The Day that the Underpants Gnomes invaded Sidmouth

Hi All,

The nefarious Underpants Gnomes wallowing in a pile of pilfered underpants

I think that the underpants gnomes have invaded Serendipity Farm. There I said it! If you are not aware of the underpants gnomes (and that’s EXACTLY what they want you to be…) here’s a bit of background information about what they do…

We don’t just have ordinary underpants gnomes here (is ANYTHING normal on Serendipity Farm?!), we have the kind that sabotages your underpants to ensure that you are effectively nobbled. How do I know this? Because my underpants have suddenly all sprung their elastic and spend their time avoiding the task that they were designed to perform and avoiding my ample hips and choosing to attempt to cover my knees. Some of them are now a collection of holes being held together by a bit of cloth. I have 2 options at this point…I can start wearing Steve’s boxers OR I can use some of the bits of string in the back of the cupboard that I used to wear in a past life that were perpetually heading on an expedition to find my appendix that are waiting in solitary confinement to be used to tie up the tomatoes this summer. Neither solution appeals to me so I am going to have to bite the bullet and go underpants shopping because underpants and socks are NOT something that I will buy from a thrift shop. At least I am in the “normal” underpants range now and can have a bit of a choice other than enormous cotton nana knickers that go up to my armpits. I just want some serviceable underpants that stay up (preferably). I don’t need Hello Kitty represented on my nether regions and am more than happy to wear plain undies.  Does this say anything about me? I hope so!

Working on our model that we have FINALLY finished! You can see me measuring the place that we have to drill holes to nail in 1/5th scale nails that are TEENY!

Photo’s being taken of us having to use a punch to enable us to hammer (yes…that small silver thing is a hammer!) in the miniscule nails that we needed to use to achieve a true 1/5th scale. (Note to self…best get that bleach out pretty soon…)

The finished pergola…”Noice”! Seeing as this was a 1/5th scale model and it took us 6 weeks to complete (3 fortnightly visits)…if anyone wants us to build a full scale pergola it should take us approximately 3 years to complete…but it will be FANTASTIC! 😉

I discovered today, while Steve and I were looking for which saints were born on our birthdays (As you do…Steve has several and I have NONE!)…that there have been some semi famous people born on the day that I came into the world. The most famous of which was Neil Armstrong who professed to walk on the moon but many people would deny that. It’s all downhill after that…here’s the list…

  1. Neil Armstrong
  2. Marcia from the Brady Bunch
  3. The guy who wrote Hulk Hogan’s theme tune
  4. Pete Burns from Dead or Alive (we share a birthday AND???!!!)
  5. Evil Jared Hasselhoff from the band The Bloodhound Gang (Google it…apparently the roof is on fire…)
  6. Funkmaster Flex…

And last, but by no means least, someone who has 184 years to go till he is born…

Kevin Thomas Riley from Tarsus IV (Star Trek)

Now wasn’t that a good way to waste some of the time that I have left here on earth? I don’t THINK so! I shared this with you to show you that normal people are NOT born on the day that I was born… something happens in the time space continuum on this day every year to ensure that normality isn’t going to be an issue. (Pete Burns…REALLY?!!!). One of my dearest constant readers is also having her birthday soon. Kym has been one of my closest friends and was my best friend in high school. She shared her passion of Linda Ronstadt and John Denver with me and I shared my participation in drama class with her. We drifted away when we both headed to our capital city and headed off into different directions but met again not so long ago and now we have started back where we left off. Have a fantastic birthday Kymmy

This must be quite an old fashioned greeny/butter yellow grevillea because it was planted more than 20 years ago on Serendipity Farm. It must also be a very hardy grevillea because it has survived a total lack of water aside from natural rainfall along with a tree falling across it…not bad you tough little Aussie battler you and despite me not liking Australian natives much…this one gets to stay right where it is for as long as it wants to stay here.

As sad and slippy and ruinous as the gardens look at the moment there are little touches of colour and small waftings of heady scent drifting about in random corners of Serendipity Farm. This little patch of jonquils has decided to grow in the middle of the small second lawned area surrounded by overgrown hedges and the untamed heart of the garden. It’s hopeful little plants like this that keep me hurling myself into what is rapidly descending into a silty mire of mangled looking plants.

