Skinflint Sunday: 4 sleeps to go!

Look! I’ve started packing!

This is my handbag and carry-on. Yesterday I lay in bed after a little nap after lunch and wrote lists on my phone. Carry-on. Handbag. Suitcase.

I would’ve ideally liked to totally just have carry-on luggage, but having to pack for freezing weather AND summer weather is proving to be difficult to do under 7 KGs. So I’m putting the absolute necessities for the cruise in the carry-on, planning on wearing my thick fleecy things on the plane to save weight, and then putting everything else on my suitcase.

The suitcase will definitely be nearly empty, but it gives me more flexibility, plus if it goes missing it won’t be devastating for Antarctica. Those icebergs and penguins are the main reasons I’m going, after all!

I’ve packed my bathers in the carry-on. I’ve decided that I’ll be doing the Polar Plunge. It’s the only chance I’ll ever have to do it. After all, how bad could it actually be?????

The handbag I’ll be taking is the one I bought at a little market in Marylebone on one of the first days I was in London. Here I am, a couple of days later, taking it to Hampton Court Palace. I’m a huge Tudor buff o this day was one of the highlights of my life. I blogged about it here.

And here is the bag, along with Blogless Helen, Rick and Matt, arriving in Pyongyang, North Korea in 2018.

Clearly, I can’t leave it at home. It’s a tradition to bring it with me whenever I leave the country.

I’ve been staying away from crowds – I didn’t even have a farewell dinner with my boys – but I’ve also raced around and got a few things done. Poppy and Jeff are pictured here, on their way to my sister’s place to get clippered. They’re now as sleek as seals. My veggie garden is planted… maybe not as extensively as in past years, but as long as Ryan27 keeps the water up to them, the plants should be thriving by the time I get back.

Can you believe Poppy and Jeff are 9 1/2??? Time certainly flies.

I may not post here again before I go. There’s no internet on the ship – and if you CAN get it it’s very expensive – so this will be like another North Korean holiday. I’ll be out of touch for a couple of weeks. I’ve bought a sim for my phone and Ryan27 is on Whatsapp, so I’ll be communicating with the family through him.

See you on the other side!

Dad joke of the day:

Two weeks today…

So! Two weeks from today I’ll be sitting in a plane above the ocean between here and New Zealand, all going well. Who would’ve thought that a year from when I had to postpone the trip last year that we’d still be knee-deep in covid?

I stopped working a week ago and since then I’ve done most of my running around for the trip during the day, when most people are at work. I’ve had my hair cut;bought my seasickness tablets; bought an air tag in case my suitcase goes missing; got my 5th covid jab; and went to Bunnings to buy an electric mower.

That last one was because I gave my petrol mower to Tom30. Ryan27 will have no excuse to avoid gardening while I’m gone!

I’m still waiting on my visa from Chile. It’s been 6 weeks since I submitted the paperwork and I’m getting a little bit antsy. I’m also waiting on the currency people to gather my order together, so when they text me I’ll be driving to Mornington to pick it all up. I’ve decided to go with Chilean pesos, Argentinian pesos and Euros. It was a toss-up between Euros and USD, but the ship operates on Euros and if I have any leftover cash, (which, to be honest, has never happened before!), I’m more likely to make a trip to Europe before I set foot in America.

Though having said that, despite the guns, the Handmaid’s Tale laws and the general craziness over there (like Trump running for president again – do we have to listen to that weird voice AGAIN?)… if I want to be a member of the 7 Continents Club I have to visit North America at some point. Or maybe Canada.

I had a close friend ring me last night. Her sister collapsed a few days ago and she died yesterday. She was the same age as me. It really makes you think…

Anyway, enough of that! I have 2 weeks to get the garden and house into order, (maybe) finish piecing the Seaglass quilt and get my packing done.

Too easy!

Dad joke of the day:

Lauren’s Baby Quilt.

I saw this picture a few days ago and thought that it was a lovely, modern design for a baby quilt, especially if I used a black and white fabric instead of white. Like with Alice’s quilt, this Mum also doesn’t know the gender of the baby, so again, I had to make a gender-neutral quilt.

However, she is also a dog lover with a couple of pups of her own, so I finally cut into this backing fabric that I’ve been sitting on for ages.

Wednesday was my last day of work for this year. I finished the quilt on Tuesday and while it was in the washing machine, I learned that Lauren doesn’t work on Wednesdays.

Of course she doesn’t.

I decided to take a day and do a quilt-dropping-off road trip, as both women work at different campuses.

This photo has Scout in it because Lauren has a dachshund cross.

Measurements: 40″ X 45″

Made from the stash.

Dad joke of the day:

Alice’s Baby Quilt.

