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.

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Chasing seagulls.

Scout’s now 8 months old. She’s a big girl now.

Today I finally took the dogs to the beach. I’ve been on holidays for nearly two weeks but another project has been taking up my time and nervous energy, (more on that soon), but today was the day! As soon as breakfast was over we hot-footed it down to the beach.

When the tide is out a sandbar appears just off the beach, close enough to wade to. Or, if you’re as short as Scout, to swim to. Poppy is an absolute bird dog, so as soon as she spotted these seagulls on the sandbar she was itching to get at them.

They had a few attempts…

… but it all seemed a bit too swimmy and scary. Here Scout holds Poppy’s ear on the way back.

After a bit of thought, and me strategically moving to a narrower and more shallow way to cross…

… they were happy.

They ran up and down that sandbar for ages…

… while young Jeffrey stayed at my feet. Only 2 more days of holidays to go.

Thermomix Recipe: Tahini Saves racing up to the shops when you’ve run out of this. 🙂 Just popped some in a jar to go into the fridge. With a vegetarian son in the house, we’re suddenly making a lot of hummus.

Finance post: Sell! Sell!! Sell!!! Sell? This is a post from easily one of my favourite finance bloggers. You might recall that I reviewed his book The Simple Path to Wealth last year and absolutely loved it.

Posted in backyard beach | 1 Comment

Podcasts I’m listening to.

I thought I’d post a few things I’ve been reading and listening to, in case other people are looking for something entertaining to pass the time. (The photo is Evan20 and the dogs at the #backyardbeach.)

PODCASTS.

I’ve been listening to Dave Ramsey‘s podcast for years. For those who haven’t heard of him, he runs a 3-hour talk-back radio show on American radio about getting out of debt and staying away for credit cards and other borrowings forever and ever amen. He uses a few biblical references every now and then, which is weird for Australian ears to get used to, but I love his general philosophy on living beneath your means and reducing risk in your financial world. Every hour he has people come in to do their debt-free screams and they tell their stories. Very motivational stuff.

When my commute got HUGE after I moved an hour away from work, I began to add to my podcast list.

My Dad Wrote a Porno. I’m binge-listening this podcast at the moment and I love it. It’s the funniest thing I’ve ever heard in my life. Evan20 and I started listening to it and even though this sounds like a weird Mother-Son bonding thing, trust me. This ‘erotic book’ is not erotic in the slightest. It’s made me stop taking the train to work so that I can I have privacy when I hear something hilarious. The premise of the podcast is that a trio of thirty-somethings get together each week to hear a chapter of said porno being read aloud. Two of them haven’t heard it before the recording, so we get their unadulterated reactions to “Rocky Flintstone’s” book. He’s an awful writer. Well worth a listen, though maybe make sure your headphones are working if you’re going to listen to it in public.

The Moth. People go to various venues around the world, throw their names in a hat and, if chosen, speak about a real-life experience they’ve had. Usually, the events have a theme to them. You never know what you’re going to hear, from hilariously funny to heart-wrenchingly sad. I’ve been using some of these podcasts to teach public speaking with my English classes when I run “Moth-style” classes with them.   

This American Life. This is one of my favourite podcasts. Every week is different, with different stories told around a common theme. This podcast is always thought-provoking and entertaining. I look forward to it every Monday – it’s a “must listen.”

SerialThis was the first podcast I subscribed to after listening purely to Dave Ramsay for a couple of years.

The New Yorker has quite a few podcasts. Here are the ones I subscribe to.

The New Yorker: Fiction. Authors read a story written by someone else and then they discuss it. Gee, there’s some wonderful short stories out there!

The New Yorker: Poetry. Every month or so a poet chooses a poem that’s been published in the “New Yorker” magazine and s/he and the poetry editor read and discuss it. Then they read one of their own poems. Marvellous attention to the details and nuances of language. I’ve heard some magnificent poems here.

The New Yorker: The Writer’s Voice – New Fiction. Each month an author reads a short story of theirs that the ‘New Yorker’ has published. I know I’m not alone in liking to be read to.

Alice Isn’t DeadThis is basically a novel broken down into bite-sized pieces. I binged on the first season over a week of travelling on the train. I think the next season is soon to arrive.

Missing Richard SimmonsA friend at work put me onto this one and I really enjoyed it for the first four episodes, but now I’m starting to feel as if this guy’s starting to err on the side of harassment, assuming everything is genuinely fine with Richard Simmons and he just wants to be left alone. Of course, the whole question is that nobody appears to know for sure if this is the case. Interesting listening, but I’m not sure I’ll continue for much longer…

No Such Thing as a Fish. I haven’t listened to this yet, but this is a weekly podcast by the researchers for QI. They get together and talk about the most interesting fact they’ve each uncovered that week. Sounds as if it could be really interesting, and funny as well. Gotta be happy with that!

Welcome to Night Vale. Spo wrote about this one on his blog. I’ve downloaded every episode (yikes! There’s about 3 years’ worth!) but I haven’t tackled it yet.

The Tim Ferris Show. I’ve only listened to one episode, when he interviewed Mr Money Moustache. I’ve downloaded a few eps to try, though they’re quite long and appear to be fairly business-oriented. Still, I’ll give him a go.

