March 2009

Actually, not half but now the whole portfolio to be refinanced, which will give us enough capital to lean on it until the Outback IT Service gets up and running. I want to have all of our ducks in a row, so to speak, so that WE have the power to make the call on when we break out of here. Get the bus down here and take some test runs, find out what needs to be packed where, how everything works, where everything is, and so on.  Then there are questions of how much we take and what we put into storage. And then there’s the timing. Exciting, to say the least.

In the meantime, we wait. I have asked my friend (and our finance broker) Mary, to apply for the maximum loans on all of the properties, which should (depending on current valuations) give us enough to not only buy the bus, but also to operate it for about a year and keep the portfolio ticking over. Which gives us a year out on the road to ramp up the Outback IT Service business and start making enough that we can pay for running costs and the property shortfall. If we can keep that up for a few years, we have half a chance of getting to the point where the portfolio pays us an income, as rent returns continue to rise.

Mary (in their ACT Office) has found a deal through her parent company, Professional Mortgage Providers, whereby the lender provides us with a rebate each month equivalent to 0.5% off the annual rate. Given that all the loans will be very tight, the rebate for each loan will be applied back to itself, to start to slowly bring down the loan amount. This will also help our cash flow. And if all else fails, we’ll go drive big dump trucks in the mines. Or perhaps I’ll fix their computers while Julie drives trucks. Apparently, they now prefer women drivers because they are kinder to the trucks.

Just back from our extra long Canberra Day long weekend at Broulee with our neighbours Tim & Lily. We took the Friday off and actually travelled down in daylight, which meant that we also had time to stop at Pooh Corner for a change. It’s a small stopping area on the way down the Clyde Mountain that has a small cave that is often filled with bears, large and small.

It was a weekend of bursts of activity like walking and swimming, followed by periods of relaxing inactivity.

One highlight was a trip further down the coast to Narooma to visit Tim’s sister Margaret at her gorgeous B&B in the town.

While there, we indulged ourselves by buying some fresh fish, lobster and prawns. It was so fresh and tasty that frozen seafood will never have the same appeal. There was even enough left-over fish and steak that we got together again after we got home, to barbecue them.

Friday the 13th was certainly a special day for this household this month, as Julie was scheduled for her Citizenship Ceremony. We contacted Brooke & Paul, and invited Brooke up for the day to “stand in” for April, and she was very excited to be invited. We collected her from the airport and had enough time to get back into Civic to be early. Our other guests were Leon & Ruth Tannahill, who have been wonderful friends for a very long time, and Mary Abbey, friend and finance broker. The ceremony proceeded as you would expect it to, with just enough dignity, legalities, ceremony and humour to make it “about right”.

Then we proceeded to treat Brooke to a quick tour of Parliament House, lunch at the National Library (where Tim works in the cafe), and hospitality at our place. Thanks from both of us to those friends who came along and made the day so special,

The garden continues to prosper.

As I write this, Julie is in Seattle, where she should have well and truly surprised April for her birthday. We had heard from Mikey that he was planning a surprise party for her 30th, so Julie decided that she would be an extra part of the surprise. I took her to Sydney on my regular trip to get my back worked on and will collect her again on Thursday morning. Meanwhile, she’s hoping to spend a couple of days with her parents and a day with April & Duncan. Happy Birthday, April. I hope it was a pleasant surprise.

Wow, time flies. She’s home again after 5 days away (only 3 for her). She spent some good quality time with her parents and lots of extra good quality time with April & Duncan, with some chats with Mikey thrown in for good measure. I had a 5:30 start to collect her from the airport and we got back about 1:30pm. Not surprisingly, she’s exhausted, but happy that she accomplished so much in such a short time.

Saturday, Julie has now slept for about 15 hours straight and appears to be normal again, or at least as “normal” as she’s ever going to be. Ouch, I can feel the slap on the back of the head now. We had a baby magpie in our courtyard today, squarking away wanting to be fed, which sounds typical of babies, huh? Which meant that the parents weren’t far away. The mother wandered off towards the front door and the baby was initially very curious and came towards us as I took photos with the old camera, none of which came out well. By the time I had retrieved my good camera from the car, mother and baby had gone, but father was sitting on the fence looking VERY regal. I took a few pictures and then had a bit of chat with him, saying that he and his family were welcome any time and that I would make sure that Kelly would not harm them. I picked up this idea some time ago from the Winged Hearts website. Thanks Gitie! Anyway, this majestic fellow cocked his head to one side and listened to what I had to say.

That night, we celebrated Julie’s return to the land of the not quite so cheap, by inviting Bob & Jen, and Leon & Ruth over to share in Julie’s beef ribs and garden salad, followed by home made apple crumble, using up the last of the apples from our own tree.