The prodigal Fran returns!

Hi All,

We are sitting waiting till we can head over to Exeter. It is Monday morning January 30th and this post will most likely be read on Friday February 3rd. I have done a couple of posts for while I am away and I haven’t even gone yet. I think that there is such a thing as getting too far ahead and I might just be bordering on that right now! Last night it didn’t get below 23C and most of Tasmania sweltered in the humid hot conditions. Today it is grey and rainy and we are celebrating. If it rains enough we might not even have to water the garden! The girls haven’t watered since we left town so hopefully I had a garden to prune and not a scene of mass devastation and destruction. Oh well, if it was…I guess it will have been easier to tidy up if I take out “alive” out of the equation. I am going to drop “The Mud House” back at the library today. I gave it my best shot…I gave it 2 chances to delight and entertain me and despite the odd laugh (which sadly came from baked bean and farting jokes… that shows you how underdeveloped my sense of humour really is…) it didn’t deliver much in the way of anything other than a light bit of reading. The fact that I didn’t finish it is testament to its lightweight nature. I am NOT an intellectual reader but I do like something worth reading. I will admit to liking Stephen King novels (well some of them) because some of them make me think. I like reading fiction that opens my eyes. A really good writer can transport you to somewhere else. They can make you see; smell; hear and taste their world in their vivid descriptive words and when you find a book like this it is pure gold. Can you tell that I love to read? I think that my new system of finding good authors/books is a whole lot better than my old system which consisted of going into the library and picking out books by their covers. I had 1 lucky strike with a Raymond E. Feist book called “The Magician”. I loved that book so much that I took out more of this authors books and enjoyed his writing style immensely. Apart from Mr R. E. Feist, I didn’t have much luck with my cover technique and wouldn’t recommend it as a way to discover good reading material. Mr Glover is going back to the library and back to his “light entertainment” shelf.

I have rediscovered the game Animal Crossing on Wii. I have rediscovered it so much that Steve has moved the Wii console into the kitchen and connected it to my enormous monitor (really a telly, but who cares?) so that I can sit in here and play as much as I like without hogging the even bigger telly in the lounge room and allowing him to watch Austar and movies in peace and quiet. We need to pick up some bread and milk for Steve while I am away. We only have 1 car and so Steve is effectively grounded while I am in town and needs to stock up on provisions for all eventualities. He has plenty of food for while I am away and lots of easy meals in the freezer so all he has to do is get up off the couch and heat something up to eat. I will be expecting good meals in town. My daughters laud their own cooking abilities loudly to anyone who will listen and to be honest; they are very good at cooking so there is some merit there. I am a quintessential Aussie, however, and can’t handle people telling me how fantastic they are. It smacks of a class system that hasn’t taken hold in a big way in Australia. There are people in Australia that will tell you that they are of a higher class, but there isn’t all that much that distinguishes them (apart from their pushbikes) from the rest of us and it most certainly isn’t something that people are born into in a big way. If you are rich in Australia you tend to shut up about it and just get on with making money hand over fist. The girls have a PlayStation in town. I am not a great PlayStation person and prefer the Wii. Again, because it is my year of living honestly, I will admit to loving the Wii because the games tend to be colourful and of the “collecting” sort where you just wander about finding things. I love games like that. I don’t like stress so why on earth would I want it in my games? I tend to love games where you can just wander about at your leisure finding things, collecting things, talking to the odd character in the game and generally de-stressing. Games are a way for me to relax and as such I don’t want things launching at me, trying to kill me or having to figure out which weapon; Kart; potion or anything else I need to complete my mission. Bollocks to that. Give me a good bit of mindless vacuous time wandering around in my own little land that I created and I am a happy camper. Not much really, just somewhere to go when the real world is threatening to eat my brain.

