Don’t sweat the processes

Hi All

We have been so very clever at sidelining life’s “Processes” as time wasters, energy robbers and too menial for our consideration that we have failed to notice that life is IN the processes. We have fallen victim to the hype and the advertising blurb and we have handed over huge chunks of experience and understanding and knowledge for something with an electrical plug and food prepared beyond its nutritional capabilities on a dyspeptic plastic wrapper and we actually believed that it would give us back something that we were missing…the ironic thing is that what is missing in all of our lives is the process that takes us from A to B to C and back again…the cycles that make up our birth, our life and our death are all interconnected and designed to teach us vital lessons so that we can live each precious moment of whatever time we have here on earth. I realised this when I was walking from my daughter’s home to where the Food Sustainability day was being held. I had an umbrella clutched in my hand to shore myself against the rain and soon fell into a regular gait that matched my thoughts. Where do we think we are going in such an almighty rush and what are we expecting to find at the end of it? Are we all losing our happiness in simple moments thanks to an exponential expectation of needs that we are assured are not (are NEVER) being met? I backed out like a hermit crab on steroids of mainstream treadmill hell quite a few years ago. I gave away my right to be a supermodel (an obvious choice), a superlative career on the stage (my 2 years of Speech and Drama assured me of something akin to acting Nirvana…) and any claim to being the most popular person in the world, a lesson learned way back at the age of 4 when Chad Johnson assured me of my position in the pack by telling me I was fat. I pushed Chad Johnson in the pond and was severely chastised for my efforts (but MAN it felt good to show him that assholes don’t always win and set me up for a lifetime of truth, justice and the Aussie way! 😉 ). I gave it all up folks for a chance to live a “real” life. To be able to take the time to bumble my way through my own personal experiences in my own good time and find out just what this life actually means to “me”.

Steve’s clever idea for how to achieve extra space on our countertops

Bags of mushroom compost waiting to be unloaded and stored for future use and for garnering a crop or two of mushrooms before that.

Glad (ys) next door is turning 90 on Saturday. We bought her a card with an elderly (no doubt younger than her but you wouldn’t know it!) lady with her bloomers in the air on the ascent of a ride on a swing. I dare say she will get her fill of flowery, sentimental cards. From her reprobate neighbours she will get her card with “Happy 22nd” written inside it, she will get a spongecake with some precious elixir jam from Olalla so that she can taste Olalla heaven at least once in her life and she will get a dozen Serendipity Farm eggs. I would give her 4 dozen but she doesn’t eat many eggs and my gift would end up a hindrance. Glad has taught me about resilience, about how living out in the bush all by yourself is not something to be feared. This 90 year old lady (and I use the word “lady” without hesitation!) heads out into her garden and walks around the block every day. She is as quick as a whippet and twice as fast in a verbal relay and if I wasn’t worried that she was thinking that I was “in her pocket” I would visit her more often. She grows vegetables every year, she laughs like a stevedore (I haven’t heard her swear but I dare say if she did, it would be with gusto) and she gives me the hope that old age isn’t all it’s made out to be. On the pointy end of 49 I am putting out my mental tendrils and am tentatively touching “aging” as one of my new parameters. Glad has shown me that it’s nothing to fear. That is something special and precious Glad, thank you for being our neighbour :o).

Spring comes to Serendipity Farm along with some purest green

I am relishing my penniless student hippy requirement to be thrust right back into the dreaded “Life Processes”. I am apparently a loser…someone who doesn’t consume much and thus a burden on society. The last sentence is not my personal view but that of any advertising agency in the world. I won’t be buying a new car any day soon…I don’t want to buy the latest shoes, makeup or haute couture…I am trying to minimise my spending and my carbon footprint down as far as I can and in the process I am automatically negated entirely in their eyes and I couldn’t be happier! I am really enjoying learning how to make sourdough and am bucking the trend for needing “more time for ME” in my life. I am starting to discover that “ME” is in the processes as well…I am finding my own personal rhythm, my own personal pace and mental alacrity as I tend the chickens, feed the sourdough starter every two days, fetch wood for the fire and I am finding a sense of peace, happiness and direction that only appeared when I gave up trying to keep up on that societal treadmill to nowhere. I like “wasting my time” for 3 days to bake a loaf of sourdough bread that is going to feed more than my body. I like pulling time out of my day to read…to research…to learn…to take my mind where it hasn’t been before. I might not be able to ever set foot on the moon (if, indeed ANYONE ever has…) BUT I am able to land my own personal mindspace craft on a new planet of information each and every day. What’s not to love about that? “Swings and roundabouts”…we make trades every day of our lives and how many of us actually think about the consequences of those trades that we make mindlessly and assisted only by someone with profit margins and not our own interests at heart?

