Hot, hot HOT down in sizzling Sidmouth

Hi Folks,

Back to my normal posting style (if, indeed, I have one) for today’s post. My life lessons for this week have been tangled up in painting and hacking through blackberries and walking Earl at a somewhat brisk pace, sometimes doubling back on ourselves at an alarming speed and with humorous results but that’s another story…The temperature continues to rise on Serendipity Farm and all over Australia. I got back from walking Earl this morning (Sunday) and found Steve and Bezial sitting on one of the rugs on the deck. It’s a lovely place out there now and an additional “room” that we can take advantage of over the summer period. Our local government gave “cash back” incentives to people who had their fireplaces removed and who installed electric heat/cooling pumps in order to “minimise pollution”. For a government who is pushing this pulp mill like flogging a dead horse and who can’t be bothered policing anything environmental you have to think that there might just be an agenda involved with that decision and you don’t even have to poke it with a stick before you see that as the primary shareholders in our power, the government has somewhat vested interests in us all cashing in our solid fuel heaters and paying through the nose for electricity.

Garden Advisory Service

I pinched this from Mr Leunig. I love it 🙂 If you feel like suing me Mr Leunig, I will pay you in zucchini, the legal tender on Serendipity Farm 😉

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If you don’t believe me…here I am, using Earl’s not inconsiderable bonce as a size comparison for this monster. Last week this was a tiddler. A week later it is over a foot long

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This is to show you how hot it has been around here of late. This candle was artistically doing duty out on the front deck. It had been doing duty out there for years. Not even Earl had bothered with it, but this year it decided to take one look at our summer and gave up the ghost. It melted. THAT is how hot it is here folks!

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Aren’t these bumper stickers amazing? Linne of the eclectic and most crafty and world wise blog A Random Harvest sent these beauties to me so that I can put Trogdor in pride of place on our little 4 x 4 battle wagon’s tailgate. Every time I look at these stickers I smile because I am reminded of how amazing it is to be able to share a good friendship with someone on the other side of the world. Back when we were kids, Linne and I would have had to send snail-mail letters and be pen pals but now we can chat, send messages and comment almost instantaneously…and they say that technology is bad! Thankyou from the bottom of my little Trogdor infused heart Linnie and BIG (hot sweaty) hugs from Sidmouth to you 🙂

The catch 22 situation involved with that is that Tasmanian’s are sooky la-las when it comes to any variations in Temperature. They have real problems when the temperatures go up any higher than 25C and down any lower than 0C and those heat/cooking pumps and air conditioners start humming like a swarm of bees on the move. Tasmania is a relatively small state but when the entire population turn on their electrical cooling at the first sign that it might just be a warm day, something’s got to give and what happens is that we have rolling power outages. We just lost power for about 15 minutes. I could care less because everything that we need for the duration is gas or “other” powered. It is more of a nuisance for us to be honest but think of how later in the day when it really IS hot, those outages are going to impact on when the coolers are really needed…numpties tend not to think. That is my explanation for a “numpty”, “People who try their very hardest NOT to use the brain that God gave them”. Simple…and the sad thing is that ¾ of Tasmanian’s are like that through no fault of their own and through a systematic and most nefarious  population control by corrupt state government and big business (predominately the forestry industry and its key players).

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This is matcha green tea powder. My wonderful daughters purchased it for me. By the way girls I found that small baggie I pinched from you! Want it back? 😉 I used some of it to make myself a delicious hot matcha sesame milk sweetened with date paste. It was delicious 🙂

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This is how we Earl proof Steve’s music room in order for him not to roast every time he wants to play guitar in there

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We didn’t have the luxury of more of those gate/door thingo’s to put on the middle room but it needed airing out and so we had to formulate an Earl proof plan…do you like it? I call it “Chair…like you are going in THERE sunshine!” 😉

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I shall show you this once. We shall speak of it no more after this one time. This…is the letter “P”. It once took pride of place between the “O” key and the “{[” key on our keyboard. I closed Earl and Bezial in the house when I was painting the deck boards and when I came back inside I checked for collateral damage (like you do) and couldn’t see anything. I sat down to check emails and was oblivious to anything until I attempted to type the letter “P” and found an empty space. I went hunting for the letter and discovered it on the floor with these tell-tale tooth marks on it. What I want to know is how the heck did Earl manage to extract this key from a keyboard without moving the keyboard from its original position and without doing any other damage to the keyboard?!!! (Be afraid… be VERY afraid!)

