM every morning, then that’s $60 a month I’ll be saving on transportation costs. $150 a term. $600 a year. I guess it all proves that the small things really DO add up.

Poor Poppy. Whenever she reaches the ball first at the beach, Scout “helps” bring it back by biting Poppy’s ear and then dragging on it all the way back. This happens a fair bit, as Poppy’s longer legs simply cover more ground.

Scout’s found a way to keep the ball away from Poppy…

My sister and BIL came over yesterday to start planning out the whats, whens and wherefores of the big deck I want to put in the backyard. So many decisions! What sort of roof? Where will the fan go? Do I pave or get a deck? Do I put a veggie garden in before or after this project? (During is apparently going to be easier overall, but of course more costly in the short-term.) The size of the area I’m looking at is 10m X 6m, so it’s quite substantial. Where will the couches go? Where will the table go? Do we put a barbie in? Do we use the one Scott and Mark gave us, or do we get a Space Grill?  Do we include heating as well? *sigh*

Decisions, decisions.

Evan21 turned 21 today. He was nice enough to send me an invite on Facebook for the party he’s having at my place next Friday night… it was news to me but that’s ok. Fortunately I’m fond of him.

Financial post: Choose FI: The Milestones of FI  I discovered this podcast a week ago and downloaded all of the episodes that weren’t US-centric. I’m loving it. This ep was a good one, as they talk about all the ways you can measure your progress towards Financial Independence.

 

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Posted in backyard beach, Children., Quality of life, Skinflint, wicking beds | 3 Comments

Happy birthday to me!

Another year has passed at the Frogdancer house and I’m having a really lovely day. Well, considering I have to come into work and all.

I woke up to these in the kitchen from Evan20:

He stayed up really late to get these done. What a good boy! The funny thing was that he was reading from the recipe that he had to grease the muffin tray with melted butter, so I came out of the bedroom to get a peppermint tea just in time to see him putting globs of cake mix into lakes of melted butter. I was so dubious about how these would turn out, but they were delicious! He made buttercream icing and it was the best icing I’ve had in a long time. Truly decadent.

I got up early, thanks to Poppy and Scout and their insatiable need to greet the dawn, and I put together a Moroccan chicken tagine in the slow cooker, so I can get to Tai Chi in time tonight. I gave myself the gift of being organised.

Driving into work I had the latest ‘Welcome to Nightvale’ podcast to listen to. (By the way, has anyone else heard the last episode of ‘Belinda Blinked 3’ yet?!? (My Dad Wrote a Porno.) Most amazing plot twist ever.)

I walked into the staffroom and there was a bunch of flowers on my desk. 🙂 Our pocket of the staff room is nicknamed ‘The Danger Zone’ and we have the best people sitting here. They also arranged this card:

Yes, I’m a Survivor tragic – I’ve seen every single episode ever made and I just love it. I’m convinced that if I was to ever play, my social game would be amazing but I’d be absolutely useless in the challenges. Still, a girl can dream…

My first class was period 2, upstairs with the year 7s. Both of my classes were there, so I walked through a crowd of kids wishing me a happy birthday. Charlotte gave me this chocolate and they tunefully yodeled the ‘Happy Birthday to You’ song before they settled down to work on their essays. On the way downstairs after class, Ayel gave me the cupcake.

I have 3 periods of teaching today. I’ve scheduled all 3 periods to be year 7 essays. I’ve told the kids that they’re giving me the gift of absolute silence and perfect essays (meaning FAR less correction time for me) for my birthday. Let’s hope they follow directions on the essays. End of term correction is a HUGE time-swallower for English teachers.

People on Facebook would have seen what happened after lunch. A couple of my year 12 students from last year wished me a happy birthday and in the convo that followed I mentioned that I’d made timtam fudge for the staff. They were onto it immediately. “Where are you period 5?” “Can we come up to the school to get some?” “We’ll be right there!” I was expecting them just to walk in and have some fudge, but they didn’t arrive empty-handed. I had a surprise birthday cake. 🙂

After school David23 and I went and bought him a car. His was written off a couple of weeks ago when he was rear-ended. Then I went home, had a revivifying nanna nap and went to my Tai Chi class.