I am in love with kimchi. I made some the other day and placed it reverently on my bread proofing rack above Brunhilda and with the addition of miso and heat the fermentation process was speedier than usual and resulted in a nice quick kimchi with amazing flavour. I had some with rice tonight for my tea and I feel suitably chuffed with myself to add another skill to my bow. As you all know I LOVE being able to make things for myself and aside from my kimchi having quite a strong smell (it has a LOT of garlic in it…) I have a large jar of it in the fridge ready to consume at my every whim. Apparently a great way to speed up the process the next time I want to make it is to add a little of the old kimchi to the new batch (much like I added the miso knowing that it is cultured also). When looking for recipes to utilise my newfound kimchi wealth I found a recipe for Korean plain rice cakes that are actually little tubes of cooked rice flour that are used somewhat like noodles with kimchi. I have an interesting machine in the top of my pantry that was purchased years ago on one of my health kicks to make cold pressed juice. I call the machine “Little Pig” and to date it has made 1 batch of fruit mince, 1 batch of vegetarian sausages and about 1/16th of a glass of carrot juice and about 2 Supermarket bags worth of pulp in the process. This machine would be amazing for making these rice cakes. My daughters are way ahead of me with Korean food. They have been frequenting a little Korean grocery shop in Mowbray and are well versed in the delights of Korean food. I have limited myself to Korean red chilli paste and their amazing miso pastes that are delicious and I use like stock pastes. It’s about time I headed back and perused this amazing shop again. I have learned not to bother much with trying to work out what is contained inside these packages with Korean writing only and to head to the counter and show the Korean gentleman who shakes his head or smiles and nods as he knows that I am a vegetarian and don’t eat meat. He doesn’t understand much English and I don’t understand much Korean but we seem to have a good system going and I will continue to shop at this man’s shop because of the amazing array of products that pique my interest.

This protea is one of the shrubs that has survived on Serendipity Farm that seems to constantly flower throughout the year. Even the spent flowers are somewhat attractive, which is lucky because they are in NO hurry to evacuate their position on the shrub any day soon. They make lovely cut flowers if you are that way inclined but I would rather that they spent their days on their parent shrub feeling the sun and the rain on their upturned petals.

A small azalea that was, prior to a manic stint of vicious weeding, covered in blackberries and overgrown by ivy geraniums appears to be quite happy with its newfound ability to wave in the breeze

It’s now Saturday and I am sitting here wondering why anyone would pay for a weather service that doesn’t actually accurately predict the weather? A lot of taxpayer money goes to funding weather bureau’s and if you want an accurate idea of what the weather is going to be…in my opinion, it’s probably a good idea to stick your head out of the window. The weather report (last night) said “frosty mornings and 0C over night with fine weather for the next 3 – 4 days”…”All RIGHTY then!” says I and heads to the washing machine this morning before we set our on our walk with the dogs. 2 loads of washing later and all hung up nice and neatly on the line waiting for the sunshine and immediately after I put the last load of washing on to wash I headed out to try and get a little bit of early spring happening on Serendipity Farm for your voyeuristic enjoyment and what did I spy meandering down the river in a slow sprinkling deluge? RAIN! Not enough to totally saturate my washing but enough to set itself in, stop me from mucking out the chicken yard like I intended and too much to give me time race back and get the washing off the line…IF I paid tax I would be sorely tempted to contact the weather department and ask them for my money back! I raced my bale of hay into Steve’s shed in a wheelbarrow and could at least take some comfort that it remains snug and dry and ready to spread into the chook run after I remove the last nitrogen sodden tenant from its position under the perches. Yin is starting to spread out into some of the lower and upper regions of Serendipity Farm in search of human proof nesting sites. We found a nice little hen shaped nest tunnelled into a wild patch of Erigeron glaucus (seaside daisy) and upon closer inspection discovered a tell-tale white feather. Good try Yin…we are onto this one! I didn’t realise that seaside daisy’s other name was seaside fleabane? Perhaps that is why our dogs haven’t ever had a single flea since we moved here? Not that Bezial has EVER had a flea but if someone was going to pick up a nefarious hopper it would be Earl and he hasn’t ever had them either.

This little clump of Helleborus x hybridus (Winter Rose) has grown back most stubbornly amongst a pile of sticks that were left behind after a session in the garden. The same is happening all over Serendipity Farm as bulbs start to send their leaves up to the light and are having to detour around piles of debris and other things that weren’t there when they died back last year. I have to give them points for their persistence

Here’s a close up of these hardy little stayers that keep on coming back for more punishment

This lovely perennial goes by the name of “Stinking Hellebore”…I can’t for the life of me work out why because as far as my nose goes…and it’s a very well honed nose…it has no scent at all. Its one of the most hardy plants that I have seen around the property and will grow in places that look about as close to “Desert” as Tasmania can produce. I can only imagine that it likes the cold as otherwise it would run rampant everywhere it is so hardy.