When education is pushed down to sub-necessary, it is very easy to fool the population most of the time when half of them can’t actually read or understand how to fill in a form. So when the state government tells them to “get a heat pump” most of them mindlessly “baaaa” their way to the nearest Harvey Norman store where they can hock themselves up to the eyeballs for the next few years. Don’t forget, most of we Taswegians are unemployed or underemployed and thus expensive new heating and cooling systems represent a large proportion of our income. The poverty cycle in Tasmania means that many Tasmanian’s are unable to pay the huge power bills that are being accrued by their adhering to state government urging and a spiral of poverty is forcing people into heading to charities in order to make ends meet.

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Here you have Serendipity Farm partially completed…

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Then we painted the weather damaged cedar…

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Then I decided to paint this old bench that Steve and I built years ago with timbers on the property…

You won’t hear about that on the news or read about it in the newspapers. You find out about it by living here and seeing how things work. It does foster a sub culture of resilience however. It is amazing to see how people get by, get around and just “get” themselves from A to B when they need to and there are none more generous than people who know how hard it is to be down and out. Tasmanians are very generous givers to charity. They help out a mate and they will share what they have. I have found that this occurs wherever there is a welfare belt or when people are subject to living below the poverty line. My grandmother would have said “needs must…” and she was right. When you can’t get what you want with the folding green, you have to find another way. There are good and bad things about every situation and learning how to be resilient is right up there with the best skills you can learn in life.

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Then after what felt like an ETERNITY we ended up with this 🙂

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Which turned into this. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea but it suits us just fine 🙂

While the power was out I headed up to water the veggie garden (triffids). Steve hooked up the Mumbly Cumumbus and headed out with a spring in his step, his battered old straw hat with an imported beer logo on it a past gift from our generous daughters and a 20 litre bucket just in case he actually catches anything. Steve loves to trawl around the Tamar in the sunshine with the smell of the salty air, the breeze blowing up his shorts (why do they call them shorts when they are down to his knees?!!!) and as many fishing rods in the water as he has digits to hold them. Much like a “mans shed”, a “man’s tinnie (small aluminium dinghy)” is vital to his happiness when he lives in close proximity to any body of water.

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Knowing that we had an impending visit from Kym and Bruce I decided to tidy up a bit. I moved a lot of things and simplified and this is the new kitchen setup. Nice and simple and clean lines. No doubt it will take me all of a week to take it back to cluttered but I now have this image to remind me how nice it looks when there aren’t bits of sea glass, stones, seed pots, plant material etc. littered all over the place 😉

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Here we have Stevie the fix-it-man wonder boy (who is turning 49 at the end of January) putting the “new” shower door on the shower. We got given the door by a friends wonderful mother and it certainly makes our lives happier. Now Earl can sit and stare at me as I shower…not disturbing at ALL! 😉

I started to sketch down ideas for this post but as usual, I am free forming. I need to check out if choko’s (Chayote’s) are annual, biannual or perennial because my choko from last year is still in a pot in the glasshouse and I have a nice spot in the garden for it to climb up one of the supporting poles (circus poles) so that it can grow with impunity.  I just went and checked and it is “a long lived vigorous, tender herbaceous perennial vine with tuberous roots”. “WOOT!” so that means I now need to find someplace it can grow happily in perpetuity. I also found out some interesting and useful information about it…”The leaves and fruit have diuretic, cardiovascular and anti-inflammatory properties, and infusions of the leaves were used to dissolve kidney stones.” Always good to know that your food has other uses