You wouldn’t think that the tips of crayons would cause so much angst, but here is my first foray into FPP (foundation paper piecing) all done and dusted!

Alice is one of two young women at work who are starting a family, and both have decided not to find out the gender of their baby. I was so rapt! I did this with 3/4 of my pregnancies and the surprise reveal at the end makes it SO worthwhile.

So when I was making this quilt it had to be gender-neutral.

There are quite a few floral prints, but if you zoom in on the blue crayon you’ll see a square with cars and trucks. I used this fabric for the binding as well.

So many favourite pieces of fabric! I’ll be sad when the crocodiles finally go… I’ve had this fabric for years and it’s so jolly and cute.

The third quilt I ever made was for David15 back in 2008 and part of the quilt was this crayon print. I must have bought METRES of the stuff! Anyway, I had almost enough for the backing of this crayon quilt, so I think it’s fitting that I’m using it here.

I always knew that when Alice decided to start a family that she was definitely “quilt-worthy.”

When I heard the news I went looking on Pinterest for crayon quilts and took my inspiration from there.

Quilt measures: 36″ X 40″.

Made from the stash, though I had to race out to Palm Beach Quilting, the closest quilt shop to me, to get some more red and purple.

Dad joke of the day:

Everything’s coming up roses.

Bright green leaves with one bloom on a rose bush.
Mind the thorns!

Last year I got an unexpected parcel in the mail. My friend Deana, who I met in person when she invited me to stay with her during my trip to London in 2015, sent me a bare-rooted rose called something like “Lady Educator”. I procrastinated pruning it until the beginning of September, and when I walked up to it a couple of weeks later, I saw that aphids were sucking the life out of the tender new growth.

Not on my watch, baby!

I rummaged around the laundry and found a bug spray and doused the rose bush in it. A week later I went back and did it again.

Look at it now!

An apricot rose, surrounded by lush leaves.

The first of many roses this summer, I’m sure.

Ruby maple tree beside the house.

I love the hue of this maple. My sister and I were wandering around Frankston market 3 years ago when I saw it.

I’m going to make a concerted effort to keep the water up to it. Every spring it starts off looking glorious, but then the leaves die around the edges and it looks a bit raggedy until autumn.

Yesterday I was at home (yay!) and I finished the crayon quilt top for my friend at work. I’m going to aim to have it completely finished by the end of the weekend, because I have another baby quilt I want to make for another girl at work.

I’ve decided to not go anywhere crowded for 2 weeks before I leave for Antarctica. I’d be devastated if I had to cancel the trip because of covid two years in a row! Incidentally, I bumped into a woman I’ve known for years who’s suffering from long covid. Eleven months after catching it, she still has no sense of taste or smell, can only work a couple of hours a day because of debilitating fatigue, and she looks as if she’s aged terribly. It reinforces my determination to wear a mask. You just don’t know how your body is going to react to the virus.

A wire-haired dachshund looking like an angel.

I snapped this shot of Scout when I was on the phone with Tom30. I’ll be trimming her beard soon, for summer, but I love how the light catches it in this shot.

She’s a good girl.

Dad Joke of the Day:

Bits and bobs.

I’m making a baby quilt for a friend at work and I needed to learn how to do FPP – Foundation Paper Piecing – to make the tops of some crayons.

Look at that block. It really couldn’t get easier. Yet last week I was trying to make these and I kept on mucking it up. The difference between normal piecing and FPP is that you sew the colours onto a piece of paper, then rip the paper off once you’re done. You kind of work backwards… it’s hard to explain… but I made 2 blocks perfectly and then mucked the next 3 blocks up.

I have no idea what I was doing wrong, but it got to the point where I walked away from doing it and didn’t sew anything for a week. That tactic worked. Yesterday I came back to it and everything worked like a charm.

Hopefully, I’ll have the quilt finished soon, then I can start on another baby quilt for another friend at work.

Then – Antarctica!

On Tuesday Helen and I were sitting in the staff room before the day began. The Daily Organiser sent me a text, directing me to take my class to the same room Helen was teaching at and we could teach together. I sent her this photo.

She replied, “LOL. Now, you two behave yourselves!”

Scout is the only dog who’ll willingly go into the sea. Poppy will race right up to where the sea starts and then veer away, as she’s doing here. Jeff, on the other hand, won’t go anywhere near the water unless I go in.

I received a nice little gift in the mail the other day. Linda from The Witch’s Kitchen sent me some tromboncino zucchini seeds after I mentioned that I didn’t have any growing this year. I prefer the tromboncino to ‘normal’ zucchini because they have fewer seeds and you can train the vines upwards to save on space. Plus, they sometimes grow in interesting shapes.

Gardeners are the loveliest people! Thanks, Linda. I’m sure by late January I’ll be grating and freezing many bags of zucchini for my winter stews and bologneses.