Herman safely in his fruit pot. Note the bent lid…he has been forcing his way out!

Herman doing his best baby bird impression to get me to feed him

I am slowly (and admittedly fearfully) making my way through my rss feed reader that becomes packed to the back gills if I leave it for a single day, let alone a week. I love all of the blogs that I have crammed into my overworked reader and always greedy for something, I have stuffed my mind full of their delicious contents…can your mind get obese? I think mine is approaching Jabber the Hutt status as I type this. Hopefully I don’t have a mental coronary and end up sitting halfway through a post with far-away eyes (cheers for that one Mr Jagger 😉 ) and drool running down my chin but that’s the risk I take…”someone has to do it!” I absorbed so much information when I went to the Food Sustainability day run by the Tamar NRM that my brain got tired. Even with a few beige speakers who were intent on elevating themselves to some personal Nirvana by educating we lesser human beings (yeh like we NEED to know about pressure cookers or how little we know about soils actual chemical composition and how f@#*ing fantastic your own soil is!) that I could tune out and allow my overly excited brain a bit of a rest in-between the quality stuff, this little black duck wanted it all! I got all sorts of websites (curiously, the link to the techy beige persons amazing you beaut PDF for we mere mortals to gain his quality information from didn’t work 😉 ) to eke out my need to find out more. Some might call it nosey; I choose to think of myself as “pro knowledge”. I have been researching pyrolysis, biochar, permaculture and all things to do with food sustainability in our local environment and have discovered hectares of precious information for the taking. I feel like a rat let loose in a cereal factory and I can feel my brain swelling with each and every delicious morsel.

Herman and “the others” on the proving rack over Brunhilda

A quick hunt online and we suddenly had a solution for what to do with “The Others”

In the dehydrator soon to be joined by 8 more trays that after a day are just about dehydrated and tomorrow will be nice and crispy and dry and ready to crumble up and store away “just in case” or for any friends wanting a starter

I don’t think that I could ever be a “real” writer. I love words too much. I couldn’t cull them and cut them and my natural verbosity comes from a desire to cloth myself in description. I wouldn’t be able to keep an editor long because of my passionate desire to pad out life with descriptions. I don’t work well with others, ask poor Steve  ;).  It’s a glorious day outside! Who would have thought that the weather man could be so heinously wrong? I could have washed my blankets today…I could have planned a day out in the garden…I could have stood on my head in the sunshine and performed some complicated yoga move (I am sure I could find one online) but NO…I believed the weather man again and made plans for a wet day holed up inside. “Fool me once, shame on you…fool me twice, shame on ME!” No more Mr Weatherman! You have fooled me once too often and it will be a cold day in purgatory before I believe your silver tongue again! I am just waiting for Steve to make one of his new signature Serendipity 4Q hangers. He got the idea from a photo on Facebook and he has been ruminating about them ever since. He is sending one of them down the road to our friend’s house where I am just about to deliver 1 dozen eggs and a banksia that we grew from seed. At least ONE of our potted plants will find a happy forever home out in the soil. Our friend asked us if we would like any old rope net because he has been getting heaps of it from the local fish farm. Yes PLEASE! I can see vegetable gardens free of possum invasion in our collective near future! Generosity breeds generosity and I fully believe that if you are a generous spirit, when you need something, the universe will find a way to give it to you. That’s always been my creed and I am not going to stop thinking like that any day soon. It helps when you don’t have a whole lot of anything to be free with though ;). I love the bartering process. I love slicing the middle man neatly from the entire transaction and going straight to the source. I used to like watching Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall barter for what he wanted by working or cooking or doing other strange things to enable him to gain what he needed. I think he has underlings bartering for him now but more credit to him; he certainly puts his money where his ethics are so he is still my numero uno sustainability television hero of choice. I am a frivolous creature though, fickle to the core so don’t get too comfortable in your esteemed position sunshine…I am likely to dump you like a hotcake should you ever turn tail and head down the mass consumerist road like several of my past heroes have done!

I think I am going to enter Steve in the local Agricultural Show this year in the “Spongecake” class…I think he has a chance don’t you?

Herman after his measuring out and feeding this morning. Hopefully he doesn’t mind his new glass container (kids can be so tempermental!)

