Friday, 8 December 2017

Running

Today I have completed my fifth walk-run in two weeks.

I run in a pair of white running shoes that are almost unused but at least eight years old. Surprisingly, they seem to function well (normally running shoes only lasts a few years due to material deterioration, regardless if used or not).
Because it is winter, I use hiking socks as running socks. They are padded for toes, heals and shaft but mesh in the instep and top. (I think I bought three for €7 in 2016).
For running trousers I keep my indoor yoga-exercise trousers on and they are at no less than ten years old, probably closer to fifteen. When I go out, add my lined sports trousers from the early 1990's. They are bright blue and bulky but keep warm and dry quickly (and I already have them which is the most important thing.)
While it is cold, I will use cotton t-shirts and fleece sweaters to run in (I am rather warm wet than cold dry). When the weather gets warmer, I'll switch to a quick dry short sleeved and a long sleeved top/jacket to run in (that is if I keep this running lark up until the weather gets warmer).
Over that I put a bright green wind breaker of a fancy brand with a slight oil stain that I bought for €2 in the second hand shop fall of 2017. (I have recorded the buy in my list of bought clothes in 2017, but I have not yet updated it on-line.) It has been a real treat! It keeps me nice and airy while also being light weight and cheerful. Under it, I wear the sports-bra from 2016 (the only surviving sports-bra in the house).
I also wear fleece gloves and a fleece hat (which also holds in place my head phones connected to my phone for the running program). My hair, that nobody sees, is in two pig-tails with elastics off the street.

Wearing white shoes, bright blue trousers, bright green jacket and black gloves and hat with my red cheeks - I am a cheerful sight in the park. Not that anybody cares - everybody just try to run a little bit, move a little more and live slightly better, possibly longer.

I use the free NHS Couch to 5 K program, more information here. I add lights and reflexes if I go after dark. So far no injuries. I could pat myself on the back, but completion is not entirely due to willpower - the man usually comes with me to keep me running. If you keep up your movements without support, you are better than me.

I want another sports-bra, and possibly new running shoes by the summer, but nothing is really needed until then. Free is good.

Monday, 4 December 2017

FI36,14

On the first day of each month I calculate my assets. I count all assets but exclude pension right, the apartment where I live and any assets that I can not control yet. Divided with my annual budget this amounted to 36,14 years. This is less than last month even though I still work and have had savings but it doesn't worry me too much. Knowing that there are assets available for my modest and frugal lifestyle for 36,14 years (with the hope that future price increases will be covered by interests and dividends from investments) is mentally very soothing. I share my life but not my money with the man. He will reach financial independence sometime during next year (when FI reaches 25). Not that it will change his working habits in any way but it is comforting

Health-wise the month has gone from bad to better. The heart condition is almost under control and I am back at work half time. There are good and bad days but it works out so far and I feel optimistic for next year. I am on partial sick leave for the rest of the year just not to force anything. This gives time for lots of serious work including cognitive behavioural mental training, relaxation lessons, breathing exercises, yoga and daily physical training. And knitting. Knitting is very good soothing.

The last week I have added running to the daily exercises and walks. Four expeditions with interval running in the park, most of them together with the man (he is a proper runner) and it is really nice. I don't like jogging but running fast as the wind is fun (for the minute or so that I can do it). Weight wise I have managed to come down to the weight I had when I was between 25 and 40. I will try to keep it so officially the dieting is finishing. (I call this weight -5 kg, meaning it is 5 kg less than the amount I would never go past although I was +6-9kg at the beginning of the year. It has been hard work and although I am no longer following the NHS Weight loss that I used to, I will stay mostly vegetarian with two fish a week. (Cake and mayonnaise only if home and self-made.))

The growing season of the year ended recently with the harvest of the last chilli peppers. Lots of learning and experiences and even some edibles. The freezer is filled with frozen mint for the winter. This year I only planted from existing old seeds and the outcome was mediocre. The tomato seeds did the best though, even when years out of date. We have made a list of things we can and will plant in the future (and an even longer list of what not to attempt again).
Indoor plants have now come in off the balcony and the outdoor plants have been covered up. The temperamental bougainvillea (aka the hysterical teenage girl) of course threw a tantrum by being placed in the kitchen (our coldest room in the winter). She lost all leaves and flowers on the day when only I was at home. I swear, it looked like I had had a go at her with a chain saw. She does not like change. (Not to worry, we've seen it all before and she'll be fine again by next summer.)