All in all, a wonderful day!

Financial post: Why expenses really matter when it comes to your investments.

 

 

Posted in memories, Quality of life | 3 Comments

Skinflint Sunday: The plan comes to fruition.

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So what does one do when everything finally comes together and a plan is executed?

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One celebrates! My boss was singularly unimpressed, but everyone else loves it.

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Yes, the house sale limped its way over the line and the money was deposited into my account a couple of weeks ago. The little weatherboard house has already been torn down and the 2 townhouses we planned will go up in its place. I drive right past the house most mornings so I could see the gradual tearing down. It was a bit sad, but thankfully I love my new place so much that I can’t help but feel it was the right thing to do.

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I just used an old photo. It’s horrible weather outside at the moment so I decided that I’ll stay on the couch instead of dashing outside to wave a camera around.  I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to finally be able to look at my beautiful house and know that I own it lock, stock and barrel. I’ve hated the last 18 months of being horrendously in debt with a passion, and the thought of being free of the 3 grand a month bridging finance is so, so sweet.

As John Collins says, I now have my ‘FU money‘. Not enough to retire on with the level of income that I want, but there’s enough that I have options should I need them. (Click on the second link to watch the clip… I tried to embed it but WordPress has changed how things are done and I’m a bit lost. )

I’ve shovelled as much as I can into super, so Old Lady Frogdancer will be able to go travelling whenever she wants, and I’m looking at various index funds with Vanguard to park the rest. My FIRE date (Financial Independence/Retire Early date) is around 5 or 6 years away, I think. I want to retire early enough so I can gallop around the world and not slow anyone down with elderly aches and pains. Besides, I still like teaching. I suppose that when the kids stop making me laugh every day it might be time to put down the whiteboard markers, but that day hasn’t happened yet.

I’ve taken up Tai Chi on Wednesday nights, which I’m enjoying, though it’s hard to keep up with the rest of the class. I should’ve waited to join at the start of the year, I guess. I also did something I’ve been wanting to do for years… I bought not one but two MTC subscriptions. My plan is to take a different person with me to see each play. We’ll have dinner in the city, then go to the theatre. This way I can catch up with various people and give people a treat at the same time. How excellent is that? The first play is ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime’ from the National Theatre in England. I remember walking past the theatre when I was with Scott in London and wishing I was going to see it. Well, now I am! (And so’s David24… he loved the novel when he studied it in year 9.)

Well, speaking about school and studying, those year 12 essays aren’t going to mark themselves. I’d better go and get some work done before Ryan22 gets up. He’s doing a remedial massage course and I’m getting a massage later this morning. It’s a sacrifice, but I’ll steel myself to do it for the sake of his education…. 🙂

Financial post: A Story of a Fuck Off fund.

Posted in Children., Quality of life, Skinflint, Uncategorized, work | 4 Comments

I’m so EXCITED!!!

A little while ago a blogger named Urspo did a post on podcasts. One of the ones he rated most highly was ‘Welcome to Nightvale’. I was looking for some more things to listen to and so I looked it up. The list of episodes to catch up on was a bit daunting, as it has been going for around 4 years. From memory I think I downloaded 116 ps. Then they sat there on my ipad for a while, as 116 half-hour episodes is quite the commitment. But once I launched into it, after three or four episodes I was hooked.

Nightvale is a fictional place, (at least, I hope it’s fictional!!), somewhere in the desert in the US. The podcast itself is the broadcasts from the town’s community radio station, presented by Cecil Palmer, the station’s DJ.

Nightvale is a community where, after a while, the listener can’t help but notice that things are slightly off-kilter at times. A place where to go to the dog park is strictly forbidden for both dogs and their owners, where helicopters constantly fly above, piloted by members of a vague yet menacing government agency, and where librarians are definitely to be feared. The beauty of this podcast is that nothing is handed to you on a plate. Gradually the fabric of the society is built up layer by layer, and because the show has been going for so long there’s a lot that has been revealed.

I LOVE it.