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Here you can see just how bewildered Stevie-boy can get when faced with an appliance that is more bolshie than I am. He eventually got this hot water system to go but he can’t tell you how or he would have to kill you

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This is what is left of our 900 potted plants that we ferried here as wide eyed city folk. We had SUCH plans! Those plans have faded into obscurity and we are still trying to work out where to put these last few plants on Serendipity Farm or if, indeed, they have a place here at all. They are revelling in water here. Narf7 forgot that she had put the overhead sprinklers on and came out about 2 hours late (I know CRINGE!) to find the duck wading in water and quacking merrily. At least someone was happy with all of that water gone down the proverbial and literal drain 😦

I also wanted to share this paragraph from a post that I read this morning from the blog Zenhabits. It came from a list of shake-up’s that the author had given himself to get himself motivated out of a blue funk. It affected me predominately and made me really think about living each day to the fullest…

“I remembered that this day counts. I only have so many days left on earth. I don’t know how many that is, but I do know it’s a very limited number. I know that each one of those limited days is a gift, a blessing, a miracle. And that squandering this miracle is a crime, a horrible lack of appreciation for what I’ve been given. And so, I reminded myself this morning that this day counts. That I should do something with it. That doesn’t mean I need to work myself into the ground, type until my fingers are mere nubs, but that I should do something worthwhile. Sometimes taking a break to nourish yourself is a worthwhile activity, because that allows you to do other worthwhile things, but just sitting around in self-pity isn’t helpful, I’ve found. So I got up and did something.”

Often, just getting up and doing something is enough to get you someplace where life looks and feels a bit better. I looked out over the Batman Bridge at the expanse of water below and the gorgeous countryside I was walking through and the beauty of the early morning tinged with the warmth of the sun’s rays and felt truly blessed.

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I took this shot this morning when I was walking Earl to show you how overcast it was. Overcast, foreboding and humid out the wazoo! Not my favourite kind of day but at least we have a nice breeze blowing and that makes up for too many degrees on the thermometer (almost…)

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We saw this lovely little fellow taking a rest on the road. You can see how dry the soil is in this image

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We also saw this…”EEK!” Council have been mowing the grassy roadside verges and this little fellow appears to have been “reaped”

I discovered a food blog yesterday that made me sit up and take notice. I am a bit of a habit former when it comes to what I eat. I develop a repertoire and tend to just plod along eating the same old same old because by the time I get to my evening meal I am usually semi-asleep on my feet. Not anymore! I have seen this blog in my peripherals as I wade through the morass of vegan food blogs and “alternative” foodie sites in my early morning exploration of “grub”. I discounted it for 2 reasons.

  1. “Veggie num num”.  I REST MY CASE! Anything with a name as ridiculous as this is likely to drive me insane in the first 5 minutes of perusing it.
  2. It is a “vegetarian” blog, not vegan

So I have been sliding around the edges of this blog for a while now. It keeps coming up and waving at me from a distance and I keep putting my head down and walking in the opposite direction. Yesterday we collided. You know when you see the love interests in a movie collide? Well it was like that. I think I just found my new passion on a wholesome tasty stick. I stumbled over one of Trudy’s scrumptious looking, most inventive recipes on Pinterest and it piqued my interest to visit the site ostensibly to plunder the recipe but also to have a stickybeak around. It was love at first site! I don’t think I have found a single recipe yet (and there are legion) that I didn’t want to race out to the bbq and cook. I will be working my way through this amazingly creative ladies recipes for the foreseeable future. My wooden spoons will be redolent of spices and interesting flavour combinations and I will be substituting buckwheat for rice, rice noodles for wheat noodles and mucking around with the components of the recipes that are vegetarian and turning them veganise.

