Staying stoic in the face of the Christmas maelstrom

Hi All

Before I load up this post, I am going to put pictures of ‘stuff’ that we have been doing lately and places that we have been. There is nothing more boring than a massive great post with no pictures in it…especially when the postee is having a bit of a Christmas whinge (Bah humbug! :o) I know that they are NOTHING to do with the post, but count yourselves lucky that I am actually thinking about you and your blog reading enjoyment

I love going to op shops. I love finding things that are unusual and that we might be able to use for other projects. Today we dropped off a lot of things that we were going to donate for free to anyone that wanted them. We tried Gumtree but despite 208 looks, most people didn’t want to contact us regarding the items and they were not rubbish either. We ended up phoning up the Exeter Tresca Community Centre and donating the lot to them. We no sooner got there than someone bought one of the items that we donated do at least they will make some money to help some unfortunate people out there. I was listening to the radio on the way back home and the DJ was talking to someone from one of the charity’s that service Northern Tasmania. They were saying that there are so many people that are going to have less than a merry Christmas this year. I truly feel for families doing it tough, especially at this time of year. The problem is that there are so many people ripping off the system. A lot of them on welfare and collecting all sorts of benefits and shamelessly ripping off these charities. I am not talking about genuine people here. Centrelink is NOT a huge amount of money and people having to live on it are genuinely under the pump to simply make ends meet, let alone save up anything towards celebrations etc. I am talking about people that ‘milk’ the system. I am aware of many of them and I believe in Karma and one day “what goes around comes around” will affect every last one of them. It does, however, make it more likely that people will think twice before donating to Christmas trees for the disadvantaged and needy. When you see the recipients lined up with the latest mobile phones, packets of cigarettes in the back pocket of their $200 Jean’s West jeans and driving better cars than the average working family can even think about. How do you know who you are helping?

This is Tresca. Its a lovely old homestead that borders on the Exeter High School’s Agricultural venture. Just over to the right, out of sight is the little thrift shop that I love to visit and that we have been donating all of the ‘stuff’ to. It’s a ‘community house’ where you can take classes in just about anything that you want to teach. Here’s the website to explain a bit more about Tresca if you want to find out more

I am probably not going to donate to a Christmas appeal this year. I am probably going to look for someone out there that looks like they need a hand. I might buy someone a cup of coffee and Danish. I might pay for someone’s fuel that looks like they need a hand. I might do something else anonymous that could give someone a bit of a lift or put a smile on their face to know that some anonymous stranger out there really does give a damn. THAT is what Christmas is about…not all of this bollocks spending more than you can afford. I have a real problem with commercial Christmas. It’s a big fat lie. It’s all designed to bolster profits for shops and nothing to do with Jesus, Santa or anything else that we tend to associate with Christmas. Personally I think that the real meaning of Christmas has been trivialised beyond belief. It’s getting together with your family and thanking the good lord that you are still alive and well at the end of the year! It’s nice to get gifts, but it’s not nice to suffer from a credit card bill with the ensuing interest for 2 years to come. No-one needs the latest gizmos and technology, we just need to learn to say “no” to ourselves and that is most probably the hardest person to say “no” to.

Here are some other creatures that it’s hard to say ‘NO!’ to sometimes. We took these photo’s in a lovely park in Longford, a very old town with some lovely architecture but more important to us, a lot of lovely old trees and plants. Here is Earl, inspecting this ancient old oak tree

And here is Bezial joining him (one in ALL in!)

We were most interested in how this old tree has managed to brace itself. See that branch above Earl’s head? It is attached back into the next part of the trunk. Very clever Mr Tree and a good way to make sure that you don’t split asunder in the next storm

Getting back to the bargains that I got at the op/thrift shop today…I picked up a nice bamboo antipasto tray made of bamboo with 3 small stainless steel cups inserted into the tray. I can use it for antipasto on Christmas day. We also picked up some ‘old school’ Christmas decorations. I love wooden painted Christmas decorations and actually got a tiny Santa one at the tip shop to put on our wooden tree this year. We also bought 3 Glög cups made of unglazed terracotta on the outside and glazed in the middle. I am a sucker for terracotta at the best of times and I am sure that we can put these babies to good use with litres of glög on Christmas Eve. That should make Christmas a most interesting event indeed, especially if we keep drinking the glög all day Christmas as well!

Talking about Santa…why do perfectly normal people (at least I think they are…) decide that at Christmas time, when it’s all supposed to be about peace and joy…that they will wheel a monstrosity into their window that gyrates and who’s smile doesn’t reach his eyes to terrorise the neighbourhood elderly and children? I also saw what some person obviously thought of as a lovely Santa ensconced in someone’s window that looked more like Chucky than anything jolly. Come on people! It’s bad enough having to pay for Christmas let alone getting terrorised out of your wits to boot! My son found the most terrifying example of Santa in a Northern Shop when he was visiting us last year. If you are reading this Stewart, I pinched the photo from your Facebook page and there is NOTHING you can do about it…HA HA HA (I need to get a life…sigh…)

I think that the person that put this Santa ANYWHERE where small children could see it has some major ‘splainin’ to do! Try telling your kids why Santa is wearing suspenders…why his coat is up…why he appears to be NOT wearing any underwear…I am going to stop RIGHT THERE…just forget you ever saw this picture ok?