Dad joke of the day:

Spring has sprung.

It seems that I do most of my blog post writing when I’m in a classroom. Once the kids are working – in this case, it’s an art class – there’s not much else for me to do!

However, on Saturday I wrote a blog post for the FI/RE blog about soap making. Rather than go through it all again, even though the topic is much better suited to this blog, I’ll give you the link. It’s called ‘The Terrific Soap Recipe.’

Tom30 is now fully ensconced in his house. There are only a couple of things to be transported across and he’s at the stage of hanging pictures and making minor design changes. David29 drove across after work to view the new place and dropped into mine on the way through to pick up his birthday presents. I love our Aeropress and I also gave him a flat-bottomed mug to go with it that he’s going to take to work to use there.

He and Izzy should be moving out from her parents’ place at the end of the year, so there are a few empty packing boxes sitting here, waiting. Before we know where we are it’ll be April and time for the wedding. Then next September I’ll have 2 kids in their 30’s. How on earth did that happen?

You should hear the drivel of year 10 gossip that’s going on to my right. Or maybe you shouldn’t. It’s awful. All “She’s so mean” and “Do you like so-and-so” and so on and so forth. I’d NEVER go back in time to be at high school again.

Last week I went to Bunnings and bought some heirloom seedlings. With all the work I did last term, I didn’t get to start any seeds, which makes me feel a bit bad. Still, I guess there’s always next year. Last year I had a wall of Lazy Housewife beans and saved lots of seed. This year I’m planting a wall of Purple King beans, with seed saved from descendants of a handful of seed given to me 10 years ago from foodnstuff when she came over to visit. I hope she’s ok… she hasn’t blogged for a long time.

I love that gifts of plants and heirloom seeds that can be saved each year can still represent the giver. It’s a little piece of immortality.

I’m an art teacher all day today. Art rooms are so CLUTTERED!!!!! There’s crap everywhere, but the kids are so motivated to get their work done. I was thinking that the year 7s, in particular, might be a handful but they’re settling into doing their tasks very quietly. I may be speaking too soon – next lesson is Year 10 ceramics and for years I’ve heard tales of bits of clay getting thrown around the room when ceramics classes had a weak teacher. Let’s hope they don’t test my mettle!

I’m reading the most fantastic book at the moment. I’m halfway through it and I was so cross that I was working today because otherwise I’d have galloped through it this morning and finished it. It’s called ‘The Mother’ by Jane Caro. I can highly recommend!

There are only about 6 weeks to go before I head off to Antarctica. I still need to organise my luggage. I really wanted to just take carry-on with me, seeing as each leg of the trip has 4 separate flights on it, but seeing as I have lots of ‘warm’ layers that take up a lot of space, I’ve resigned myself to the plan of taking the Antarctica clothes with me as carry-on and having a suitcase for everything else. I really don’t want to have to set foot on the ice without decent warm clothes. I know that sometimes the ice in summer has temperatures in the mid-twenties, but I certainly don’t want to have to rely on it if my Antarctic clothes get lost.

There’s no other real news. The boys are all going fine, the little woofs are great and I’m relishing the increase I have in freedom days since that contract at work has finished. I was glad that I worked so hard last term – I only had 4 days off, which for a retired person is incredible – because the money I earned was given to Tom30 to help get him over the line for his house deposit. But I don’t want to work like this again. Retirement is too much fun!

Dad joke of the day:

Why did the chicken go to the seance?

To get to the other side.

Tom30 moves out.

As I sit here on the couch on a rainy Melbourne morning, little woofs snoring beside me, I can hear Tom30 singing in his room. This morning will be the last time I’ll start the day like this. Today he gets the keys to his new place and tomorrow he’ll be up at sparrow’s fart to collect the truck he’s hired to move all of his stuff out.

The picture at the top of this post is my Man Cave… he used the 4 day weekend to get his packing done. Though, to be fair, the Man Cave has been full of his stuff since he unexpectedly moved back here in February. It’ll be a strange feeling to finally get my spacious second living area back again.

A couple of days ago he dismantled his bed and was just going to sleep on his mattress on the floor, but then he decided to assemble my guest bed. Ryan27 had offered to do it, but now it’s done. Soon I’ll get my lovely guest bedroom back.

Tom30 moved away from home about 7 years ago. He’s my most attention-seeking child, (and with Evan26 being an actor, that’s saying something!!!) and the one who is most like his father. I remember one time when the kids were teenagers and my parents were over. We were all just hanging around and talking, and when Tom30 left to go out with friends, Mum turned to me and said, “Well, A will never be gone as long as Tom is here!”