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I love Shasta daisies 🙂 I HATE Osteospermum daisies. Not much difference between them really but the Shasta’s are welcome here, welcome to spread all over the place but I frown whenever I see an invading Osteospermum daisy. Horses for courses folks… horses for courses 😉

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The ONLY way we are going to get sunchokes/Jerusalem artichokes on Serendipity Farm is to protect them like this. Apparently wallabies love artichokes of any kind and even though they are hardy and drought tolerant, being chewed down to stumps makes it awfully hard to survive 😦

I learned about perseverance and the power of extreme passion when it comes to overcoming adversity. Narf7 + blackberries = “adversity” on STEROIDS. The extended wet winter that we just had combined with our inability to get out into the garden has seen the blackberries and spear (scotch) thistles take over Serendipity Farm. While I was focussing on the forget-me-nots I forgot that there are worse things than having your upper eyelids stuck to your hairline. Spear thistles are not my friend. I don’t care that you can make vegan rennet from them because to get that rennet you have to allow them to grow and my mission in life is to hamper their growth at all costs. I wasn’t intending to tackle the spear thistle and blackberry problem that now inhabits the second garden almost completely when I headed down with my trusty secateurs yesterday. I was going to spend 10 minutes pruning a few stray tendrils of blackberry and a lot of plectranthus that went feral with all the rain. I didn’t even take gloves…

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New growth on one of  the Brachychiton discolor that we planted out. They are all adapting well and none of them have died yet

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Coming up the driveway today…

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Part of the tea-tree garden where Steve whipper snipped. It might be full to the brim with forget-me-not seeds but at least it looks tidy now 😉

You would have thought that I would have realised that this task might be a little more complex than was immediately apparent when I couldn’t actually see through the archway to the garden behind it, but not narf7…I am not known for my observatory powers, and so I headed into the battle completely unaware that I was going to have to fight tooth and nail for my tiny patch of ground. I also should have known that it was going to be a hard slog because Steve had abandoned his hedge trimmer in the immediate vicinity and was in his shed “cleaning up” and whistling in a most nonchalant way… I started by noting that some of the blackberry canes were HUGE! I was a bit bemused because last year I cut them all back and wouldn’t have thought it possible for them to have grown so enormous in the space of a single year. I was wrong. The blackberry mother (like the alien mother…) is a very protective creature. The worst and most thorny canes are usually on the outside of the blackberries boundaries and are the fruiting canes. You have to tackle them first before you can breach the mother and she ALWAYS puts up a good fight.

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Here’s that little choko that I have yet to find a forever home for in the veggie garden. He seems to be very happy at the moment in the glasshouse but I am sure he would rather be climbing up one of the garden poles or a tree on the side of the garden

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Avocado trees grown from seeds, turmeric starting to shoot (in the black pots at the front of this photo) and over to the right, my little mango trees that I grew from seed. Aint nature grand? 🙂

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A closer shot of those turmeric shoots absolutely loving the conditions inside the glasshouse now it is covered in protective netting and feels like tropical North Queensland inside

2 hours later narf7 was in the blazing sun, howling like a banshee at each small victory. Cut to ribbons with blood streaming down my arms and each cane cut and thrown onto a large tarpaulin felt like a major victory in the war. I managed to get the archway opened up and was faced with a dense forest of spear thistles that were equally as defensive of their territory…add to that the blackberries had spread to most of the gardens in the area, everything has grown exponentially over spring and no-one has mown the grass in this area and you can probably see why I decided to decamp back to base to plot my next move. This coming week will see me triumph. I know I will triumph because unlike blackberries, I don’t have to rely on my spines, I have a mind so sharp you could cut cheese with it and I am formulating a cunning plan (hopefully not as cunning as one of Baldric from the Black Adder series “cunning plans”…) The blackberries and spear thistles may be heavily fortified, in possession of the territory and heavily outweigh narf7’s in this war BUT I have my trusty secateurs, a pair of welding gloves (that I WILL remember to take down with me, “forewarned is forearmed”!) and a trusty pair of loppers to bypass those nasty reaching canes that grab you on your nether regions when you bend to pick up their fallen brethren. I SHALL triumph!