It’s December! Steve headed into town to pick up all of our Christmas stuff today and to post off my son’s Christmas gourmet hamper. Don’t eat it all at once Stewart or you will most probably go into some sort of a diabetic coma. If you do choose to eat it all, make sure that you are around at your Aunty Cathy’s house where you can get appropriate medical treatment. He has also just bought all of our Christmas bbq meat. We are bucking the system this year. Bollocks to hot food and sweltering over a hot oven (especially as now it’s a wood stove!) and we are going to sit out on our deck with our daughters and have a really fantastic bbq. Lots of steak, sausages, amazing things to be made out of 2kg of boneless chicken breasts (read chicken sate, chicken kebobs, marinated chicken of all nationalities etc.) accompanied by a few really lovely salads, some good home-made bread and a nice accompaniment of antipasto for those of us who don’t eat meat (that would be moi). A few mince pies, a bit of top quality vanilla bean ice-cream, perhaps a mango or two and some cherries? Who knows, as we are all hostages to having to buy our fresh fruit and veggies on Christmas week and everyone knows how expensive they suddenly get that week don’t we? All I know is that we are going to have our bbq, eat an elegant sufficiency, drink some beer, wine, punch perhaps even some glög in our newly acquired glög cups and generally have a great time sharing our wonderful lifestyle with our girls.

Here’s a few random pictures of some Sea holly’s that we bought when we were in Longford. We always stop off to check out the plant stand out the front of the Longford antique shop because it has always got lots of plants that I am MOST interested in at very good prices.

And here are the plants on offer today. They put new ones there all of the time and if I lived in Longford, Steve would certainly know where to find me come 9am most mornings :o)

The Sea holly on the left is an Eryngium agavifolium which must mean that the leaves (foliums) are like agave…I can see that :o) And to the right we have the Eryngium variifolium which is apparently very hardy and both of them are spiky and that should make them somewhat offputting to the hoardes of guzzlers around here that await with glee each new plant purchase. You just have to think smarter, not harder ;o)

I hope that you are all doing what you actually want to do this Christmas rather than having it railroaded by consumerist ‘expectations’ upon your poor addled brain and empty wallet. This time of year is for relaxing after a hard slog, NOT slaving away and emptying the prospective bank balance for another year. If we all put our fingers in our ears and closed our eyes whenever the commercials about Christmas ‘must haves’ came on, we might just be able to weather this tide with minimal damage to our savings come February when the credit card bills come in. The shops are desperate for your money this year people. Everyone is doing it tough and so are they. I guess they are just going to have to pare their produce etc. down to what we actually ‘want’ rather than what they think that we ‘need’. I know that we are going to have to pay for Australian made and for quality, but when the bank balance says ‘NO’, you can’t afford to be quibbling over someone else’s livelihood. I don’t think that the government realises that. I heard that the Labour conference (annual) is all about us selling uranium to the world…same sex marriage and allowing in another 20 000 refugees…err…excuse me labour government…did you ask any of us about what WE want? We ARE your populace and we DID vote you in. I dare say we won’t be making that same mistake again and even though Mr Abbot is a hideous little nay saying troll, he is going to ride into victory on the back of the massive public tide that is going to flow against you. You have veered so very far away from the original Labour ethos as to be unrecognisable. I actually voted for you for years. I really don’t have any idea who to vote for any more. We can’t afford 20 000 more refugees and we most certainly can’t afford our high rate of unemployment that you seem to be totally ignoring. The world is just about to topple over the brink financially and suddenly we are talking about pixies and fairy dust and happiness and economic harmony when there is no way that this is going to be the true state of affairs for most of we native Australian’s. Don’t write in and tell me that I am not a native Australian. I was born here, my parents were born here and the male representatives of my grandparents were born here as was my great grandfather on my father’s side. I consider this land to be my land and I am as much entitled to grieve for its future as this government rapes and pillages its mineral wealth and anything else of ‘worth’ at the expense of the environment, the people and everything that is truly worth it. How can they reconcile their Carbon tax whilst totally ignoring the devastation that is going to happen environmentally with all of the mining and coal seam gas exploration that they are encouraging?

Ok, that was a rant. Sorry about that people. Actually, no I am NOT sorry! More of us need to start saying something about the free reign that most of the governments in the free world seem to be taking over making decisions for their people without actually asking them what they want. Railroading a population shouldn’t be allowed. We elect these people and they should be taking everything that makes a difference to our prospective way of life to the people for a vote. Especially things like nuclear power. No WAY do we want that! It’s very hard to say no to these proffering’s when businesses are closing down all over the place. They are able to railroad them through more easily when workers need a job and are more likely to flush their ideals down the toilet rather than have their family go hungry. The local goldmine is going to shut in Beaconsfield. 200 workers will be out of work. I am sure that most of you (even anyone overseas) heard about the Beaconsfield mine collapse where one man lost his life and the other 2 got political careers out of it. That’s Beaconsfield’s 1 claim to fame. Now the mine is closing, what will happen to the town? Again, it is so much easier for governments and big business to ram through totally unacceptable ventures in times like these and I am ashamed of the labour government and the way that it is exploiting its luck (fluke luck at that) at being able to balance the books (perhaps…) to shunt these prospectively disastrous ventures on a tired and jaded populace. I would have once fought for your ideals Labour… now I am struggling to find another party to give me hope.

