Saturday, 20 January 2018

Asian flavours

Working to eat out the cupboards following the aim for January 2018, new food is needed and new storages are being bought.
With an eye on the opportunity to change, I proposed that we left our tomato, mushroom, onion, cheese food and moved our flavours into Asian and primarily Japanese food.

We went to tree different Asian food stores and I bought:
Udon, Somen and egg noodles
Kombo and bonito flakes
Dashi powder (the two ingredients above make dashi but I wanted to try the quick version)
Mirin, sake, sesame oil, Japanese soy (the low salt version of the only brand possible)
Rice vinegar and hosin sauce
Tofu (firm and silk) and Tempeh
Wakame and nori sheets
Rice paper for spring rolls (loempia)
White sesame seeds to roast. grind or sprinkle
I did not buy yuzu because it was a bit expensive so I will continue using regular lemon/lime juice.
I did however buy flavoured dried fish in strips because it is so tasty. Better than potato chips.

I have been experimenting and cooking Japanese (i.e. attempting to cook...) since the mid 1990s. It has taken a very long time to understand the cooking methods and ingredients. I neither read nor speak any Japanese (beyond the words Anjin-san taught me in the TV-series Shogun in the 1980s.)

My main focus is sushi and I have always especially been fascinated with the cooking of rice.
I cook sushi rice at least monthly and very often for guests (it is cheap, impressive and almost fail safe). I have all the special tools that I need (and most of them are not special but they are identified as the sushi cooking tools.

I now want to improve on my Japanese cooking and I want to experiment with flavours.
The first thing I will do is my own dashi.
What should I think of when cooking Japanese and especially dashi?

Friday, 19 January 2018


I aim to be a good human being; a just, correct, long-term wide-scoped good person.
Not nice. I despise nice. Nice is for sissies. Nice is value based and determined by the situation and feelings. I do not aim for nice. Cows are nice and look where it got them.

I came in contact with a truly good person yesterday and I have a new role model.
A letter came in the post (yes, a letter came in the post).
A letter from a complete stranger informing me that she had been sent my airline tickets to her phone and that she could not find any other information about me than my post address.
(Hooray that all the work I have done to stay off the Internet with my private details has worked.)
She gave me her phone number and it is the same as mine - with two digits swapped.
Guess who the idiot is who swapped the phone number when ordering the ticket?
Oh yes, yours truly.

Instead of cancelling the tickets, taking the money, ordering more, using them or in any other way causing trouble,
and instead of doing nothing, leaving me to suffer perpetual from my own mistakes,
this wonderful person took the time, effort and postage to write me a letter to my postal address (it was on the ticket) informing me of the situation.

I am not sure I would have bothered - but this truly good person did. I really want to be bothered and taking the time to help others.
I have a new hero, a new role model, an entirely new level of ambition for my personal life.

I sent her a text message and thanked her profusely.
She immediately responded with a funny, kind and good message.
Now we are phone number relatives and it is fascinating.

Even more fascinating is that with different phone numbers, in different phone number series, this person lives less than 40 km away from my home in Scandinavia.

Thursday, 18 January 2018


In 1992 I was a night owl together with my next door neighbour.
One night she showed me the new wallet she had just bought. Brown leather with the perfect set-up inside. It was beautiful. The leather was soft. The interior was exactly what I needed.
I wanted it. Badly.
The following day, actually probably same day in the afternoon, we set out to buy me an identical.

The shop had only ever had one and it was the one they had sold her.
I looked at her with puppy eyes but no budge. The wallet was hers. She was keeping it. 

Three months later, she did not use it any longer.
I got it.
I have used it every day since then.

Tonight I spent well over an hour in my hotel room with a sewing needle and regular sewing thread in an almost matching colour, resewing the edging that had come loose.
I looked the brand up on-line for the first time and it is nothing special, nothing exclusive.
Similar but not identical, can still be bought for €10-20.

I don't care. I already have the wallet I want and want no other.
I was going to say that I do not need another but that is not true.

I do have a second wallet. The two wallets have different jobs and content.
The brown leather wallet does not fit all euro-bills so it is only used for Scandi-money and cards.
When commuting between the countries, I switch wallets at the border.
In the Euro-zone, I use a slightly larger brown leather wallet covered in its original but very worn goat hairs. I bought it on a flea market for €2 five years ago. I commonly refer to it as the goat.
The goat keeps my Euro safe.