Aside from being hardy and having striking leaves, Helleborus foetidus has very interesting flowers and is well worth growing in your garden if you want to ensure a year round supply of these attractive flowers

The tall tree-like Buddleia that I talked about wanting to identify in a past post is covered in flowers. I still don’t know what species it is but at least I can share a couple of photos with you. It has the most intense perfume somewhat like a Daphne odora but more citrusy. The wattle birds and other nectar feeders are all over it fighting for its fragrant elixir and I also discovered a Lonicera fragrantissima (lovely shrub honeysuckle) that has the most amazing scent growing in one of the lower gardens. I took some photos to share with you but mainly to remind myself that this sodden mass of broken twigs, mangled undergrowth and hacked vegetation has some promise for the future. I guess the saying “You have to break a few eggs to make an omelette” is there to remind me that it’s got to get worse before it gets better. The tiny little camellia that had been languishing underneath a pile of blackberries and a long dead tree that had fallen into the middle of it has finally flowered. I tried to take cuttings from this tiny little camellia when I was staying here a long time ago when dad was alive. I felt so sorry for this poor little plant that was surely on its last legs and it is certainly repaying me for its liberation from blackberry hell with its ongoing survival and it’s lovely flowers. We walked the dogs along the highway today for a bit of a change and headed down a side road and found a stall selling apples and Beurre Bosc pears. The pears were on special and after we got back to the car we headed back and picked up 2kg for $2. I love Beurre Bosc pears and these are particularly fragrant and taste like honey. I think I might make some pear muffins so that Steve can enjoy the flavour as he doesn’t generally eat fruit unless it is heavily disguised as “cake”. He doesn’t mind strawberries, however, which is just as well because almost every single tip rescued strawberry plant has grown. I was very surprised at how the tiny little budded bits have taken off but I must have found them at exactly the right time and now they are happily putting all of their energy into growing. I noticed that the 2 small pots of Australian native dendrobium orchids have both got flower spikes on this year. One of them, dad claimed to have climbed up a rock on an island in New South Wales and removed and transported to Tasmania. He said that it had a small blue flower so I will take some photos if it manages to produce a flower. The other one could be anything and was picked up from a small nursery in the states north for $2.

This Buddleia is situated in the middle of the untamed part of the lower garden. I know that it isn’t a regular Davidii and would love to know what it actually is. I think it might be an alternifolia. Let me know if you know what it is as it will definately make me a happy camper

Aside from being most happy to grow and flower in this tangled bit of wasteland in the middle of the garden this species is HUGE for a shrub. You can see the tops of the Eucalyptus in the background that should give you an idea that this is more tree than shrub

These little Bergenia’s are situated all over Serendipity Farm and a hardier little flowering ground cover would be difficult to find. The leaves are like cabbages and until I knew their botanical name I called them “The Cabbage Plant”…how horticultural eh? 🙂

A most hardy specimen of an unusual bush honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima) that has a most delicious scent reminiscent of Daphne odora and well worth getting hold of for your garden

One of the small camellia’s that are starting to emerge in various parts of the garden all around Serendipity Farm

The little camellia that I had previously tried to take cuttings from that appears to be not only alive, but happy now that it has been liberated from its weedy prison

The little camellia in the previous photo has a lovely weeping habit and is certainly rewarding us with lots of flowers. 2 other small standard weeping camellias that I found under a large conifer are just about to start flowering and it will be interesting to see what their flowers are like.