I have inherited a monster! I should have known when my new sourdough turned up smelling like booze and he had escaped his container that he was going to be a handful. I have the sourdough starter equivalent of Earl running amok on Serendipity Farm. 1 became 2 that became 4 that became 8 that went back to 5 because I gave 3 of them to new homes. Then we turned 2 into the 3 day project known as “sourdough bread manufacture”. Today we fed them and they took so much flour that I ended up with 2 large casserole dishes full of dough and a very large ceramic bowl overflowing with manic frothing vinegar hell bent on taking over the kitchen. I just threw every last skerrick of flour that we have left in the house into the bubbling cauldron and hopefully the inclusion of the remains of a forgotten packet of wholemeal flour might just suck up some of its enthusiasm. I feel like we are living on borrowed time and tomorrow…we bake! I am off for our first meeting of the Tamar Permaculture Permablitz Society. I just made that up. Really, we are just a motley crew of passionate misfits with a desire to change the world, one property at a time. I think I just created our advertising blurb! I have no idea who is going to turn up to this first meeting aside from me and Frances. Me because I need this and Frances because it’s her house so she doesn’t get a say in it. Again I find myself tapping away late at night after realising that I will be away most of the day tomorrow and when I get back I will be held in slavetude by at least 4 sourdough loaves that will be barking at their container rims and demanding that they be baked. I baked off some roasted veggies today including some lovely small parsnips, some carrots, sweet potatoes (both orange and white) and the remains of a pumpkin just about to turn various mouldy shades of the rainbow before I halted it in its descent into madness. I used some garlic oil that I found in the fridge that had a curious scent of cinnamon until I realised that I had omitted to wash the cinnamon out of the jar before I grabbed it to store the oil so I decided to balance the flavour/scent with cumin and coriander. I used some of the roasted veggies to line some miniature vegan tartlets that I made for tomorrows “do” and I made a batch of borlotti bean hummus to spread under the veggies. I made another batch of small tarts with some home-made roasted cashew cheese and asparagus, artichoke, grilled capsicum and mushroom and black olive. The remainder of the roasted veggies are going to be tossed into tomorrow night’s barley risotto, a nice easy meal after what promises to be a long and exciting day. I will take as many photos as my shutterbug fingers will let me as I want to share this process with you all. As we progress through our understanding of Permaculture and how to apply it to our requirements. In the meantime, I will be shackled to the kitchen counter feeding and baking sourdough bread. I half expected my sourdough experience to be a brief and sad affair resulting in something akin to a brick on a plate that I would put aside and rarely speak of again in anything but a derisory manner, however I was wrong! This sourdough starter doesn’t want to die; indeed it appears to have a very Napoleonic view of Serendipity Farm. Bring it on you sour froggie… the offspring of Attila the Hun is waiting for you! (Well…I DO have Germanic heritage 😉 ).

Steve picked me this bunch of free range daffies and in our recycled cut blue wine bottle who could ask for a prettier kitchen window? 🙂

Another manic week comes to a close. What is it about spring that seems to turbo-charge the environment and makes everything go so much faster? “I” don’t go any faster! I have a degree of internal excitement that would like me to go faster but I am doing my best to quash it before it erupts and causes me to do something that I may regret at a later date like order some kefir milk grains or start making sauerkraut. I think I will trundle my way into spring this time and remain aware, lucid and able to make credible judgement calls. The blackbirds, wattle birds, sparrows, wrens, Cuckoo Shrikes and every single hen on Serendipity Farm are on a fast track to crazy land but this little black duck is marching to the beat of her own drum this time! See you all on Wednesday and stand steadfast and take the change of seasons in your own good time :o).

7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. christiok
    Aug 26, 2012 @ 13:57:05

    To my real writer Tasmanian friend — I love this, “Generosity breeds generosity.” So it is with your effervescent enthusiasm for all good things, bubbling over like sourdough starter, inspiring me to make strawberry fruit leathers on the other side of the world after seeing yours last week. Delicious. Cheers to Glad, Steve’s gorgeous spongecake, and your new group of local permies!