Financial Independence podcast – Early Retirement.  I’ve linked to the page on his blog that has a list of who he’s interviewed on his podcast. Lots of the FIRE bloggers are here. (Financial Independence Early Retirement.)

 

Posted in backyard beach, Just for fun. | 3 Comments

Skinflint Monday: go to the beach for free.

16939331_10209691053168016_4645384439135595636_nOn Sunday the kids and I drove to Mornington dog beach. The dachshund group on FB was having a walk there, so I thought it might be fun to see what it was like. They had a good turn-out, with about 15 dachshunds (and 2 cavaliers.)

 

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They had all different types of dachies, with the most common being black and tan longhairs. Scout was one of 2 miniature wire-haired dogs. They were really excited when we turned up, because Sherlock would have a friend.

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Sherlock is a 9 month-old, though his coat was far fluffier and softer than Scout’s. He’s a brindle colour.

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He was a fair bit bigger than her, too.

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After we were there for a while, I brought out the ball. Poppy and Scout tend to think that a visit to a beach is wasted unless they can chase a ball. Here’s Scout getting slightly bossy.

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Look at the intent gaze…

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Whenever Poppy gets the ball, Scout ‘helps’ by grabbing Poppy’s ear and running with her/being dragged by her all the way back. Poppy has the patience of a saint.

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Here’s one so her breeder can see her topline.

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Most of the dogs socialised with each other, but some decided to crawl into their Mum’s lap. One boy spent the whole time happily nestled in a hole in the rocks.

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Poppy and Jeff enjoyed themselves too. They got so many pats… they were the novelty item. At first I wasn’t sure how the dachshund people would regard the cavaliers, but after Poppy and Jeff ignored the hysterical barking that first greeted us, and were then friendly to the ‘nervous’ dachshund, we were all regarded as part of the pack.

They’re a good size as regards ‘bigger’ dogs. Not so huge as to be scary, but just big enough that the tiny dogs can get socialised.

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I love this shot. Someone else took it for me.

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This is the view I had in the rear-view mirror on the way home. Poppy likes to see where we’re going.

Financial post: Our greatest love stories are all about money.

Posted in pets, Skinflint | 5 Comments

And now, an old Youtube clip.

 

Financial post: Well worth watching. Grab a coffee and settle in!

I started the morning in such a productive way, getting so many things done before work, so I thought I’d keep the ball rolling and actually write a blog post on the blog, instead of just in my head.

So much, yet so little, has been happening. Though I had a win today: A year 7 boy came up to me at the end of the class this morning and said, “I never thought I’d say this, but English is the BEST class!”

Readers who’ve been with me for a while may recall that I bought a house for myself for Christmas in 2015 and moved to a beachside suburb further out along the train line, in preparation for my house to be torn down. Well, the house is still standing and my youngest son, Evan20, has been living there all this time. However, the power and gas are getting turned off tomorrow and Evan20 will be moving back with David23 and my good self. Personally, I think he’ll be thrilled to be moving back home. I’m positively delightful to live with. (Plus, he has Poppy, Jeff, Scout and Daphne to cuddle.) Imagine, having had almost a year’s worth of independence when you’re 20, then moving back in with the Parental Unit. He’ll be so happy…

I’ve gone back to teaching full-time and I like all of my classes, thankfully. I have 2 year 7 English classes who are bright and bubbly, a year 8 English class who are almost robotically well-behaved, a year 12 Theatre Studies class and a year 9 English Skills class. This last group are the kids who need more help in English. For some unknown reason, I have them on the last 2 periods of the week – the two periods where no-one wants to work, particularly on the bits and bobs like grammar, punctuation and spelling. It’s been 3 weeks now and so far no-one’s killed anyone. I’m keeping the lessons fast and entertaining and they’re a nice group of kids, though you have to watch ’em like a hawk.

My year 12 class is working on the play ‘Twelve Angry Men’, which I’m so excited about. I’ve wanted to do this play for 3 years and up till now the kids haven’t chosen it. They’ve changed the name to ‘Twelve Angry Jurors’ because more than half of them are female. It’s coming along really well and I think they’ll do a good job. 🙂

I thnk that’s enough for today. Cheers! 🙂

 

Posted in Quality of life, School | 3 Comments

Back to reality.

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Sadly, the school term has started and I’m back at work. My holidays were pretty much spent in a haze of reading, Netflix, reading from a screen and then beach walking. A nap, then back to reading again. It was heaven.

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Scout is growing like a weed. She and the cavaliers are a happy little unit. We used to get heaps of comments about how pretty the cavaliers are whenever we were out walking, but now they’re completely ignored and it’s all about Scout.

The development of the old house has still not begun. Evan20 is moving out next week and then the coast will be clear for the house to be demolished. It’s been dragging on for so long I can hardly believe that soon the building will start.

Ah well! The start of a new year!

Thermomix recipe: Green Olive and Butter Bean Dip

Finance article: How much you will earn and spend in your lifetime.

 

Posted in backyard beach, pets | 2 Comments