In late February 2010 (in the Valentines sale after I had moved into an apartment with a bathtub) I bought a bath kit that also included a brand-name ladies shaver with several blades. For some reason that razor has not gone dull until now although I have used it continuously. But this month, November 2017, it has been replaced with an equally branded razor with several blades. If it lasts another seven years I will be fine until the year 2024. Then I can use the replacement blades for another seven years. (If each head lasts seven years, the thing will end up costing me €0,60 per year and I will not have to bother until 2030 or so. That will be enough.) This replacement razor is the most important buy this month. There is very little is on the shopping list for next year with the exception of more (and smaller sized) sports clothes and the dream of a new (to me) bicycle.

We don't celebrate christmas or any other religious holidays this month. Bu we have set up candles and hung more lights and winter decorations to fight the winter darkness while we dream of spring.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

FI36,58

On the first day of every month, I look at my assets, calculate my net worth and count out my financial independence number by dividing the net worth with my estimated annual budget.

Currently the FI-number is 36.58. This means I can live over 36 years within my current annual budget without income, provided the interests and dividends from my assets correlate to the expected price increases (which would consequently establish a need to increase the annual budget or adjust the life style appropriately if possible).

The high FI-number is really good and soothing news as I am currently on sick leave. The galloping of my heart took over my life and although there was no need to call an ambulance (although I am always prepared with nice underwear if it should happen again), work became an impossible task. After a few weeks under the covers, I am now back on half-time and it is so far working well. I spend the reduced hours on doing lots of mental exercises and studying project and people management to find ways to contribute to solving some of the problems at work. Work has been helpful, and although competence could be higher, they mean well and want solutions that work for everybody. My university studies have been put on the back burner (not a good place for a final thesis but a suitable place for it due to the circumstances). I feel a slight increased interest to return to my stack of papers but I will let it simmer for yet a little while.

I am keeping up the physical exercises however and I can now do more than 60 sit-ups and 20 push-ups in a row. I do do many more exercises but I use those as measuring tools. The man has developed even more than me and now has the body his 16 year old self dreamed about (not bad for 52). Considering that I last fall worked diligently to learn how to do push-ups and finally managed to do one (that is 1, I repeat 1) proper push-up, I count this progress as a complete success.

The weight target has also been a success. The +/-0 kg target aimed to come down to the weight I never was to go above, was after hard work during the spring and summer eventually achieved. With the almost automatic continued weight loss due to the new lifestyle (increased general physical activities and portion control), I am currently on -4 kg.
In total compared to the all time high, I have lost 14 kg (I am guessing this is about 28-30 pounds for the non-Europeans, including the want-to-be non-Europeans ;) ). This of course means nothing to anybody else (but you can easily figure out your own target) but for me it means that all my clothes fit, fit well or have become too large. Even some of my shoes are too large.
If I lose another kilo and keep it off, I will be back on the weight I without effort kept through my entire working life until promoted. (As a student, I was 10 kg lighter, and as a teenager, another 10 kg less. With my length-wise over-sized body, that was natural and healthy for me but not fashionable.)
Anyway, I am now keeping my weight, eating normally and only measuring the amount of physical activity I get in the week. I aim to keep the daily exercises, the daily walk and the weekly longer and harder event.

The last months has also seen me in my mothers county several times, even in my mothers presence (although not too much to general relief). The family was gathered around a coffin and were, in the way traditional for my family, joined together yet again. The drama was kept to a minimum while the number of paper tissues consumed in a single hour reached world record levels. Some good things came out of it however. There is a general joy for the baby to be born into the family early next year, (the first in twenty-five years), as well as the progression of several plans to meet up in the future without coffins.

With all that has been going on, my reduced income, a cancelled project for the man and some shakes in the stock markets, we pulled the plug on all travel plans for the forthcoming months for financial reasons. Not that there is any reason to pity us. In 2017 we spent a month in Lisbon and I had almost three weeks in Paris. We did a week together in my mothers country with a few days doing nice things and we had no less than two week long cycling-camping vacations during the summer. We will be staying at home, recuperating, recovering and working as much as we can the rest of the year (the man just got a replacement project too so he's happy.) We have bought national museum passes, allowing free or discounted access to most museums in the country, and will look into all the wonderful free events our home town is providing us. After all, we live in Amsterdam, the world's safest, most progressive and most beautiful capital. To keep our spirituality up as the pagan atheists that we are, we read daily a page in Bruce Lee's manual to martial arts which is based on Zen and mindfulness (while trying to learn how to beat the crap out of a sand-bag).