Hi everyone I am back! I am starting to feel a bit like a jack-in-the-box this year as it is probably the busiest start to a year that I have had in a long time. I am sure that you would like to know that the Mother of all Blackberries is dead. She put up a most valiant fight but was no match for my daughter Madeline and I and our obvious genetic need to resist our enemies. My daughters and I were talking about our heritage and we realised that there is a genetic predisposition to our broad frames, our large bones and our lack of femininity. We come from Germanic, Scottish and in the girl’s case, Danish stock. How could we be anything but big raw-boned girls with attitude when our forefathers spent most of their time away crusading, raping and pillaging and our foremothers (is there such a word?!) were left at home to take care of business as usual and keep everything rolling along smoothly. We are not descended from gentle and delicate stock, we are the descendants of hard working people who had to carve themselves a life from the hostile lands that they lived in. My grandfather’s grandparents were Germanic and like many of their relatives they left their homeland to find a better life. Our branch of the family headed out to the equivalent of the great southern Wild West with gold mining high on the agenda and another branch sauntered over to America. In the 2nd world war our Australian and American soldier relatives fought against and sunk a German U boat containing some of their cousins. I am not really into family histories or trees because you tend to discover more than you are really looking for but it does give you a sense of place to know where you come from and from what sort of stock. A nice easy life of comparative luxury here in Australia has left us soft but when we are faced with a primal enemy like the Mother of all Blackberries our latent fighting heritage emerges in force. Don’t forget here that my daughter can most probably list Vikings as part of her heritage so she most probably has more of that need to lay waste to all that she surveys then I do…

Apart from Madeline here are my 2 willing helpers. Bethany was inside suffering from a bad case of “meh”

Nothing much gets past this little nose…

Here is the sight that greeted me when I headed around the back of the unit (to the right of the picture)…

The Mother of all Blackberries didn’t stand a chance. I girded my loins (well…I put on my work gear…), armed Madeline with the large whipper snipper to get going on reducing the population of weeds and grass, Bethany got the hedge trimmer and set too on the wisteria problem and I picked up Betsy, my trusty small Stihl whipper snipper with a steel brush cutter plate mounted and ready to tackle the enemy behind the unit out the back. As I rounded the corner (wading through piles of fallen greengage plums and apples) I realised that the Mother of all Blackberries wasn’t going to give up without a fight. She had invaded a large pile of debris that we had heaped up after a large spindly peach tree decided to shed most of its canopy in a strong wind. We didn’t have our trailer at the time and so it got cut up and left in a heap. This was a most convenient place for the Mother of all Blackberries to invade and set up her camp to plan her attack. To get to her main trunks (yes…it was that big!) I had to chip away at the debris pile and so using Betsy wasn’t an option. I picked up my trusty secateurs and my small pruning saw and set too. With Madeline wearing a pair of welders gloves and carting the blackberry canes as I cut them we made a formidable team and after 3 solid hours of pruning, pulling and defying the thorns we made it through to the Mothers stronghold. Her enormous original canes could have been used to make furniture out of (should you be of a masochistic lien…) but once I had chipped away at her tendrils of doom her exposed underbelly (albeit a very hard underbelly to get at amongst the overgrown fruit trees and their large suckers) was easy to deal with and her ultimate demise was somewhat of an anticlimax in relation to the hassles that we had dealing with her tendrils of doom. I used my brains (yes…I do have some…) to get Madeline to lay the blackberry canes (all cut to convenient lengths) in large bundles so that we could tie them up with rope and make transporting them from out of the back of the property to the front of the property where the trailer was a much easier proposition. I would like to point out to anyone under the age of 30 at this point that this is why old people like Steve and I make good students. We have learned how to problem solve and think laterally with our life experience and so we are able to use those few brain cells that we have left to work out what we have to do to pass. Thinking laterally is my specialty closely followed by problem solving. Steve is also an excellent problem solver and more importantly, someone who can actually put the problem solving into action. It’s all well and good having all sorts of amazing ideas but unless you have someone like Steve who is able to translate your ideas into physical action, you are stuffed.