Yesterday ‘Welcome to Nightvale’ was back after their summer break. I was listening to it in the car and imagine my delight when I heard, “Greetings to New Zealand and Australia! We’re bringing our live show ‘All hail The Glowcloud’ to you in February next year. ”

I raced home and googled the details. And as of 12:01pm today, I’m the proud holder of a middle front row ticket to see the show. Whoopee!!!!!

(I love my new life…)

Thanks Michael. 🙂

 

Posted in Just for fun., Quality of life | 2 Comments

Sausage dogs are a different type of dog…

The dogs and I went to a Dachshund meet-up to raise money for an IVDD charity. It was a fun afternoon. Poppy and Jeff were (I think) the only non-doxy dogs there, with about 40 dachshunds running around.

I have to say, in 30 years of Cavalier ownership, I’ve never once seen one dressed up. However, things in different breeds appear to differ.

I started to walk around and take shots of the best outfits. Though the one above is horrific in their choice of football team…

The theme was Christmas in July so there was a fair bit of red, green and white going on.

Aren’t the short-haired black and tans elegant?

Poppy and Jeff were great and stuck by me the whole time, even when a couple of dachshunds who apparently couldn’t handle any other breed but their own rushed out and barked at them.

It was all a bit overwhelming for Scout. Even though she’s nearly 12 months old, she was still one of the smallest dogs there. She’d walk with us for a little while, but then she’d stop dead and refuse to move until I came back and picked her up.

Jeff’s long legs and short muzzle didn’t seem to affect his animal magnetism. He was very popular with this dachshund in particular.

Little Lily was so gentle and sweet.

Another Christmas-themed costume.

After we were there for a while Scout loosened up and started to make friends.

I LOVED this costume on another wire-haired one.

We were lucky enough to come home with the door prize, which was a bag filled with things. By far and away Scout and Poppy’s favourite thing was this squeaky toy.

After five minutes it now looks like this….

The club raised $2,500 for IVDD, which was a fantastic result. A Sausage sizzle, Sausage dog races and the stalls and costume competition all brought in a fantastic result. 🙂

Posted in pets | 1 Comment

Coming up for air.

I’ve had a few queries from people asking why I haven’t been posting as regularly as I usually have over the last 10 years. (Yes, this blog is nearly at its 10th anniversary!) The short answer is that I’ve been going through the sale of my little house in Bentleigh East and it has been one drama and setback after another. I’ve always said that only two things can rock me… romance and finance… and this huge financial ‘windfall’ has been keeping my stress levels high and my inclination to write at nearly zero.

But now the sale is unconditional and in 30 days or so I’ll get paid for my beautiful little property. The first thing that will happen is that I’ll pay off our new house and I’ll be debt-free again. Old Lady Frogdancer’s super account will get as large an injection as I’m legally allowed, while her share portfolio outside of super will also get ramped up. That wrinkled old prune of a woman will have a bloody beautiful retirement, thanks to me, and she’ll never have to ask her children for any financial help. I hope that old woman appreciates it.

After Monday’s incident, when I was on the phone to the bank for half an hour going (frankly) batshit crazy when I discovered that the letter we needed from them to get the unconditional sale had been cancelled by them 5 weeks previously, so that we were waiting and asking for something they had no intention of providing because they “thought I didn’t need it”, I was relieved to see the letter come through to my conveyancer at 9:30 Tuesday morning. I rang a couple of people to tell them, then went back to bed and slept till 12:05, when Ryan22 woke me, telling me I had to get up to get to my lunch date with a friend from work. That night I had a crazily early night… I think my body was finally relaxing. Thank God it’s the holidays.

People keep asking when I’m going to go on another big holiday. I’m thinking it’ll be next year some time, but first I want to put a massive roofed deck on the back of the house, so that’s the first project. I’ve ordered 2 leather lounge suites for the house that’ll come in September sometime, so yes, things are starting to move. I can’t wait till the 3K/month of bridging finance is behind us and I can start seeing my whole wage again. 🙂

Theoretically I could almost afford to retire now, if I was happy to live the frugal, spartan lifestyle I’ve been living these last 18 months while I’ve been paying the bridging finance. But of course that leaves no room for all the fun things like travel, theatre subscriptions and the like. So I’ll be shlepping into work for a few more years to make sure Old Lady Frogdancer gets to travel the world.