I sometimes miss blogging and I often write posts about inventorying, assessing, budgeting and clearing out, in my head. I read some bloggers with irregular intervals but am often too lazy to comment. This has to do with the concentration problems caused by the heart issue, not from a lack of interest. I often applaud your progress, events and stories. There might be an odd post from me with something that I have thought of, but I only aim for a post on the first of the month in the foreseeable future.

ps. I have a new (to me) tea mug. It is bright yellow and makes me very happy!

Monday, 2 October 2017

FI35,45

The stock market where my assets are invested, is back up and running fast fast fast after last months dip.
The total financial independence value is 35,45 years - meaning the total amounts of assets divided with my annual budget.

It sounds nice but with a new administrative system, a new HR department, a dearly beloved dead relative and the fact that I broke my favourite tea mug in half, not everything is rosy.
Not even the weather.

There are good things.
I try to focus on the good things.

My weight is good. -3,5 kg. Meaning 3,5 kg under the weight that I promised myself I would never go above. In total since March I have sliced off about 10 kg.
With another 2 kg off, I will be back to my pre-40 years of age weight.

And I have some money.
That is always nice.

Friday, 1 September 2017

FI30 or so

The international stock markets are coming down and the current value of all my investments and assets are going down with it.
It is not pleasant but it is expected and it does enable some interesting purchases of shares that even I find affordable now.
I normally calculate my financial independence number - or my assets - on the first of every month, but not this month.
I see it drop on all accounts and I just can't be bothered at the moment. It will drop until it can drop no more and the will be nothing to do about it. Everything I hold is bought for long term so I am not selling anything. Just close my eyes and go and stare into the sunshine.

I am also travelling for work, living in an unrealistic bubble of hotel, trains and heavy mashinery, working 7am-11pm and having random meetings with random people.

It will be fine, I will stick my head into the sand financially for another month.
Later this month, I'll have a look at it.
Now: life, work and the thesis professor is calling. 

Monday, 28 August 2017

Trash

The trash gods have been very generous lately. Particularly the trash gods of Paris provided astonishing gifts and contributions. I am very grateful and not at all ashamed.

There is a wealth of opportunities in other people's trash put out on the curbs, in the garbage found on the roads and in free-stuff-boxes.
Personally, I only take what I like and can use. Others gather what yet other people will like and can use. Together we reuse and reduce the environmental impact of other peoples consumption so it is a worthy cause. And frugal.

In Paris, I found and rescued:
Bag of skin-care samples including eye-cream, day-cream and a bottle of serum for the older skin. (Perfect for my skin type, a brand that I like but had never heard of and the total value is around €80 retailed). The carrier bag was dirty but it still had the tissue paper in it when I found it so the content was clean. I am completely over-whelmed with this find. I have never ever before found anything similarly fantastic and it is truly the star-find of my life.

Red unused vintage (style of 1960s) dress that fits me perfect (or will when I have taken it in and adjusted it some; I'll show a picture when it is done.) The dress is my style with sleeves and high neck-line with an almost knee length skirt. It comes out of an obscure French haute-couture house and is in such a gigantic size that even I can fit everything of me into it and still have room to tailor it to my body.

Dark blue denim jeans with zippered pockets. I have not worn blue jeans in thirty years but these are long enough for my long legs, slightly hip-er than anything I would buy and very comfortable so I am happy with them. Oh, and free. They were dirty on the knees but never washed so clearly only used once. The dirt came out with a simple laundry circle.
From the same stack of neatly folded trousers which were put on the street for anybody who needed them, I also took a pair of checkerd trousers, currently slightly too small in the waist which is nice, and a pair of summer trousers that I since then have lost the liking of, so they will be moved onto a charity shop. I left all the trousers that were not my style for somebody else.

Blue and white rugby shirt with 3/4 sleeves and cropped on the hip as used by bicyclists. It also came from the stack with the trousers. It has a logo for a local cycling team, the colour is good and it too was almost unused. It serves me well for summer evenings when it gets colder. I had nothing similar so even if I did not really need another sweater and never would buy something in cotton, I am very happy with this.