Here is the proof that Bethany is able to rise above her chronic affliction and get outside and work sometimes and Madeline is just about to head out of the gate to tackle the grass out the front

You can see by this photo how close the troll used to be to our house. The shed (once the lair of the troll when we first moved to Tasmania) is to the left, the trolls unit (now cleansed) is to the right and our house is in the background of the picture.

This was once the lair of the troll and since his evacuation has been cleansed and is now being used as a storage unit and sometime holiday home of Stewart. Not a bad little space and one that we might do up in the near future as a town bolt hole should we ever need to take advantage of its close proximity to town

I left a small patch of blackberries for the girls to harvest and when autumn arrives (if we actually get it this year…) I am going to prune this blackberry and train it up some latticework for the girls to keep as a fruit bearing vine. I had to hack back the josterberries and we will be removing them entirely. They had an amazing crop this year and I asked the girls why they didn’t eat them. The girls looked at each other and said “you eat one…” I remembered the label that said “a cross between a gooseberry and a blueberry” and thought…”how bad could it be?” I should never set myself up like that. They were TERRIBLE! My girl’s analogy of “meat soaked in vinegar” is most appropriate. A definite meaty taste but sourer then an unripe lemon. One of the most disgusting things that I have ever tasted and even the birds won’t eat them! That is something that should never have been attempted and should most DEFINITELY not have been marketed. They are going to be removed along with the enormous population of leaf hoppers that have decided to take up residence in their dense canopy. I had to prune back the dense undergrowth so that the electricity meter reader wouldn’t be attacked and carried off by the wasps in the densely tangled mass of josterberries and grape vines and infested with leaf hoppers as a minor aside. The entire area had grown like topsy and is going to have to be dealt with in a more permanent way in the near future. I had some lovely meals at my daughters including a delicious pasta meal with a very tasty pasta sauce spiked with blue cheese made for me by Bethany. The next day I got a lovely Mexican meal and as we were stuffed from lunch I had some soft rind white cheese with green peppercorns and some wholegrain crackers for my evening meal. I also had some of the new Philadelphia cream cheese Fusion 3 olive dip. It was delicious and I will be purchasing it to use as a sandwich spread in the near future. After spending all day on removing blackberries and clearing out the overgrown mass at the side of the house in the heat of the day I was decidedly tired and ended up going to bed quite early resulting in me getting up early the next day. Early + Madeline and Bethany = grouches. To Bethany’s due she got up and walked Qi with me while I walked Bezial around the neighbourhood and we then headed off to the Polytechnic where Madeline is going to be studying Laboratory skills this year. We found a system in chaos. Our state government has seen fit to give our Police force, our Education department and our Health system a massive haircut akin to reducing Eddy Vedder from his original mane to bald. They have had to trim so much meat from their respective departments, the remaining biafrans are overworked, underpaid and are unlikely to remain in these sectors. To facilitate this massive reduction in public spending they have hacked and slashed the very foundations of all of these sectors and rendered them a shadow of their former selves and in the process they have rendered Tasmania a broken state. Steve and I will get to go to Polytechnic this year but our lecturer is already under severe stress. Madeline will get to do her course this year but her poor lecturer has lost her teaching assistant and is now left to teach all of the classes herself. What is this going to do to the quality of education delivered to students? How can people overstretched and overstressed deliver quality education when they are more concerned with the pressing need to make ends meet because they have all had their hours reduced or they are being forced to work in other areas to supplement their incomes? What is this government doing to us! All I can say is that they won’t be in government come the next election and I need to add here, that the opposition is just as bad, if not worse, than the devil that we know. When flogging the dead horse of forestry is more important than shoring up the health, order and education of your state then you have lost your way and should be ushered out of government as soon as possible because you are no longer working for the people that voted you into government.