Monday, 15 January 2018


"                                       November 16 [1981]: Port of Spain, Trinidad

I have been monitoring my health pretty carefully and am concerned about my weight - I'm up around 200 pounds, about 35 heavier than when we got here. Dana, too, has put on weight and is nearly bursting the seams of his jeans. We'll have to cut down on the starches and sugars we've become accustomed to, and still crave.
Dana's sores and wounds are pretty well healed, though my own continue to give me problems. My two biggest salt sores, though vastly reduced in size, are still oozing fluid and, sometimes, pus. In my years of research for the trip, I read about tropical infections, and am determined to have any sores healed by the time we go into the jungle, where the heat, humidity, and foreign germs can turn a mere scratch into a major medial problem. We'll have to doctor all our bites and wounds no matter how small. Malaria and dysentery are other problems that have stopped many more experienced jungle travellers than ourselves. I have pretty good resistance to disease, but that's probably what they all say - I can see it on my tombstone: "He had pretty good resistance to disease."     "

Don Starkell and Charles Wilkins Paddle to the Amazon
(p 231 in my 1989, Prima Publishing, edition)

Sunday, 14 January 2018


In my apartment I have Venetian blinds - or rather, I have one because the apartment is so small there is only one window. (The man's apartment have only curtains and pull down blinds.)
The window is rather modern and the blind is of the same age.
However, I still managed to break off the holder for the stick last year.

Today, when I dug through a box of stuff to try and sort it out (to make the box fit into another shelf), I came across all spare parts for blinds that I kept from when I repaired all blinds in my old house before selling it (nothing adds value to a property cheaper and quicker than functioning and clean window blinds).

I wiped off the window frame, and noticed that what was needed was a stick holder, a string holder (the winding part) and a new plastic end to the string. In the box with spare parts I found a brand new stick holder and  the broken stick holder, a sting holder and five new plastic ends.
Carefully detatching the stick holder, I carefully nailed on the new one, possibly two minutes job. Unscrewing the sting holder, the identical new one was in place within thirty seconds. Then all knots on the string were slowly untied (one of my secret talents is to untie difficult knots), the old end slid out, the new slid on (in the right direction on the first try) and the place for the new knot was estimated, this took possibly up to ten minutes. The strings are not very clean and slightly frayed right where the string gets wound onto the windy sting when the blind is pulled up. Ideally the strings could be changed and also the stick could be exchanged. (I have everything needed for this job in the repair box but it will not happen now.)

I decided to make the string knot so hiding the frayed part and shortening the string slightly instead. Tying hard, cutting the ends evenly and sealing the ends with the fire of a lighter, not burning my fingers when flattening the melting ends, the plastic end was pulled down hard to cover the knot and the end. This took up to five minutes.

Then I repacked the left overs of each item in its different little plastic bag, folded up and stapled shut, repacking the box with repair items, another minutes or two It finally fitted into the shelf and disappeared from sight.
I patted myself on the shoulder for the twenty minute job well done.
Then I promptly forgot about it.

Friday, 12 January 2018

Work part 237

Dear Diary,
Today when I walked into the office, full of pro-active ideas to solve the latest administrative crisis and malfunction, I immediately got into a bad argument with my manager. I walked out of the discussion within a minute with words that this did not go well and we'll talk about it later-something.
Sitting down starting my computer, I wondered why I was there on my day off (!) to work for the clients when the company who get the money, do not treat me better.
Calmly but tear-y, I packed up my papers. I was asked in the door to stay and talk about it but left. The manager called and texted. I called back later and we talked. He apologised for his words and he is forgiven.
The reason for the argument is his frustration which is the same reason as my frustration.
The eminent need for administrative changes.

I can suggest solutions but I am not in a position to implement them, nor am I in a position where that sort of process management is in any way a part of my job description.
I am a specialist, highly qualified, autonomous and irreplaceable within current budget and operations. The problem is administrative, low-level, generic and replaceable. It is caused by the new owners of the owners of the company I am employed by.
Their work is impeding my job and I end up not only doing their job, but also verifying, and re-verifying that the result is correct. I resent it but their company culture is without personal responsibility and lacking result ambitions so that is moot.

My Financial Independence assets that with the current low frugal budget will last me over 35 years, and a pension (equally frugal) that will start paying out in 15 years, is by each week becoming much more important.
Changing jobs is difficult as I also need to change countries - but then, hey, changing countries isn't the problem. I've done that before, several times even.

So why do I not just jump the ship and jump the border?
Am I again staying too long in a bad relationship?
Let's talk about this again tomorrow, dear diary, after I have talked to all my friends and family.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Free things

After several days on the road and long days on site and many many days with fourteen hour workdays, I come home and empty my bags before next tour next week.

From among the safety gear and the dirty socks, falls packages of instant coffee, tea bags and sugar cubes, mini bottles of shampoo, conditioner and lotion, pens, wrapped biscuits, hard candies in paper and even mint chocolates, magazines, hankies and toothpicks. Travelling in rich countries is to wade through free stuff, gifts and availables. I take it all, say please and thank you and could I have another one if you wouldn't mind. Is there also one for my friend?

I take what they will give me and I will save on tooth picks, hankies, magazines, mint chocolates, biscuits, pens, sugar, tea and coffee as well as any an all things left over from what I have bought in the cheapest supermarket to eat on the road to avoid airport cafes and the train dining car. I will happily snack on a sugar cube if I can wait for my dinner until the cost drops.