Two pairs of sunglasses, both brown. One authentic pair of RayBan which is my favourite style although I have never ever owned anything by the brand itself. Also one no-logo pair, more rectangular, which is the one I prefer. This means that the total cost of all sunglasses in five years is still €7,20 and now I most certainly do not need to buy sunglasses for a long time.

Now, the trash gods only need to provide me with a new sports-bra and I will be set for clothes and stuff for the year.

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Internet free

I have broken a personal best.
My new record is now eight days in a row without internet activity.
I did not log on anywhere for anything or look at any screen.

Being out cycling in the wilderness with a not so smart phone as the only tool for connection, helped.

We have spent eight days cycling across the wildest parts of the Netherlands. It means that there were uninterrupted  kilometres of forestry and wild heather and sand dunes. But also that there would be a café serving coffee and apple-cake at suitable intervals and villages with public transport and super-markets throughout the day. Camp-sites almost everywhere. It is difficult to camp wild here, it is so densely populated, but easier by being member in an organisation who provides access to simple, rustic camp-sites off the tourist comfort routes. Which we are, so our camp-sites are non-commercial, rustic and almost peaceful areas to camp in.

Sleeping out seven nights in a row with more than unstable weather requires some skills and resilience. We only brought two cycle bags each and had our trusted tent rolled up on top of one of the bicycle bags. Me again on my city bike, the man on his touring bike.

The total costs came to €267 for two which is more than I expected since it only contained one meal in a restaurant (well worth it as we happily ate our way through a large lunch while the thunderous rains passed). However, there was a lot of cake and anyway, €134 per person for eight days of vacation is acceptable.

I also spent €32 on a new, very needed pair of walking shoes and €15 on a high-tech, brand-named exercise t-shirt in a lovely colour that fits me perfectly. Both were worn immediately, actually, the new shoes replaced the old straight in the shop. Both on sale, both with extra reductions on the sale-price as it the last weeks of sales.

I also spent €10 (over the top expensive) for a bicycle mechanic who early Monday morning replaced my broken break wire, again giving my bicycle breaking abilities. I was happy to pay an over the top price as he fit the five minute job into his already planned day before he started on everybody else's bicycle and we could cycle on.

Coming back to the internet after eight days, there was very little of news, messages or emails that felt important to read or respond to. The lesson learned is that living in the real life, in real time with real people is good, and enough for a good life.

Although I am supposed to be off blogging and mostly off the internet, I am apparently still reporting my spending and inventories on-line.
After eight days, I also came back with a number of blogg posts in my notebook.

Friday, 25 August 2017

Trousers2017

With the weight reduction, I fit into all my trousers again.
Some of them I can fit with a thick sweater tucked into the waist band. Some now sit on the hip.
All, however, need a belt to stay up.
Several have already been taken in with wedges sewn into the waist band or had the waist taken in in the back (if they have mid-back seam.) Not all of them can however be taken in as much as I need.
My trouser stack is rapidly shortening, and nothing fits perfectly. 

I have raided (with permission) the man's trouser stack.
Five years ago I gave him -lent him to use- the jean's in his waist size that I no longer fitted into.
You see, the man and I have the same trouser size. Length and waist. We also like the same style of jeans. However, years ago when we met, I had already gained an inch (and since then, another inch) and could no longer fit into the jeans I had. So he could have them, to use.

Now I fit into them again and I got them back. They are even slightly on the big side, and slightly worn. I have an eye on all his other jeans, and he is invited to use mine (as several of them are men's trousers anyway). I am however told in no uncertain terms that his brand new G-star Raw jeans are off-limits. (They are probably too big for me anyway, but they are really cool so it may not stop me. "Off!", the man said. "Meow", I said, "I just want to touch, meouuw, just touchy.")

So the jeans with waist sizes, both one inch and two inches larger than currently needed, are folded up into my "fat-bag". I am not throwing them away. Who knows if I manage to keep the weight off when winter is coming? They can come in handy for mid-winter, who knows. Unfortunately, this also includes my BRAND NEW Levi's jeans I bought just this autumn. They are too big in the waist but there was then no way I could know that I would manage to do this transformation by now, and hey, at least I will have a very nice pair of jeans waiting for me if I do gain weight back on.
I do not keep clothes that currently does not fit me in my wardrobe. When I dress and something does not fit me, it is NOT hung back into the wardrobe. I just fold it up, not always neatly, and push it into the fat bag. (The fat-bag is zipped up and lives in the back of the man's walk-in closet together with tents and extra pillows. Easy to get to, difficult to take out.)

