How to reuse, recycle and repurpose just about everything!

Hello Possums,

I just read a book about a 91 year old Tasmanian icon called Marjory Bligh. She has been rumoured to have spawned Dame Edna and Barry Humphrey’s always buys some of her books whenever she releases them. I used to subscribe to Grass Roots magazine, which to those of you living anywhere other than Australia is a 70’s alternative lifestyle and homesteading/smallholding magazine, and remember reading letters to the hints and tips and questions and answers page from Marjory. Like me, she is a last century woman but her experience of last century is MUCH more extensive than mine. The book was about Marjory and wasn’t all that interesting to be honest. What got me excited were the hints and tips that littered the pages and I typed most of them out and saved them. Marjory is the doyen of knitting and crocheting things out of bread wrappers, supermarket plastic bags etc. She came from the depression years and as such learned that everything has a value. You might not be able to see that value when staring straight at the item in question, but it’s there. Much like blowflies and mosquitoes…something somewhere out there loves them! So I decided that my shame that I currently feel whenever I have to throw out plastic bags is going to be quelled. I have started to collect them and go hunting for not only repurposing ideas but repurposing ideas that actually result in something desirable. That’s the secret folks…anyone can crochet a bathmat/hat out of a bread wrapper but it takes artistic flair to make something that people covet. THAT is my ultimate aim and so off to Instructables to hunt for a few patterns. Again…I LOVE this site. I love it so much I subscribe to it on my rss feed reader and look forward to seeing just how inventive some people are able to be and take magpie delight in collecting the shiny results of their hard thought out labour. I collected a home-made kayak the other day…well…the instructable for how to make one from start to finish…I also got to read the comments that enlightened me as to how to make this even better. I was also able to isolate a most interesting series of Instructables about laminating plastic bags to get a thicker plastic product that you can use for making more durable items…now THAT is a skill that a repurposing magpie might just like to learn!

I can get lost in that site! Here are a few examples of why…

First up…who wouldn’t want to make a purse/wallet out of an old juice or milk carton?

And after we have spent the day slashing and hacking at our honeysuckle problem, we can sit down to a glass of our ultimate revenge!

Try this one…”You too can make yourself a torch out of a coke can and a box of cornflakes…

Here is another example of total irony…a rubbish bin made out of rubbish! Gotta have one of those…

We had a visit from our friend who must remain anonymous and she brought us some firewood and came to see what we have been up to on Serendipity Farm. She brought some photos with her to share with us of her adventures since we last saw her. In this photo we get to see Glen her partner. He is not in the witness protection programme and as such is quite happy to share his delightful countenance with us all here. In this photo we can see Glen and a friends little dog who apparently not only loves him, but looks remarkably like him…

I wanted to share a photo that made it to the paper of our friend and some fish that she caught in Strahan on the West Coast when fishing. I had to maintain her anonymity and so allowed Steve to head over to Photoshop and attempt to give her a new identity…hmmm not too sure whether Marilyn would have appreciated fishy fingers Steve…methinks its back to the old drawing board

Looking exactly like your partner is somewhat kinky and not to be encouraged in any way shape or form!…(imagine the kids!!)

This is getting warmer and the pixelated look is somewhat better than looking like your old man but we decided on the next one with our friends approval…

WONDERFUL! I dare say our friend will be probably heading off to her plastic surgeon in the morning to effect these changes…well done Steve, you have a career in plastic surgery design! (the lord only knows…it pays more than landscape design…sigh…)

I could go on forever here (and those of you who read this blog on a regular basis know that I am NOT exaggerating there 😉 ) but if you want to get as excited about reusing and repurposing as I do and feel sufficiently happy that you are doing everything in your means to helping ease congestion at the tip whilst creating something new and unique, check out the “Green” section on Instructables. And for any new readers who are not aware of Instructables…here is their address…