I have no shame - except for stealing. Like Meatloaf, I will not do that. 

Monday, 8 January 2018


The monthly tasks for 2018 will be the following:

January: Food
Go through all leftovers and remains in cupboards, storage, freezer, and fridge. Use everything dated by the previous year, look especially at spices.
February: Jewellery and valuables
I also do my annual financial net worth calculation, estimating my annual budget and determining if it needs to be increased in February in preparation for the annual tax declaration.
March: Clothes.
Go through all clothes in the wardrobe, try everything on, hang back if it fits. Pack all clothes that doesn’t fit in a “your time will come” box. Inventory everything left in the wardrobe. Hopefully something will be left - but then if not, I had nothing to wear anyway. I will keep a list of all clothes I buy this year.
April: Camping, sports, summer equipment
Most of us are outside more in the summer time than in winter and spring. Now is the time to go through everything. Air your sleeping bags, all of them. If you don’t want to air it – do you really want that sleeping bag?
May: Kitchen
Clean every cupboard in your kitchen. That means empty every shelf in every cupboard. Only put back into the cupboard what you have used during the year, that works, is clean (cleaned) and of good quality. Put all questionable items, nicked porcelain, more than twenty plastic containers to store food in and anything else you don’t understand in your “on the way out” box.
June: Winter clothes and bedding
Clean, wax, impregnate, air and hang back into the wardrobes all cold weather or winter clothing. Air all bedding, blankets, mattresses, covers, etc.
July: Bags
Find all bags in the house, include suitcases, rug sacks, reusable shopping bags and all handbags. Don’t forget your exclusive new year’s clutch and your grand mothers handbag.
Clean each one of them. Open all compartments, empty the content and brush the lining of each pocket. How many bags do you have? Note the number.
August: Electronics
Find all things in your house that needs electricity to operate (easily recognised as it has a cable or needs batteries).
Clean your hard drive. Do a back-up of all the content to USB, dics or cloud storage. Download all photos from your phone. Print special photos. At least send the most important documents in an email to yourself.
September: Shoes
Weather is forever changing and most should get to used in a year. All shoes should fit comfortably, heeled, cleaned, sorted and have functioning shoelaces.
October: Underwear and sleep wear
All underwear, including socks, lingerie and night wear. Count it, assess each one for wearability. Put the worst ones on top after each laundry and try to wear them first, to wear them out. If you keep them for "laundry days" you will end up with only bad underwear.
November: Books
It is time for sofa and tea, to go through the book-shelf, appreciate each book you keep (re-reading it is the ultimate test although slow) or use it for references. All other books - the advice is to sell or donate which I know I will not be able to keep. I will also not be able to hold a goal of not buying any more books, or even one-in one out. But I will at least count all my books and I will keep a list of all books bought and brought in this year.
December: Presents and decorations
What are you giving away as a present? Sort holiday decorations for all seasons, Xmas, Easter, Fall, Midsummer, birthday, new year.
Buy what you need for Christmas in December at the sales in January this year - that is now! Go buy Christmas decorations. Not tempted? I don't blame you, packing it up is a pain. 

I will also work on a longer Fucket-list for 2018 - including all the things I will not do this year.
(Thanks Klahanie commenting on She who seeks for the idea!)

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Washing up liquid 2018

As predicted, January brought sales on cleaning material.
Our laundry detergent is never on sale though as it is a store brand (and we are not changing to avoid all risk if contact allergies).
But washing up liquid was 2 for 1 and we bought two.
We have no dishwasher and do all dishes by hand. Two bottles will last us a year.

 The budget on washing up liquid for 2018 is spent and closed.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

John Knightly

"The whole party were but just reassembled in the drawing-room [after dinner], when Mr Weston made his appearance among them. He had returned to a late dinner, and walked to Hatfield as soon as it was over. He had been too much expected by the best judges, for surprize - but there was great joy. Mr Woodhouse was almost as glad to see him now, as he would have been sorry to see him before.

John Knightly only was in mute astonishment. - That a man who might have spent his evening quietly at home after a day of business in London, should set off again, and walk half-a-mile to another man's house, for the sake of being in mixed company till bed-time, of finishing his day in the efforts of civility and the noise of numbers, was a circumstance to strike him deeply. A man who had been in motion since eight o'clock in the morning, and might now have been still, who had been long talking; and might have been silent, who had been in more than one crowd, and might have been alone! -
Such a man, to quit the tranquillity and independence of his own fire-side, and on the evening of a cold and sleety April day rush out again into the cold! -

Could he by the touch of his finger have instantly taken back his wife, there would have been a motive, but his coming would probably prolong rather than break up the party. John Knightly looked at him with amazement, then shrugged his shoulders, and said, 'I could not have believed it even of him.' "

In chapter thirty-five of Emma by Jane Austen (first published 1815).