His arrival back home was unexpected and very rushed. Initially, he was expecting to be here for a month or so until he found another place to rent, but then we decided that if he stayed a bit longer, he could turbo-charge his savings and get a house deposit together instead. This was one of his long-term goals, but he was aiming for the end of next year to be able to get it done. Essentially, we’ve saved hm 18 months.

Our major rule in order to live together harmoniously was that we couldn’t discuss politics.

By and large, we stuck to this, otherwise it could never have worked. I’ve enjoyed the chance to reconnect with my boy. We always had long conversations over the phone, but there’s nothing that beats living under the same roof with someone to get all of those little interactions. It’s something I never in a million years thought we’d be doing and I’m glad that we were able to see each other as adults – not just mother and son.

On Saturday we went to Ikea to pick up a few things.

Here’s Tom30 holding his cutlery drawer insert and his kitchen bin while being very taken with a speaker system with a ‘Starry Night’ cover.

I ended up spending more than he did because I found the perfect outdoor table to put the pizza oven on. I can’t show you what it looks like because it’s still in the box. I’ll need to get one of the boys to assemble it.

Then on the way home, we stopped by a gym equipment store to buy an elliptical. I got him to take a photo to document something that has rarely happened… Frogdancer Jones using an exercise machine.

Yes, I’m still masking up … I’d say religiously but I’m an atheist. I have a couple of months to go before Antarctica. I’ll be getting my 5th jab in November and I’m hoping that with masking and the jabs, I’ll avoid screwing up the trip.

Speaking of the trip, I’m revisiting the idea of just taking carry-on with me. My cousin is here from the US at the moment and he showed me his carry-on bag, which is the only thing he uses when he travels. I loved hs bag, but it weighs 3.5kgs, which when you have a limit of between 7 – 10 kgs is a bit too heavy.

If anyone has a good, light carry-on sized bag, can you please let me know? I don’t want to use a backpack because I’m very unfit and lazy. I’d prefer a bag I can pull along behind me.

Anyway, tomorrow I’ll be ferrying bits and pieces to Tom30’s new house while he takes care of the big items. He’ll also be picking up his elliptical and a fridge that a friend is giving him. Meanwhile, I’ll be there, sitting around waiting for his new couch to be delivered.

THEN I’ll be going into the city with Megs from work to see Jenna’s cabaret show. I’m going back to see it on Saturday night with the family.

Busy, busy. busy.

Dad joke of the day:

Skinflint Sunday: Knitting.

Every crafter knows that if one of your loved ones asks you to make them something, you make sure it’s done.

Tom30 asked me to knit him some dishcloths for his kitchen. I haven’t knitted anything for over two years, ever since I made Izzy a cowl from the softest Peruvian hand-dyed wool and she wore it as a boob tube. It kind of took the heart out of knitting for me for a while. But with less than two weeks to go before Tom30 gets the keys, it was time to get back on the horse again.

I store my yarn in a couple of old suitcases at the top of my wardrobe. I didn’t know what was in there, but I thought I’d go shopping here before actually hitting the shops.

I found 9 balls of bamboo that I remember buying from Spotlight well over a decade ago. I remember that I’d just discovered bamboo yarn and how beautifully it drapes, so when I saw these balls on special I grabbed them. Tom30 didn’t mind the colour, so with the Grand Final beginning, I cast on. I was able to get one almost finished by game’s end because it was so one-sided as to be very boring, so there was little to distract me.

I spent Sunday morning knitting the one on the right.

These are two strands held together, casting on with 44 stitches and simply knitting until I’ve made a square. For fun, I’ll probably do a different stitch for each dishcloth.

As I was knitting this morning, I was sitting on the couch on my front verandah. The dogs were snoozing beside me, the sun was shining and I was able to see my flower garden springing to life.

I was ridiculously happy.

Dad joke of the day:

I finished all the marking!!!

I’m giving classes TWO Dad jokes today. Yes, I’m that happy.

I was dreading the thought of having marking left over to finish on the holidays, so I’ve made a concerted effort to push through and get it all done. Look at me – made it with two days to spare!

There are still a few kids who’ve been away and if they come to class before the end of term they’ll sit their tests and I’ll mark them, but the tests are quick to do so I won’t mind.

I’m pretty happy. 5 classes X 28 kids X 2 projects/tests = … a big number. Everything was due in the last two weeks of term.

Apparently the last day of term is going to be a stinker – wild winds and rain. I’ll be on yard duty out at the crossing on East Boundary road. At first, I was a bit glum at the prospect, but then it occurred to me that it’ll be a perfect time to test out my Antarctica gear!

Fortunate Frogdancer strikes again.

Dad joke of the day:

I met my wife at the glue factory.

We bonded immediately.

And your BONUS Dad joke because I finished the marking:

What’s the first rule of Passive-Aggressive club?

You know what? Never mind. Forget it.