Steve and I decided to start a new blog using Google’s alternative to WordPress. It would appear that Google is on the brink of taking over the internet highway and always the thinking person’s magpie; I am going to ride the crest of that ever encroaching technological wave until it flattens WordPress into a mangled disassembled heap. Do you think I might be a little bit angry at WordPress…DO YOU THINK?! I can’t believe how WordPress have hurled their non-paying bloggers into the ether totally unprotected by anything…we are free falling and those who are not willing to grab hold of someplace else are about to land in a painful heap. I lost half of the blogs that I follow and half of my subscribed readers thanks to their new updates. They didn’t warn anyone…they didn’t test these updates…they have also cast all non-paying bloggers off from being able to ask any questions about blogging apart from the forum where long suffering volunteers have to field the angry protestations of exponentially angry bloggers. I started to get 100+ comments from blogs that I follow thanks to Word Press’s new “you must untick the box underneath the comment that you make or you will get every single other post posted to that article”…we were not told that…we just had to work it out ourselves folks…I guess it would take up too much bandwidth to tell all of the free bloggers out there so to heck with them…let em’ work it out themselves! Ok WordPress…I have given you a fair bit of my mental blood sweat and tears since last October when I started blogging. I have NO idea how hard this must be for everyone who has been with you for years but consider me a big hairy magpie rat that is leaving your sinking ship… We are off to BlogSpot.

I decided to take the easy way out and share a few of my friends (the one who must remain anonymous…I don’t think I have any normal friends!)  photos with you today. I will save more of Serendipity Farm and what we have been doing for Saturday. For now enjoy these lovely squid. Aren’t they beautiful?

This water is stunning! Almost as lovely as the red squid…

We have worked our way most carefully through the minefield known as Adobe Illustrator cs4 to create a picture for our new blog. We wanted to be “clever” and call it “The Odd Life” as juxtaposition with the wonderfully wry and truthful 70’s U.K. television sitcom “The Good Life” where Barbara and Tom turn their ¼ acre house and garden into a sustainable plot along with utilising the methane from their livestock to heat their home and generate power. I loved that show…EVERYONE loved that show. It was hilarious…it was ground breaking…it was (like many good U.K. television programs before and since) WAY ahead of its time and apart from that it launched Felicity Kendal as rear of the year and the countryman’s idea of a “good sort”. We tried all variants of “The Odd Life” until we arrived at what we thought was a witty alternative involving both the “Odd” desirable quotient combined with our newfound skills as landscape designers who occasionally have to turn to the use of Theodolites. So together they became “The Odo Life”…I am NOT going to spell it out folks! 😉 Anyway…at a day in the not too distant future (when I overcome my laziness and get my act together to do a first post and share the new blog with you all…) we will head on over to Google without a passing glance back at the WordPress titanic that attempted to swallow us into its sea of ineptitude. I am not ungrateful for the 8 months of use I got from their site. I never once complained to them about how infuriating their site was when posting regarding photos going missing…entire posts disappearing and having to be posted again…all sorts of irritating things that I would have to jump through Word Press’s hoops to attain and all because it was free. I have discovered that WordPress isn’t the only free fish in the sea and have decided to attach myself remora like underneath the good ship Google…”Long may she sail”! Goodness only knows I am too lazy to have to swap blogs more than once!

Here are a couple of photos that Jenny took for me to show to my mum over the school holidays. It had become a bit of a running joke that mum collected weird and wonderful pictures of toilets and Jenny captured this toilet in Strahan while on holiday in January. My mum died before she could see these pictures and Jenny hadn’t the heart to share them with me before now. These are for you if you are still reading the blog wherever you are mum…I am sure that you would have loved them for your collection :). This one shows the way to the toilet…

And here is the ancient Thunderbox itself. Thunderbox is an Aussie word for outdoor long drop toilet. This one was the sole toilet for all of the fishing boats in Strahan for many years! As most fisherman love to imbibe liberally whilst out on the briny sea can you only imagine how many of them didn’t quite make it to the toilet and how many of them found themselves sobering up VERY quickly in the cold Tasmanian sea? 🙂