I have been hunting out some recipes in which to use the kimchi that I made last week. Steve is NOT a fan of the product or the delightful garlicky scent that has started to emanate from the fridge whenever he heads there but I love it. I discovered that Sandor Ellix Katz, the author of the book that I found the recipe for my kimchi has 2 other books and have added all 3 books to my birthday list. The first of his books is more mainstream and talks about harnessing cultures to use in making bread, cheese, beer and wine. The second is the “Wild Fermentation” book that I have from the library and this one delves slightly more into the world of weird fermentation. His latest book called “The Art of Fermentation” heads all over the place and doesn’t actually give recipes but more guidelines to using ferments to create and experiment with. I think that where you live can often have a direct impact on how successful your ferments are. If you live in San Francisco, you can pretty much guarantee that you are going to grow yourself a hearty and most delicious sourdough starter whereas you may not have all of the luck in the world in Antarctica. Sometimes you have to find a source of your desired culturing agent like kefir grains or a kombucha Scoby (mother) but occasionally you can just rely on the wild yeasts and bacteria that are just floating around adventitiously waiting to predate your unsuspecting foodstuff if you give them the right conditions.  One problem with using cultures to change raw foodstuffs into fermented goodies is that they tend to get very happy with their new environmental conditions and start to breed their numbers up. You only need a certain amount of sourdough, kombucha and kefir (for example) and once you get more you either give it to someone else who wants it or you throw it away. I hate wasting things and Sandor has given those of us frugal magpies out here an out. He has shown how to turn Scoby mothers (kombucha) into the equivalent of glace fruit! What an interesting idea? Not only do you not have to drop your faithful servant into the toilet and give them a nautical funeral whilst feeling as guilty as heck as you flush, BUT you are able to repurpose it into something that is not only good for you, but that you can add into cakes. The end result looks a whole lot like glace mango and apparently tastes like lemony apple pie. You can’t go wrong with that! When I get my books I will be concocting all sorts of interesting ferments. I want to make some beer from wort and make good use of cheap fruit and vegetables in the coming productive seasons and turn them into all sorts of fermented goodies and wine.

It’s 2.30pm and Bezial is barking furiously at me to make his dinner. The day that you get your dinner at 2.30 is the day that I become a mindless dog zombie servant and that day isn’t approaching any time soon meladdy! The trouble with having dogs that are used to living the high life is that they tend to keep pushing their boundaries. Earl has a problem staying in the back seat of the car and can be relied upon to inch his way slowly further and further into the front in his excitement to plank like a hood ornament on the bonnet of the car…Bezial has a similar mentality when it comes to food and will push his luck if he thinks that he can. Steve is constantly subject to seal eyes whenever he starts to eat anything. They tend to leave me alone as parsnip soup and steamed veggies don’t seem to have the same appeal as cheese sandwiches and chicken pies so vegetarians have SOMETHING going for them ;). I just finished hanging up my washing on the washing line and the rain has started again. I don’t really mind as I know that my washing will smell lovely when it does eventually dry. I haven’t played Zelda for 2 days (I sound like a recovering alcoholic!) now and am planning on going on a Zelda bender later on tonight (yup…game-aholic alright 😉 ). Steve has been messing about with his new phone and has discovered that aside from taking a halfway decent photograph, it can do some funky things whilst taking said halfway decent photograph. I will leave you to enjoy the rest of your weekend (some of you have more of it left than the rest of us…) with a few of Steve’s experimentations with his phone…

It would seem that an American African woman has stolen our dogs! A photo of yours truly in negative…not too sure…I might actually prefer myself in negative…

The entrance way to the Alanvale Polytechnic Block G (Horticulture) taken in “Solarise” mode

A similar photo taken in the same area using “negative” showing that even mobile phones can take a pretty interesting photo…at least it kept Steve from dying of boredom in the 5 minutes that it took our lecturer to get to our early morning lecture.

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8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kym
    Jul 21, 2012 @ 20:34:24

    Interesting photos Steve. Thanks for the birthday wishes Fran, but my birthday is way after yours, you being older than me lol. Maybe there are no angels on your birthday because you are so special that you don’t need an angel on your day x

    Reply

    • narf77
      Jul 22, 2012 @ 08:28:58

      Not that far after mine Kymmy lol and I am AGES older than you are ;). It’s not angels, its saints…lucky I am not Catholic or I would probably have to flagelate myself for that lol! Even my sister has Adolf Hitler sharing a birthday and I get Pete Burns! Sigh…

      Reply

  2. Pinky
    Jul 22, 2012 @ 09:44:00

    Oh yes theres someone to be proud of that shares your birthdate NOT! I also share mine with George Takei, Ryan O’Neal, Luther Van Dross, Carmen Elektra, Miranda Kerr,Joan Miro (Spanish surrealist painter) and Daniel CHester Finch who apparently sculpted Abraham Lincoln sitting on that huge seat in America wherever! I have the following saints also
    St. Agnes of Montepulciano (Italian, Franciscan sister from age 9, abbess from age 15 to 35, Dominican prioress, visionary, d. 1317 [incorruptible])