The “Mother of all Blackberries” has left the building…

That clump of twigs and branches in the foreground was the mother of all blackberries stronghold and is now blackberry free. You can see the poor satsuma plum tree that hasn’t seen the light of day in years and you can also see the remains of the blackberries in the tree that steadfastly refused to be tugged out of the canopy.

The view back from the fence showing you the overgrown fruit trees (take note Nat…) and some of the blackberry debris that resulted from the removal. I will be sorting out the rest of this area in the near future but for now, the poor fruit trees are able to breath a sigh of relief knowing that blackberries are not going to smother them in their sleep…

After heading back from the Polytechnic and talking to the lecturers, who at the beginning of the year already feel like they need a holiday, and with a newfound respect for their plight we headed back home to the girls house and watched television after a most delicious Mexican lunch. Having a large Mexican lunch is NOT conducive to working hard in the afternoon but after almost falling asleep watching some television I hauled myself out of the armchair and headed out to finish off the whipper snipping and tidying up. After another 3 hours of whipper snipping and bundling up the blackberry canes into large bundles with an intricate network of interlaced ropes it was quite hot and I needed a rest so I headed back inside vowing to haul the bundles of blackberries out to the trailer when it cooled down. The funny thing about vowing to do things later is that you tend to forget about it. At 9.30 after watching a particularly hilarious episode of Black Adder the 1st, I suddenly remembered that I had 2 enormous trussed up bundles of blackberry canes that needed to be manoeuvred through the gate at the side of the house (I had already lugged them to the gate but was having trouble finding willing helpers in the heat of the day to get the bundles through the gate). BOLLOCKS! Oh well…Madeline had suffered a sunburn on her shoulders from the work that she had done the day before and couldn’t really lift her arms very high and Bethany as funny, charming and as good a cook as she is has been laid low for many years by a chronic debilitating disease called “Laziness”. It was a sore, tired and sorry bunch that emerged from the house at 9.30pm on Wednesday night. After countering the “we can do it tomorrow” argument (I KNOW what the girls are like in the mornings…) we set off to tackle the problem. It turned out to be the most fun that we have had in ages. The blackberry bundles steadfastly refused to go easily and it took the 3 of us straining, threatening, hoisting aloft and laughing aloud to get the first (and lightest) bundle out of the gate and down to the trailer and then we had to hoist it onto the trailer. Madeline was hacking away at the blackberry bundle with an axe, Bethany was giving herself a hernia by hauling one of the ropes and I was frantically trying to stop the entire bundle toppling down onto us rendering us torn and bedraggled. We finally managed to stomp, pull, hoist and manoeuvre the bundles onto the trailer and as I was collecting the pile of mangled and hacked josterberries I heard the girls talking to someone out the front under the street light. The street that the girls live on is a very small street and most of it is taken up by a large Woolworth’s shopping centre. Fantastic for whenever you need anything at the shops but there are only 5 houses on the girls side of the road and so we know all of the neighbours reasonably well. The first cab off the rank is a retired West Australian policeman and this was who the girls were talking to out the front of the house. This poor man has had to put every single one of his deductive tendencies away whenever he deals with us. We don’t look like what we are. When we first moved into the neighbourhood and Laurie (the policeman) was watching them unload the moving van he would have been bewildered by the enormous quantity of guitars being unloaded and even more disturbed by the large number of large amplifiers emerging from the cavernous body of the truck. “There goes the neighbourhood”. We then bought a 4 x 4 and bought an American Staffordshire terrier and a staffy cross. We obviously didn’t work and we look like a cross between penniless students and hippies and we admitted to doing horticulture at Polytechnic so we were OBVIOUSLY growing dope…this poor man would parade up and down the road pretending not to look at us. He asked us numerous times about the dogs, our garden and various other things but after 5 years I think he has finally decided that we were not loud dope growing hippies fully intent on becoming neighbours from hell. Then he happened on the girls and I doing nefarious things at 10pm at night dressed in a wild combination of tee-shirt’s, pyjamas, welding gloves and brandishing an axe (that Madeline and Bethany were fighting over when he turned up…). I think all of our earlier good work has just been undone in one fell swoop! Who cares…we had a great deal of fun wresting that blackberry pile onto the back of the trailer and he can think whatever he likes! We then decided to take the dogs on a night walk which they enjoyed immensely and I had a most enjoyable time with my daughters. I just want to point out here that I feel most privileged to have the children that I do. I know that you can’t pick your family, but I love every last one of them and am duly proud of their great senses of humour and intelligence. I prize their individuality and despite it hampering their dealings with “normal people” they all have their feet firmly on the ground and are most pragmatic about their lives. I couldn’t have hoped for better children and really enjoy spending time in their company.