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The ubiquitous weekly compost shot. I know that some of you poor polar vortex infused Northerners are living vicariously through my compost heap so here is a gratuitous shot just for you to print out and put on your fridge 😉

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Not “Where’s Wally?”…”Where’s Bezially?”

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One of 2 cardamom plants that seem to be tough as nails that are still surviving here on Serendipity Farm after years of neglect

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The view of my fecund vegetable plants (trifids)

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Beetroots! 🙂

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Tomato “weeds” that seeded outside the garden. Best kind of weeds methinks

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I dug this red clover up from the side of the road last year and lugged it back home in my bag. It is now almost a metre across and loving it and flowering prolifically. Weeds? Nope, very useful plants 🙂

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My potatoes are all starting to flower. The only think I know about potato flowers is that if they are white, the spuds are white and if they are pink, you have pink skinned spuds. That is ALL I know. I also think it means I might get some potatoes this year but I am not holding my breathe 😉

Well it looks like this is a long post and I am going to finish up here for the week. At the beginning of the week, my zucchini plants had small fruit on them about as long as my little finger. At the end of the week they are pick able. The yellow zucchini appear to be much slower growing but I am going to have to watch the green zucchini and the patty-pan squash as they are off the chart when it comes to exponential growth and now that Veggie num num has come to my rescue and suggested some excellent recipes for me to try that use the humble zucchini and I noticed this gorgeous Chocolate, cherry and zucchini cake on Angela of Canned Time’s blog and am going to have to make it because it looks like moist, unctuous, dark chocolaty heaven on a stick that I can use up zucchini in and that I can actually eat…and no doubt I am going to have to think of ways to preserve it for later use. I will be fermenting some, using it in just about everything and offloading it to my unsuspecting children (girls…you don’t suspect alright? ;)).

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It’s too hot to cook indoors so tonight Kym, Bruce, Steve and I are having a bbq. They are having narf7’s homemade beef burgers with the lot – bacon, Serendipity Farm eggs, cheese, sliced pickled beetroot (its an Aussie thing 😉 ), salad and tomatoes with condiments. I then decided that I should probably go out on a limb and provide some kind of nibblies for when we have drinkies… so I bought some bbq crisps, made some narf friendly hummus with rice crackers and veggies and made this strange 70’s hedgehog. I have NO idea why our mothers were not all neurotic and insane for having to produce these hedgehogs at a moments notice right through the decade of the 70’s. They were haute cuisine at the time and I have my suspicions that they were made out of processed cheese as feta and crumbly tasty cheddar do NOT like to be forced onto cocktail sticks!

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Lastly, I found this wonderful delight on the interweb…I was contemplating making it for Kym and Bruce’s meal tonight. I just KNOW they would have loved it. I might save it for when the queen comes to visit Serendipity Farm. She looks like someone who would truly appreciate this delightful vintage 70’s dish. I will stick with the hedgehog 😉

I just found an awesome book that I am trying to request from the library (but those rolling power outages seem to have hit their site so I will have to wait a bit and retry) and that I am going to buy ASAP called “Perennial Vegetables: From Artichokes to Zuiki Taro, A Gardener’s Guide to Over 100 Delicious and Easy to Grow Edibles” by Eric Toensmeier. I used the Google book format to find out the information about the choko/chayote via this book and just had a little look at it and it is wonderful! Book Depository, here I come! I just found the book 25% off at a local seller called Fishpond.com.au so narf7 is even happier! Have a great week folks. To my northern friends suffering under the umbrella of frigid cold that the Polar Vortex has brought to you all, enjoy your marshmallows and hot chocolate because sooner than you know you will be back up to your armpits in the heat of summer again 😉

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52 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Namita
    Jan 15, 2014 @ 16:38:44