I have been using Facebook again sporadically for a few weeks now. I love how I can find all sorts of interesting things that I couldn’t otherwise find via social media sites. I can share websites and interesting articles with friends and family that I might not bother to share otherwise thanks to the ability to “click” and share…sometimes I dare say my friends and family would rather that I didn’t just “click and share” but you know what? Learning is good for you…it keeps your brain mobile and active and when your brain is active and alive, the rest of you tends to follow. That’s my theory and I am sticking to it! I am now adding interesting sites to my Google reader via RSS feeds and it’s so much easier to head on over to Google Reader and read what I want, when I want rather than be bombarded by emails informing me about posts. It took a little bit of getting used to but I now prefer it. It does, however, make my inbox a bit of a sad place now as most of my family and friends are not regular communicators and if I didn’t occasionally head over to Facebook I dare say I wouldn’t hear from them. I guess living 3870km away from most of your family makes it possible to allow them to sink into the distance quite easily. Social media has allowed us to rediscover our family and distant friends that we had lost touch with. I met Steve’s friend and flatmate Tony’s wife Pim who Tony met on a worldwide trip in Thailand 20 odd years ago and who have now been married for 20 years. I would never have had the chance to meet her and share a most refreshing friendship if not for Facebook and other social media making the world a much smaller place. It would have been MUCH easier for Steve and me to communicate. We met online back in 1997 when the U.K. was still a HUGE distance away media wise and had to put up with massively expensive sporadic phone calls and using a slow dial up network that often dropped out and with tremendous lag times just to keep in touch. Now you just hook up to Google Chat for free and buy yourself a nice cheap webcam and you can talk to whoever you like wherever you like for free with almost instantaneous speeds. The world is a much smaller place thanks to social media and for that I am thankful. We can also find out about all sorts of events and happenings that we might otherwise never hear about. What was once something endemic is now capable of becoming viral if it holds enough interest to the average Joe. I can head on over to Project Gutenberg whenever I want to check out a free eBook. With over 36 000 of them available both fiction and non-fiction I can surely find SOMETHING that interests me. I can find out pretty much anything that I want to so long as someone else has been kind enough to share the information. A last century magpie like me who has point blank REFUSED to learn how to use the Austar remote could be forgiven for ignoring the information highway completely but I love it. I love learning things and am amassing a small fortune of information pertaining to our interests and what we are trying to do here on Serendipity Farm. Life is constantly evolving and our ever changing world is constantly updating. I love that I too can constantly update along with it and can choose…the word “Choose” being the operative word here (at the moment) what I do and don’t want to learn. Here’s hoping that we can keep the net free, open and honest and that the powers that be (including my new massive mother ship zeppelin of choice Google…) remain stymied in their endeavours to make it the biggest cash in opportunity of the millennium. Knowledge is power and choice is the weapon that delivers it to our waiting ears. We need to make sure that this ability to learn what we choose is not taken from us in the name of exponential profit growth.

This is a small cruise boat that you can take a tour around Strahan and that runs rings around the little boat that takes tours up the Tamar…

Isn’t Strahan pretty? We might have to head over there one day when we get a few spare minutes.

Lastly, this is a photo taken directly in front of our house. The little lighthouse is in Glads (our 88 year old next door neighbour) front verge and we are directly to the left (in the photo) of there. You can’t really see us but you can…if you peer…see the top of our house. This photo was taken on our friend and Glens boat on a trip up the Tamar River. Ok, thats your bloomin lot for today folks…

I wonder if any writers out there would like to buy some of my never ending supply of words? Anyone wanting to take advantage of this constant stream of concepts…ideas…crazy adventitious sharing…I am open to offers. I prefer to barter so if you have something of interest let me know. I could probably part with about 50% of them and STILL have enough to tide me over for the next 50 years. After that I doubt that anyone would want to listen to me anymore anyway so it would be a bit like a 99 year lease where (in this case) the words revert to the state. Good luck with making sense out of them “The State”…my muse appears to be a little psychotic at times and tends to channel the more mentally alternative members of the afterlife so you might be buying in to a little more than you bargain for but what price words when you are stuck with writers block eh? I sometimes feel like a human sponge…I sit down with an enormous cup of tea (can’t be having to get up halfway through…) to my newfound rss feed reader (in this case Google) and wade through all of the exciting word porn that gets delivered right to my waiting mind. It’s like allowing a small child into one of those enormous pick-and-mix sections in one of the larger more upmarket department stores where the sweets are less likely to make them glow in the dark with a 20 litre bucket…a large scoop and free rein for a day. Not only would the child eat more than the 20 litre bucket that they would no doubt fill to the maximum, but the resulting illness from overindulgence would last a week. The headiness of me being able to read all of my favourite blogs and web pages (aside from a few of the really crazy ones that don’t have rss feed because the government or aliens might get track of where they are that is…) has rendered me somewhat static. The dogs hate it…Earl Sits at my elbow nibbling the oversized jumper that I am wearing trying to get me to take him for a walk. Steve sits in the lounge room a happy man because he can watch whatever he likes with impunity because I am not there offering verbal insults to his favourite obese American Redneck populated Alligator, hog and storage shed hunting television programs and Bezial can bask in front of the fire knowing that at least one family member is here in bodily form albeit mentally no longer in the building. Knowledge is more than power for me. It’s like mental food. It feeds my mind and when I occasionally find the mental equivalent to that never ending free upper class pick and mix buffet for my inner child it delights me for days. I am a cheap date. Give me a bowl of good home-made soup, an enormous screen and the ability to hunt for my mental stimulation and I am yours. Steve says that “You might not want the results”…I think that is his way of saying he still wants me around…that’s love for you :o)