Here is a little ‘palate cleanser’ after that bit of an opinionated rant. Occasionally, if you choose to read this blog, you are going to come across the odd rant. It’s all part of the ambiance of Serendipity Farm. I rant…Steve twitches…together we can really get going on pretty much any controversial topic that you could throw at us, but I am trying to keep it under my hat (so to speak…I don’t own a hat…how about under my hair?…nope…it loses something in the translation) so that you don’t have to be subject to my internal old man :o)

This is a picture of the Deviot Hall. Not too long ago it was a ramshackle old hut of a building but a group of dedicated Deviotites got together and decided that their community was actually worth having and all pulled together to do up the hall. Every Saturday, for $2 a basket, you can take your excess produce, jam, worm wee (I bought 10 litres) etc. down to the Deviot Hall and sell it. We are tinkering with the idea of making some ‘stuff’ and selling it along with surplus eggs at this market. One day we might find the motivation and time to actually amass some ‘stuff’, but until we do, its just an idea to be tucked away in the backs of our minds. They have added a new deck to the hall and a heritage apple and pear orchard, all accomplished because of individuals coming together to make a formidable pathway of change. That’s all it takes. If you can get a whole pile of people together, they each don’t really have to do very much, the event can be fun and some amazing transformations can be accomplished. Check out this website to see a VERY good idea and a great way to learn about permaculture (for free) AND get your garden “Permablitzed” all rolled into one. I think most states have this system and if your game and up to it, it’s not a bad idea to help out for 3 gardens and then get yours designed and implemented for free

Back to Christmas :o) We are a stoic lot we humans aren’t we? Cycles of depression, recession etc. and we can still pull Christmas cheer out of the bag! Bollocks to the powers that be, we are designed to have a bit of faith in the future and a degree of hope. We are designed to care about our families and our world that we live in. We were born to share, to love and to give one another comfort and help in the tough times and let’s be honest…that’s when you see a person’s true worth, when things get tough and it’s time to lend a hand. Let’s just hope that there are enough of us willing and able to do so after our government sells us out to the highest bidder…

Has anyone else out there ever thought of donating their time at Christmas to help out with some charitable organisation? I noticed a flyer on one of the local shops regarding Christmas lunch free to people who were alone or away from home on Christmas day. What a lovely idea! It’s at Beaconsfield and perhaps next year I might donate my time (I can’t speak for Steve but he might come too) and help to make Christmas lunch for our local community. There is something incredibly satisfying when you can actually help someone. Forget about all the people out there on the scrounge, I mean someone that genuinely appreciates your offer of help. Steve and I might be penniless student hippies, but we have a fair bit of time up our sleeves and with all of the horticultural knowledge that we have amassed over the last few years, surely we could help out a bit somewhere. I did notice a sign up on a notice board not so long back asking for people to help garden for elderly people who could no longer do a lot in their gardens, so that they could keep what they had worked on for many years. I think that is a most noble cause and something that I would be most proud to help do. We are just about to do a fair bit of work, moving lots of pots around to the other side of the house and re-potting a lot of smaller plants this afternoon. We might even pull out the Christmas tree and we might even get Earl to leave it alone :o) See you all tomorrow…


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. mum
    Dec 02, 2011 @ 15:42:46

    That was a good rant love! I sensed dad in there somewhere too ! You are right though. I know many people will hock themselves to the credit cards for mon ths ov er must haves. What happened to teaching kids about what is perfectly good in small ways? They start from the cradle these days, with wanting everything. Sure, we would all love to buy these expensive toys etc, but we have to put a kerb on that.When you add up how many you buy for, it gets frightening! The way the world is heading, it will be everybody tighten the belt. It was nice seeing in front of the antique shop at the plants too. I was straight back there. Tresca looks a lovely old place I’d love to have seen. At least you know all your free stuff will be finding good homes love. I’m also having a huge clear out of things I kept, but I don’t use, so the Red Cross shop is going to benefit. Just turned out more Womens Weekly cook books, so will enjoy looking through them again, as there are some really lovely recipes. Take a few things to Deviot Hall too, they will go like hot cakes! Jams, chilli jam & pickles will be popular through summer I bet.I can feel a noddy coming on, so will away to the recliner flor a bit.


  2. Roger
    Dec 18, 2012 @ 13:06:04

    Tresca was my home in 1958 when it was used for Child Migrant Children run by the Fairbridge Society.


    • narf77
      Dec 18, 2012 @ 13:50:33

      My Uncle Arthur came out in the Child Migration from the U.K. and went straight into a Fairbridge run home in Western Australia. He never talked about it but hopefully your experience at Tresca was better than his. Tresca is a community centre now and the Exeter community use it to their advantage.


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