    • narf77
      Aug 26, 2012 @ 14:43:33

      Well done on the fruit leather! Try them with yoghurt. My daughters said that they were the best fruit leather that they had ever had and they seem to last for ages (so long as the daughters don’t find the container that you are storing them in and devour the lot!). Steve says “Cheers!” regarding the spongecake. He has “the knack” and is also our top soup maker on Serendipity Farm. Who would have thought that you could take some green split peas, a couple of onions, some garlic, a few carrots and celery and add some ground coriander and a lemon and it would taste fantastic! I don’t know how he does it as if I combined the aforementioned ingredients, the homogenous mass that eventuated would have missed the point entirely! Glad loved her cake and was most interested that the jam came from Olalla. She loves rhubarb and I am sure that she will really enjoy her cake 🙂
      I must say I wasn’t all that enthralled with the group that met yesterday. It wasn’t what I thought that it would be and was more a get together of a few locals to chew the fat and have a cuppa. I am a bit past that stage and want to actually “DO” but got coerced into having the next fat chewing episode at Serendipity Farm (I am very BAD at saying “No!”… sigh…) but I am trying to turn a “frown upside down” and actually get something accomplished when they turn up. The lady who’s house the meeting was held at has worked overseas creating permaculture gardens and is a university lecturer for geomorphology (must look up what that is!) and is very clever but somewhat brusque. She talked about Mandalas and I am going to see if she would like us to assemble the materials and we could all set out a Mandala on Serendipity Farm and I could take photos (while I worked of course 😉 ) to share with everone on the blog. At least it would be a productive meeting and they would earn their cuppa! ;). Generosity certainly does breed generosity by the way. Its my creed and it took a little while to get Steve to understand why I gave so much away, but now he gets it. If you don’t need it, give it away! When you need something, (and I am talking “need” here rather than “want”…) it invariably arrives just in time. The universe is in ebb and flow like every other cycle on earth and is constantly striving for equilibrium and if you give…its kind of obvious, even to a “logical scientist” who would scorn “woo-woo” (lol 😉 ) that there has to be a bit of “take” coming to fill that gap! Fran’s hybridised logical physics 101 to the rescue! :).


  2. brymnsons
    Aug 27, 2012 @ 23:16:33

    Sponge looks amazing!!!! A great way to learn to say no, Fran, is to look in the mirror and practice saying no to it several times. 🙂 Good luck with the sourdough bread, shame we don’t have tasteability with computers


  3. Hannah (BitterSweet)
    Aug 29, 2012 @ 10:32:00

    I think that the great irony of consumerism is that the things we’re all purchasing actually have no real value. Things that have value are just what you’re cultivating: a connection to the earth, to your community, and well-being overall. Money really can’t buy happiness, so you’re far from the loser here. Society has it wrong- Is it any surprised that we’re the most stressed, depressed, and generally messed up generation yet?

    Anyhow… I’d trade a day of shopping for a day of bread-making in a heartbeat! That truly is a gorgeous loaf.


    • narf77
      Aug 29, 2012 @ 13:19:39

      I think you might be getting the “gorgeous loaf” mixed up with Steve’s latest spongecake Hannah! He says “thank you” anyway ;). He isn’t quite sure whether to take it as a compliment or an insult as bread isn’t usually feather light lol ;). I baked 4 vinegar bricks the other day that I promptly hacked up and tossed into the compost heap to activate it (I hate wasting things). I was less than impressed to say the least! I have now found a better recipe that involves actual kneading and have reduced my rye componant down and the unbleached white organic flour ratio up and am messing about with using 100% and 75% hydration rates. I also found a great recipe for fermented fruit leather! Shopping makes me twitch! The only kind of shopping that makes my heart sing is shopping for unusual ethnic food ingredients or walking into a tea emporium that has teapots and wonderful Middle Eastern cups. Now THAT is shopping! I must admit to being happier out in the boondocks of Tasmania than I have ever been in living memory :). Guess who accidentally ordered the wrong book and is just about to take posession of Vegan Desserts…sigh…they only have 9 left in stock so I am going to have to order and wait AGAIN! You are proving to be incredibly popular young lady! I now have your wonderful summer heaven book of vegan frozen treats that I have been slavering over since I got it yesterday. What wonderful books you write! I can only imagine how organised you are because this book is wonderful and you now have a loyal fan ready to buy every book you publish 🙂


      • Hannah (BitterSweet)
        Aug 29, 2012 @ 13:44:13

        Oh no! That’s what I get for reading too quickly, and on a tiny, jumpy, iphone screen no less… I thought that you somehow made a feather-light sourdough, and thus was very impressed. It does make more sense when you look at it as a cake, but anything is possible with baking, right?

        Aww, thank you so much, I’m so grateful that you like the book! Organized nothing, I’m lucky that these things somehow come together at the last minute. Truly, my book writing process is: Make stuff, take down lists of ingredients and baking times. Photograph everything, edit photos. Make something else, rinse and repeat. THEN, after all the baking is done, I’ll finally go back and write out all of the recipes, intros, and actual content. It really is miraculous that it somehow all works out and becomes a useable cookbook in the end. 🙂

      • narf77
        Aug 29, 2012 @ 16:47:14

        Keep on being disorganised then, you do a great job 😉

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