    Hello Fran,
    I was reading the newspaper yesterday and wondered at the high temperatures in Australia. It said that the kangaroos are dying and the bats are dropping dead. What fluctuations and variations in weather in the world. Some places are freezing, some of the places here are reporting temperatures as low as -19 degrees C while some places almost sizzling! Somewhere we are also responsible for fiddling with nature and being insensitive.
    I loved your painted, polished and spruced up home. You must be so much at peace so happy doing it all by yourself. The way you’ve made your room Earl “proof” by blocking the entrance with chairs, reminds me us doing the same to stop out daughter from going to the study where she would invariably tumble down the books and touch the computer. I am also quite surprised how Earl would have removed the key without the key board being disturbed! smart boy!
    Your beets are looking lovely and potato promising good crop, loved the tender zucchini and the grand avocado plants. We use turmeric immensely in our curries. it is a great anti oxidant and ant septic. we use it in our face packs too. I love the great variety of plants you have maintained.
    I hope that temperatures come down in your part of the world, till then take care!
    love and regards’
    Namita

    Reply

    • narf77
      Jan 15, 2014 @ 16:42:31

      Cheers for the lovely comment Namita 🙂 I was really excited when my turmeric started to grow! The cardamom must be very hardy as it keeps it’s leaves all winter long but having all of the turmeric that I planted re-shoot this year was a huge bonus :). Thankyou for your lovely comment, you just made me feel great 🙂

      Reply

  2. quarteracrelifestyle
    Jan 15, 2014 @ 17:59:43

    Gosh you’re a busy girl, busy couple!!!!!!!!
    Your garden is looking great Fran, truly great. You have such alot going on, I don’t know how you have the energy. What a neat gift from Linne, she is a sweetie 🙂 🙂

    I will have to look into growing my own tumeric as I seem to be using alot, I have 2 sipper bottles a day of it as it’s also a good anti-inflammatory, like your choko. I don’t like choko but know others who love it.

    Your porch looks lovely, a really nice colour. Your heat doesn’t sound good, I can get to 28 before I start to wilt and like you it gets hotter in the evenings.

    Thanks for the food site. I saw Seeded Banana Bread on Pinterest yesterday and I think I pinned it but not sure if same site or not. And yes, the paragraph you pinched works for me too and made me think. I tend to plod some days, restless days with not much achieved so I need to heed his words!!

    Reply

    • narf77
      Jan 16, 2014 @ 05:56:51

      I guess those words are more pertinent to me now that I am 50. I don’t particularly like chokos either but when I saw that they have great medicinal uses I figured that they might be worth including and you can make a nice jam out of them and they are a good filler food, grated in the background, in things like cakes etc. so my little choko deserves a place here :). The turmeric seems to be going alright here and this is it’s second appearance so methinks we should be able to grow it, at least inside the glasshouse, over winter. I think a small period of delicious sloth is called for after all of the deck work to be honest. Don’t know that I could keep that sort of momentum up on a regular basis 😉

      Reply

      • quarteracrelifestyle
        Jan 16, 2014 @ 16:44:14

        I would say not!! I hope you are doing ok with that heat wave, it sounds like it is gearing up to get worse!
        I will look into turmeric, I am thinking it will need a warmer climate than we have here but will see.

      • narf77
        Jan 17, 2014 @ 05:01:44

        I don’t like the sound of that “getting worse”! I hope that’s just the mainland as we are really due some reprieve here in Tassie 😦

  3. quarteracrelifestyle
    Jan 15, 2014 @ 18:01:25

    PS. We had a new cell phone chewed by Syd last month…little horror! Roger has to guess who each message is from now!

    Reply

  4. thecontentedcrafter
    Jan 15, 2014 @ 18:37:24

    Red clover – tea….. what else? Whats it good for? I realise I could google this myself – but ….

    Earl will rule the world one day. And I don’t think three chairs will stop him if he decides to enter.

    That Linne is such a great gal! I have no idea what you are talking about, but it sounds like fun…….