In Paris, the trash-gods also gave me a pair of dark-blue (that I never wear) denim jeans with zippers and seams in odd places. They are according to the labelled size not supposed to fit, but they are long enough and although slightly too large in the waist, fit well enough to use. And also almost brand new! I spent almost the entire second week in Paris in these jeans. The trash-gods also provided a nice pair of grey glen-checked thicker trousers that are currently too small in the waist, but since I own no "thin clothes" any longer, they came home with me as they are long enough for me.

I am left with the following trousers:
2 off-white (previous suit) trousers
2 linen trousers, one black, one white
3 office/suit trousers, barely used
1 Levi's 501, black (returned by the man)
1 Levi's 715, black
1 Shaft black which got a new zipper after they were bought in the second hand shop.
1 dark-blue denim Paris trousers
3 hiking trousers
1 pair of skorts
1 pair of shorts (the ones that was really ill-fitting before, now sit very nicely on my hips)

Into the fat bag have gone:
1 brand new Levi's 501, black
1 old much worn, bum almost falling out, Levi's 501, black
1 hot pink skinny chinos, a street-find that just can not be taken in enough to fit
2 pairs of shorts that need suspenders as well as a belt to stay up

In the thin bag, I have a pair of dark grey thicker glen-checked trousers that I have ambitions to fit over my belly (when the belly is smaller than now. I mean if the belly ever gets smaller than now).

Into the on the way out-bag went:
2 very worn black office, previous suit, trousers that were very comfortable to wear around the house but are so worn that I really should not go out in them, not even to the corner-shop.

So, still I have no need for trousers. Trousers are on the NO BUY list.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Paris 2017 costs

For my personal records and potentially also for some general interest, this is a report on expenses for spending almost three weeks in Paris.

The first trip was to pet-sit five days for friends of friends. Total amount of money spent included an excruciatingly expensive ride on the fast-train (also late both directions) and was probably around €350.

The second trip, just two weeks later, was to cat- and garden sit for an old colleague while the family went on August vacation (just like all French people try to avoid and still do).
The man could spend the first week in Paris too. We worked most mornings and after lunch or early afternoons we went out to walk the town and the surrounding areas.
The first week, including two museum fees (covering three museums) we spent in total €313,09 for two, including one sushi dinner and one dinner at a lovely Mauritian restaurant. The total cost has been included in our running budget and paid through our bucket system.

The man had to go back home for work so the second week I was left on my own. I was on vacation from my job so I left the house and the cat early in the morning, returned late in the evening and spent the entire day in the manuscript room of the Bibliothèque National - Richelieu frustrating over spidery handwriting in huge ledgers from hundreds and hundreds of years ago. One day and the weekend I roamed the town, walking from morning until evening, or until I could handle no more, and then went home for dinner and cat.
That second week I spent €105, not including the €20 fee to access the research part of the Bib, nor the international bus that cost me €53 round trip but took time. The sum however does include metro tickets (ten single tickets for €14,90), coffee (costing €0,4 in the machine or €3,5 at any hippy corner café) and food (from supermarket, always taking food with me for the day, usually a can of lentils and fruit, buying fresh bread (€1-2) from a baker in the afternoon as a supportive or restorative afternoon snack. In Paris, you can still walk down the street with a baguette in one hand, ripping pieces of it, stuffing the warm bread in you mouth. However, you can not ever bite straight down into you baguette! ("Infidel!", said nobody ever because in Paris most don't care.)

I paid my accommodation by feeding and watering cats, dogs and gardens, so there were no further costs for our in total 19 days in Paris; July and August 2017.

By the way, I noted that during the second and last week, I was stopped by French people no less than three times asking for directions. I still can not speak modern French properly to save my life but apparently I made myself fit in quite nicely. (It probably helps carrying a computer bag.)
The trash gods were also very generous in Paris. I'll tell about the French finds some other time.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Salt dispenser

For Jenn and others with interest,
This is our new salt dispenser.  (Not a promotion for any manufacturers or brands of salt, although, Hurray for companies who sell products in practical, refillable and reusable containers.)

Why is this special?
It is an anniversary salt dispenser for the company's 80th year.

I also add a picture of the cat I was pet-sitting in Paris for two weeks.