Here I am…in my year of living honestly (thats the ONLY reason that you are seeing this picture) showing you what a victorious part Germanic large boned woman looks like when she has vanquished one of her mortal enemies. I am glad that the Mother of all Blackberries decided to give in when she did as I don’t think that I had much more fight left in  me! :o)

Steve is up the back as I type this post cutting up logs of a fallen dead tree with his chainsaw. He loves doing “manly” things and his newfound wealth of chainsaws after my dad died have been put to good use around the property and the largest one is being used to secure our wood supply for winter. Wood is used for so much more than merely heating our home and we need it for cooking, water heating, drying clothes and ambiance (never underestimate the value of ambiance…). Steve repainted the stove with stove black while I was away. We chose the matt black finish of our wood stove over a more socially desirable coloured enamel, not because we were cutting corners on cost (although the enamel finish added an extra $3000 to the cost of the stove!) but because we looked ahead. I am a planner. I don’t know where this ability came from because there is a severe dearth of planners in my family but I am stuck with the need to plan things. I looked at both options. I love the look of an enamelled stove and the ability to choose colours that would match the kitchen but with enamelled coating comes wear, cracking and discolouration. That is a fact of life when you use something to constantly heat up and cool down. The enamel is very expensive to recoat and the matt black just needs a brief lick of stove black to take it back to near new condition. It didn’t take us long to work out that we didn’t want a discoloured manky looking coloured enamel stove for an additional $3000 when we could save that money and retouch the stove every season to make it look as good as new. Steve just made it look as good as new and we are most pleased with our planning abilities :o). I think I have shared enough with you today constant readers. One of my constant readers (Florida) is going to be the recipient of some of our multi-coloured and multicultural chickens for her new property. I am so glad that they can go somewhere where their free ranging egg laying habits are appreciated and they will be allowed to live out their lives as the happy clucking girls that they are. Should you want a rooster we have a few most interesting roosters but knowing how difficult it is to get rid of roosters, I dare say you only want hens as ¾ of an acre fills up quite rapidly when a most determined rooster aids and abets his girls to get clucky and hide themselves away to hatch out exponential broods of chicks… See you all tomorrow when we can settle back down into some semblance of “normality” here on Serendipity Farm. We are about to make some decisions regarding our burgeoning population of plant life here and I am sure that you will all be waiting with baited breath to find out what we are about to do (and if you could care less about plants…see you here tomorrow anyway because you obviously are bored out of your gourds and this blog is doing its bit to keep you off the streets :o)

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kym
    Feb 03, 2012 @ 18:59:39