Again my posts escape and run amok…it’s a bit like being taken by aliens…you suddenly arrive at the spot where you were only minutes before feeling somewhat abused but not quite knowing how or why…I get to this point in my posts knowing that I have posted but no idea how I managed to get to 2500 words so quickly. I just love sharing with you all. I think we are just about to start taking some hard wood cuttings this week. Steve wants to get some scion material from a heritage listed weeping elm in town and a small weeping birch in one of the malls to graft onto his rootstocks. I will be taking some cuttings from a wonderful cold climate shrub that I fell in love with hanging over a garden fence in Beaconsfield called Stachyurus praecox. We are also going to take some Washington Hawthorn cuttings now that they have lost their leaves and are ready for hard wood cuttings. We haven’t had the inclination or time to actively pursue our previous horticultural zeal for plant propagation but we are slowly getting back some time to want to grow plants again. “Break out the heat bed and make some room in the glasshouse Steve…Fran’s green thumb is back!”Stachyurus praecoxStachyurus praecox I just have to leave you with this little Green Instructable that tickled my inner irony button. I love how re-using saves the planet AND your wallet and this little Instructable might do more to protect you from the credit crunch than you might immediately think 😉 See you all on Saturday and until we get to share some mental space again…remember to use your mind…like everything else that we are given in life, it needs exercise or it ends up sluggish and overweight and the LAST thing you want to be known as is “Fathead” now isn’t it? :o).

7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Rhianna
    May 16, 2012 @ 21:12:21

    Oh wordpress. What have you done? So many disgruntled people, and yet you remain firm in your decision to implement ill received changes.

    Meanwhile, I adore that website. Looks great, Fran. Thanks for sharing.


    • narf77
      May 17, 2012 @ 06:25:43

      I think that only some of us have been hit really hard with the WordPress stick…but never let it be said that I don’t learn fast! I will keep you all advised about our move to Google blogspot for our new improved (?!) blog 😉


  2. Kym
    May 16, 2012 @ 22:31:31

    Isn’t it sad that money gets in the way of so much now. Never mind we will just head over to google with you now 🙂 by the way I have downloaded the google chat thing but not sure how to get it to work :[ . I have shared the instructable web site with the education assistants network as it has lots of great ideas. Nice to see you on fb too x


    • narf77
      May 17, 2012 @ 06:27:53

      Facebook is where I get to talk to you all as here it sometimes feels like emailing ;). Glad to share that amazing site. Not only do you get simple craft and recycling ideas but you get some serious heavyweight stuff for boffins as well. Nothing like mixing the masses and sharing quantum physics whilst making a crocheted doily eh? 😉 Stewart uses google chat every night with his friend in the USA so it must work…he said skype was costing him $20 a night!


  3. christiok
    May 17, 2012 @ 01:20:24

    Wonderful blog, as usual, and now I know that your name is Fran. One of my two top favorite movies is Strictly Ballroom (the other is Moonstruck), which is a story of dancing your own steps set in Australia. The heroine is Fran. I blog on WordPress, too, and have struggled with pictures many times. I’m looking forward to following your “steps” through the Google maze…and if you’d like to be friends on FB, I’m up for it! I’m Christi Overturf Killien over there.


  4. Kym
    May 17, 2012 @ 22:23:24

    Not sure why he was paying for his skype as it is free, computer to computer. Maybe he was on their phones??? I now have my new email but so far don’t know how to open it lol. Waiting on a call from Westnet to help me log into it. I’m pretty good with computer stuff but this has me foiled, must be related to the google chat site lol


    • narf77
      May 18, 2012 @ 06:37:23

      He only had a netbook and a little stick so kept going over his bandwidth talking every night…$20 a night! Now he finally has Telstra hook him up to a landline and the net and he can chat for free. He said that Google Chat was much better because the quality was better…no lag time…better image and real-time confrancing (whatever that means) so they are happier using it. Skype has a few problems over that sort of a distance apparently. Good luck sorting out your email and remember, if you have too many problems, just get Gmail, nice and easy and completely portable. You can use it anywhere in the world. We havn’t ever used our dodo email yet.


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