One thing I AM going to do is to get 2 MTC subscriptions and take a different person each time to see a play. I think it’s an awesome way to catch up with someone. So one time it could be my Mum, another time a friend, then the next time one or other of the boys… I can just jump on the train to the city, meet them for dinner, see the play and then train it home. I can’t wait to start doing that.

Another thing I’m looking forward to doing is buying some new clothes. I’m wearing all those things I bought years ago when I went to Hong Kong and just between you, me and the gatepost, I’m sick to death of them.

There’ll be lots of little things I’ve been holding off from buying that now I’ll be able to do.

I think the next little while will be a very different stage in my life. I’m looking forward to it.

Financial post: The Early Retirement/Financial Freedom spreadsheet post  This article has some US-specific things about their Social Security system, but it’s easy enough to mentally think of our pension, should you want to be reliant on it. The spreadsheets are fun to plug your numbers into, though.

 

Posted in backyard beach, Quality of life | 5 Comments

Skinflint Sunday: See the Van Gogh exhibition for free. (Twice!)

We’re half-way through the winter school holidays at the moment and I’ve reached the stage of not needing nanna naps so much, starting to Get Things Done and reacquainting myself with these 3 rascals you see above. Miss Scout is 11 months old now and is really developing her personality – not just ‘puppy cuteness’ but she’s now got her little foibles, habits and weird dachshund noises when she wants something which makes her different to the Cavaliers. Jeff could probably still do without her being here… he’s polite but he doesn’t seek her out, but Poppy and Scout are mother and daughter.

This reminds me of the line “morning fields of amber grain” in the song ‘Starry Starry Night”. This is part of the ‘Fortunate Frogdancer’ experience I had last week.

 

 

I was lucky enough to escape school twice in the last week of term to take some year 7s to the National Gallery of Victoria. They run a joint Art/English program for year 7 kids, so every year if you take a year 7 class you get to go around the Art Gallery with them, then watch them do some sort of artwork in response to what they saw.

When we got there on Monday and the kids were allowed to scamper off, I was chatting to the guide about the Van Gogh exhibition that’s on at the moment. It was 10AM and the queue was already sizable. He said, “Do you want to come in at the back and see it?” Not being an idiot I said yes, so off we went through the gift shop, he showed the guard a pass and I was in.

The beauty of it was that there were 3 rooms for people to work their way through… and the paintings were at the very end. While the art vultures were being admitted and were working their way through, I had the place virtually to myself.

 

 

I had twenty minutes until the kids were due to meet us back in the Great Hall, after being allowed to walk through the free parts of the gallery.

This meant that I couldn’t dilly-dally too much, but I was able to gallop around and see everything.

The detail in this one was incredible. It looks like nothing much until you stand in front of it and really take it in.

You could almost see this tree move. It was wonderful.

This is a café in Montmartre. I may have mentioned on this blog 2 years ago that I’ve been there too…?

When I told the other teachers where I’d been they were so envious. They’d just gone to the café to grab a coffee.

 

On Thursday – all of us got in. I could revisit my favourites from Monday and also look at others that I didn’t have the time to fully appreciate earlier.

This was an interesting painting for me. On Monday, I looked at it and went “meh”. On Thursday, I stood just a little further away from it (I think) and suddenly the perspective shifted and I fell into it.

Here’s what the man himself said about it.

I loved this one, but didn’t realise this guy had turned it into an action shot.

It was a little more crowded on the Thursday. As you can see, there were MASSES of people… in their twos!… walking around and getting between me and the pictures. 🙂

After we rejoined the kids, we went on a couple of hours walk around the gallery, where the guides showed the kids various artworks and made them do haikus, skits and treasure hunts in response. It was really good. I love going on this excursion, but this year was certainly one – or two- out of the box!

Here’s a more recent one from when we were with the kids, for any of my sewing/quilting friends who might still be reading. She’s using a Singer sewing machine.

I had mine fixed. I’m thinking there might be a few more quilts left in me.

Financial post: Great News! There’s another Recession Coming!

 

Posted in work | 2 Comments

Good news. :)

After work last week I took the dogs down to the beach. Here’s a typical shot of Miss Scout following Poppy everywhere. They stick really close to me when there are other dogs on the beach, but when we have it pretty much to ourselves they roam further afield.