    Well done Fran! You slayed that most terrible beast, and got your daughters to help too lol. I love the photo of your dogs and especially the one of you 🙂 I’m glad you are back because my brain was getting a little bit confused with all that tooing and froing. Well I have survived my first week back at work. It has been a very hectic week and I am most relieved it is Friday. None of my friends will show any sympathy to me, okay I have been off for 6 weeks, so I’m relying on you to send sympathy my way 🙂 As usual the computer system was down, thanks Trev, and my number wasn’t programmed into the photocopier, thanks Chris. The toilets in our staff room are being refurbished so we can’t use them and have wheelbarrows of cement being carted through the middle of the room while enjoying our much needed cuppa, thanks super inefficient builders. They started when school finished, yes 6 weeks ago, well now 7, and still they don’t look like much has been done. First day back we had no water, not good to deprive us of our hot water for a caffeine fix, and the door was wide open so no cool air respite sigh. Oh well no more grouching lol. It has been very muggy over in good old WA. Last night we had a lot of rain and it has made it feel a little cooler, but there is still that muggy feel in the air. We have a few cooler days, low 30’s, and then it’s back to 41 next Friday. I was quite amused to see a weather comparison between Perth and Albany in the Sunday Times, especially after your sister had suggested I move to Albany to beat the heat lol. I think they must have read my fb page…. scary eh. This weekend I will be pruning the overgrown parsley as the heat has killed most of it. I have picked up a new little parsley to replace it as I use parsley a lot. Ok time for a drink, enjoy your weekend x

    Reply

    • narf77
      Feb 03, 2012 @ 20:08:46

      Steve is under the impression that you will get along fine with him because he always has a drink in his hands ;o). That was a really long comment! Well done surviving the first week back at school! Our state government has slashed everything (especially the education budget) over the holidays and the poor lecturers got back to find that most of them had lost their jobs or lost their T.A’s and chaos abounds. We are just lucky to have a course to do this year! I feel so sorry for them all as they are really nice people and the state government are a huge pile of dogs excrement for doing this to them all. As if Tasmanians didn’t already have the worst educational reputation in Australia without our state government numptying them up more! Oh well…I guess it just makes us look like brain scientists :o). Enjoy that drink. Steve and I are on the fruity lexia (DON’T JUDGE ME! :o). Its really humid here and our glasshouse is looking like Queensland in a heatwave. We have been having all sorts of heatwaves here and very little rain and tomorrow we have the same temperature as you do!! We are in the process of cutting our firewood ready for winter which I predict (here where I cant recant it as you all have proof) is going to be bloody cold. No chillblains for ME this year! :o). Have a fantastic first weekend back after school. You know it’s so much sweeter once you feel like you earned it. Have a great time and a nice swim in the pool if it gets hot armed with as many alcoholic slushies as will float past you at a regular pace as and when they are needed (Bruce…get blending! :o) You have my sympathy for the conditions that you have to work under as well as for your friends giving you no sympathy…SHAME ON THEM! Tell them that they owe you a drink after work (hopefully you have more than 10 friends and will get absolutely blotto and they will have to carry you home which will be their just desserts for being so unsympathetic…). See you tomorrow
      love Fran :o)
      (and Steve on his 15th fruity lexia for the day…)

      Reply

  2. Kym
    Feb 04, 2012 @ 00:36:23

    Lol! Had a good chuckle reading that. Fruity Lexia purleese!! What has Steve got you into eh 🙂

    Reply

  3. Florida
    Feb 11, 2012 @ 07:37:30

    Florida should bre ready for her new additions within two to tree weeks. I have told (queen) Bea, Harriet, Prudence and poor dopey Clara that they are about to welcome their new sisters as soon as we move permantley to the beautiful village of Westbury. Their reaction was well “Umhh”!!! Life as they have known it was perfectly well ordered and predectable, well I think some new blood will be boost for all!!
    Love ya all
    Florida

    Reply

    • narf77
      Feb 11, 2012 @ 09:07:59

      Thank goodness! We are being overrun by more chooks than we can swing a cat at (and we have 6 of them as well should you want one!)…another 8 chicks hatched out the other day and we are almost up to 40 chooks (and up to our armpits in the accompanying dung, scratched up dirt and debris…). Let us know when you want your new girls. We are quite certain who is a girl and who isn’t now. What sort of girls were you looking for? We have white, we have black, we have unusual and how many would you like? Let us know :o) Good luck with your removal to the country and hopefully it goes amazingly smoothly and you arrive refreshed, revitalised and ready for your new country life :o)

      Reply

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