    King St. Caedwalla (Welsh, warlike king of Wessex, abdicated to convert, died at about age 30 in 689 in Rome just days after baptism by pope)

    Bl. Dominic Vernagalli of Pisa (Italian, Camaldolese monk, d. 1218)

    Bl. Francis Page (Belgian, Jesuit priest in England, martyred by Elizabethans in 1602 [beatified 1929])

    St. Gundebert (French, courtier, monk in Ireland, martyred by pagan invaders in 8th century)

    Bl. Harduin of Fontenelle (French, Benedictine monk, copyist of the Church Fathers, hermit, d. 811)

    St. Heliane (Italian, virgin, 9th century)

    St. Hugh of Anzy-le-Duc (French, Benedictine prior, c. 930)

    Bl. James Bell and Bl. John Finch (English, priest and married farmer/catechist, tortured and martyred [drawn, hanged, quartered] by Elizabethans in 1584 [beatified 1929])

    Bl. John of Grace-Dieu (French, Cistercian abbot, d. 1280)

    Sts. Marcellinus of Embrun, Vincent, and Domninus (African, priest and missionaries in France, c. 374)

    St. Marcian of Auxerre (French, monk, shepherd, c. 488)

    Bl. Margaret of Amelia (Italian, Benedictine abbess, mystic, d. 1666)

    Bl. Robert Watkinson (English, priest, martyred by Elizabethans in 1602 [beatified 1929])

    Blessed Simon Rinalducci of Todi (Italian, Augustinian provincial, d. 1322)

    Sts. Sulpicius and Servilian (Roman, martyred by beheading c. 117)

    St. Theodore Trichinas (Constantinopolitan [Turkish], hermit, c. 330)

    St. Theotimus of Tomi (Romanian, missionary bishop, d. 407)

    Sts. Victor, Zoticus, Zeno, Acindynus, Caesareus, Severian, Chrysophorus, Theonas, and Antoninus (from Asia Minor [Turkish], martyred c. 303)

    I’m sure you have plenty of saints born on your birthdate Fronkii.

    Reply

    • narf77
      Jul 23, 2012 @ 07:40:39

      Its a wonder WordPress didn’t shove you into my spam file with that enormous comment Pinkus! You are showing off there by the way and I don’t have any saints as we checked the Catholic website…it would seem that my birthday is a saint free zone thus leaving me a challenge eh? ;). Reading your list of famous people reminded me why I didn’t bother listing all of mine! Most of them are sports people (BORING) and I only listed the “interesting” ones. I also had a porn star but she wasn’t up there with Carmen lol… I just want to share my birthday with a nice glass of white wine, a lovely meal cooked for me by Steve (and uncontaminated by Earl hair would be nice…) and all is well with the world with me 🙂

      Reply

  3. Pinky
    Jul 23, 2012 @ 08:50:54

    Can you tell I just cut and pasted it? WordPress probably dont know what or who I am so i’m safe for now, i’ll just lie low for a bit! Hahahahaha. Dinner cooked by Chez Steve sounds brilliant. Want my tip passes? I aint gonna use them over here.
    8)

    Reply

    • narf77
      Jul 23, 2012 @ 11:21:57

      Yes Please! for the tip passes Pinko…they just put the prices up again and it sucks that we have to pay them to dump our green waste and they mulch it and sell it to people for mulch!!! I sent WordPress your address by the way and you will have a representitive (for representitive read “heavy”…) on your doorstep any day soon for clogging up their “precious” bandwidth…lord only knows there isn’t enough bandwidth given to more salubrious wastes of space out there! “Pick on someone your own size WordPress…you leave my little sister alone!”…(Fists up there!) we Stahl girls have to stick together you know! 😉

      Reply

  4. christiok
    Jul 25, 2012 @ 11:38:49

    I love seeing the picture of you and Steve! (and the flowers of course:)

    Reply

    • narf77
      Jul 25, 2012 @ 14:33:06

      I HATE seeing pictures of me…Steve looks different again…can’t be allowing people to get used to how he looks lol…he just trimmed his beard, cut 10 years off himself and looks like a young Greg Kinnear (how does he do it?!!!)…I appear to have inherited my Aunty Freda’s stern (Germanic) look whenever I am concentrating…note to self NEVER concentrate when photos are being taken! The flowers are my way of reminding myself that the grey weather out there is finite and that spring will come one day. Its been cold here for a long time…not a lot of rain, but cold and it’s starting to affect my mood…hurry up spring! 🙂

      Reply

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