Jeffrey, on the other hand, stays close… unless there’s a tempting rubbish bin or pile of seaweed to smell.

Scout’s a BIG girl now… 9-and-a-half months old. She’s left that generic ‘cute puppy’ stage behind and is developing her own personality. I’ve learned the noise she makes for ,”Mum, I want to jump across the other dogs on the couch next to you and land on your chest,” which has come in handy, as this usually happens when I’ve got a full cup of coffee in my hand and my laptop on my lap at the time. Still, only one spilled cuppa so far… I suppose that’s ok.

This is Evan20, nursing a cold and watching House of Cards with me. He’s been back home for a couple of months now. He liked living in our old house by himself but he’s enjoying being back with the animals again. Apparently the food is also better here too. He took up vegetarianism while he was gone, so willy-nilly the rest of the house has upped their intake of plant-based meals. I’ve never eaten so many chickpeas and lentils in my life.

An obsessed puppy; inside with a kong filled with dry cat food while the Cavaliers were outside behaving like dogs.

Whoopee!!

Our old house was sold last week for a very pleasing sum of money. In fact; an insane sum of money. Thank God for Melbourne’s crazy property market and for the fact my house is in the zone for the school. People buy houses here JUST to get into the zone to send their kids here. (In fact, 20 years ago, it was one of the reasons I bought the house.) I sold it with plans to develop, so the people who bought it don’t have to kick their heels for 18 months waiting for council to approve plans etc like we did. They can just get going. I was so pleased to get this all finalised and to not have to go through a build. So I just have to wait for settlement, pay off the beach house and I’ll be debt-free again. I can’t wait…

Posted in backyard beach, Children., pets | 6 Comments

Orange book time.

My year 7 class is having a 15 minute free writing session, so here I am.

It’s an interesting thing – studies have shown that kids’ writing improves if they’re given opportunities to simply write whatever they want to write. No “What I Did On My Holidays” or things like that, just an orange exercise book and 15 minutes every now and then to write WHATEVER they want to write about. No teacher observations, no corrections… it’s their space. We’re doing it in the junior school.

The kids absolutely love it. Some kids are writing a novel, others are using it as a diary, others are writing a mishmash of stories, diary and poetry. One little naughty boy in one of my year 7 classes lost his orange book and was mortified when the year 7 student managers handed it back to him. He’d basically been wasting his time, writing lots of swear words (how dashing and daring) and one of the SMs had written a note on the last page of his writing. “Settle down a bit, mate.” He spent the first couple of minutes of his writing time ripping certain pages out of his book and shredding them, before settling down to write a story, presumably with the more ‘racier’ phrases cut out.

At the end of the session I let them show their friends what they wrote, if they wish. They love this. They look and giggle and make comments on their friends’ work, while other kids quietly pack away their book, unwilling to share. Either way, it’s all good.

It’s nice to see them really enjoying this task. Every time it’s ‘Orange Book Time’ you can hear a pin drop in the room. Or Dan writing something on the front of his book with a very squeaky texta.

Time’s up in one minute. Off to do some work on ‘Coraline’ after this.

Posted in work | 2 Comments

Skinflint Sunday: Tex Glanville

My cousin in the US linked to this youtube clip of my grandfather. I had no idea this existed. 🙂

My grandfather was active in the vaudeville circuit in Australia, also performing hypnotism as well as the rope spinning, slack-wire walking and juggling. He was a very interesting man. He was one of those people who seem to be good at everything they try their hand at. That was how he caught the eye of my Grandma. He was friends with one of her brothers and he came to their house one afternoon to play tennis. Never played it before, but beat the whole lot of them – and they were a family who played tennis constantly because they had a tennis court!

It was especially poignant because this is exactly how I remember him… I saw them when I was on my honeymoon a year later and so this is how Grandpa will always look like in my head.

Meanwhile, here’s a quick snap of Scout. Clearly, she places no importance on how dachshunds have to be careful and look after their backs. She likes to climb; so climb she must.

I’m hoping to have some big news in the next week or so….

Finance post: First retire – then get rich.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments