Get Ready For Summer 2024!

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Did you have a good Memorial Day Weekend? I heard on the radio that it was one of the busiest travel days ever. Boy, am I glad we stayed home. I hate traveling when the airports are so busy. Anyway, it was too early for us to travel far because school is still in session. We didn’t take a local trip either. The weather is usually cold and rainy in Portland at the end of May. We learned years ago to never go camping before Independence Day. It’s too cold and rainy to sleep in a tent now. Yes, we’re getting soft in our old age. This year, we opted to stay home and have a relaxing BBQ. We’ll head to Japan after the school year is over.

End of 7th grade

The Memorial weekend means the end of the school year for many students. Congratulations to all the graduates out there! Don’t miss my best advice to new college grads. As for the younger kids, enjoy summer break! You don’t have many of these left before life gets real. That’s what I tell our son.

Unfortunately for RB40Jr, he still has 3 weeks of school left. 7th grade has been good for him. He is more familiar with the school and teachers. He also made many new friends and that’s always helpful. Last year was tough because he loved his elementary school and moving to a new middle school was a big adjustment.

This year was a busy year for RB40Jr. His class held a mock trial and he was the closing persecutor. It was pretty cool to see the kids dressed up and arguing in “court.” RB40Jr did okay and his team won. However, the girls on the defense were so much better. They prepared more and argued their case well. Unfortunately, the jury decided for the prosecution. I think it’s great the kids had a chance to learn more about our legal system.  

Another fun assignment was to make a trailer for a movie set in the Middle Ages. This weekend, RB40Jr and his friends met up at the park and made several hilarious clips. They are editing it now. The kids had a ton of fun together. The clips are ridiculous, but they are so funny. I think they’ll get a good grade just for the laughs. Sorry, I can’t show the clips here because other kids are in it.

Talking about school, I’m taking an Intro to Ceramics class at the community center this quarter. It’s great. I’m learning so much. There are 2 weeks left and I’m trying to push as many pieces through as possible. It’s easy to make pottery from clay at home, but it’s hard to get them fired in a kiln. There is an alternative, though. I learned that you can fire pottery in a pit or a barrel. Over the weekend, I tried firing a bowl in our new fire pit. I’ll pull it out on Tuesday and see if it works. From what I understand, the survival rate is pretty low for this kind of firing. Pottery is a lot of fun. I’m enjoying it tremendously.

Memorial Day 2024

Alright, we had a nice sunny Memorial Day. RB40Jr invited a couple of friends over and we had a fun BBQ. I got 2 racks of ribs, 4 bunches of greens, 5 bags of chips, corn, and drinks. Yum! I had a great time relaxing outside.

Ahhh… This is the life. Why go anywhere when you can man the grill at home.

Backyard firing

I’m taking a ceramic class because I want to make some chawan, the Japanese matcha tea bowls. They are really neat because you don’t need to be perfect. A misshaped chawan is valued even more than perfectly shaped pieces. I’m having a blast making these bowls.

The difficult part of pottery is firing them. Clay is very fragile after they dries out. You need to harden them by firing. After the first firing, you can glaze them and fire again at a higher temperature. The community center has 3 kilns and they do the firing for students. This is great, but how do I fire my pottery after the class is over? The local studio charges around $10 to fire one piece. That’s pretty expensive.

One alternative I found is to fire pottery in your backyard. Recently, I got a fire pit so this is perfect. I can try firing a bowl and enjoy a fire.

My poor bowl got whacked by a wok when it was drying in the oven. Mrs. RB40 was putting away the wok without looking in the oven first. If you’re Asian, you know what the oven is for. Hahaha. Anyway, let’s proceed with the experimental backyard firing. There is nothing to lose now.

I wrap the bowl in aluminum foil with banana peels, corn husks, dried seaweed, and various random scraps from the compost bin. Supposedly, these could provide some coloring. In the middle of the fire pit, I put a layer of charcoal and wood. Then I placed my package on top.

Unfortunately, it did not go well. The bowl shattered into many pieces after about an hour. I think this isn’t the right clay for pit firing. Also, the fire probably got hot too fast. Oh well, live and learn. Next time, I’ll add more sand to the clay and slow down the fire somehow.

Did you have a good weekend? What did you do to kick off the summer?

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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. After 16 years of investing and saving, he achieved financial independence and retired at 38.

Passive income is the key to early retirement. This year, Joe is investing in commercial real estate with CrowdStreet. They have many projects across the USA so check them out!

Joe also highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. They have many useful tools that will help you reach financial independence.

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