    The deck is lovely and the room idea is great! I knew a woman who used to move her bed onto her verandah every summer, rig a mossie net over it and sleep
    al fresco for six months 🙂

    The garden is looking fab, the heat sounds horrendous, but spare a thought for me who is missing out on summer altogether except for one day last week and today which has been shockingly warm seeing as how yesterday morning it was 8 degrees and I had the heater on!

    I love forgetmenots under trees – they remind me of the bluebell woods in the UK.. Sorry 🙂 The drive is looking pristine!

    Your words to live by are excellent. Doing something is always good. Do you know this verse [commonly attributed to Goethe but actually a compilation of his words and someone else’s – but it makes a beautiful and inspiring mantra]

    ‘The moment one begins to move than destiny also moves…….. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it’

    I know you don’t actually need any encouragement – but, I can give you the whole thing if you want it..

    Reply

    • narf77
      Jan 16, 2014 @ 06:12:14

      Red clover is great stuff and aside from the tea benefits, it is a nitrogen fixer in the soil so I love me my clovers 🙂 (You notice I didn’t splain more about it? That’s because I am lazy and going on a researching bender is good for you and I wouldn’t want to deprive you of something that was good for you 😉 ). If Earl really wanted to get into the room he would just munch his way through those chairs but at least I would get a bit of notice. His munching tends to be loud ;). He pinched one of Kym’s leather shoes last night and was heading quietly off around the side of the deck to eat it when we spotted the little bugger. Got to be on your toes all the time. It is like living with a toddler 😉 I love the idea about sleeping out on the deck al fresco! The rooster under the deck is going to HAVE to go before we think about it though ;). Feel free to borrow our temperatures for a few weeks. We would like a bit of a reprieve. We moved to Tassie because it was supposed to be cold here! I loved forget-me-nots before I moved out here and saw what invasive little sods they are. People who love them don’t have them en mass. When they seed, EVERYTHING gets covered in the seeds and they are like superglue and very difficult to get off your clothes :(. Oh I LOVE that verse! I am going to do something with that verse and put it over my computer desk. What incredibly weighty and wise words to ingest each day (prior to indulging in my frivolities that is 😉 ). I would love the whole thing Pauline. It is literary majesty 🙂

      Reply

  5. cathyandchucky
    Jan 15, 2014 @ 19:27:26

    The house is looking sensational Fronkiii. I would have continued on and painted the brickwork out the front as well. Certainly an improvement. I found Bezially 😀 Say Hi to Kym for me. She’s been putting up some lovely photos of Strahan that Jason and I never quite made it to when we were over years ago with Sabrina.

    Reply

    • narf77
      Jan 16, 2014 @ 06:15:00

      Steve and I haven’t been to Strahan either but Stewart went there and did that same train tour and said it was amazing. By the time I had painted the deck boards the very LAST thing I wanted to do was to paint bricks! The colours we chose do the bricks justice and so they can stay brick colour for the foreseeable future. Bezially says that he doesn’t want to be found. He just wants to stay up in the veggie garden eating grass where it is still nice and green ;). Kym says “Hi” 🙂

      Reply

      • cathyandchucky
        Jan 16, 2014 @ 12:47:47

        Does Bezial eat all that grass, then come inside to throw it all up again like our cats do?

      • narf77
        Jan 16, 2014 @ 13:50:57

        “EWWWW!!!” Nope, he does the gentlemanly (dogly?!) thing and upchucks outside first ;). Maybe your cat’s are trying to redecorate? ;). Hope it isn’t too hot for you over there. It is hot here but with a lovely sea breeze so no complaining today 🙂

      • cathyandchucky
        Jan 16, 2014 @ 14:07:58

        No it’s quite lovely today here. It’s been raining on and off since last night and is sunny but blustery and 21 degrees right now. I’ve been bottling mums satsumas this morning. The black cockies were sitting in the mulberry bush whilst I was picking the fruit this morning eyeing the plums, cheeky little beggars 😀 I’ll make jam from the rest I think. Yum!

      • narf77
        Jan 17, 2014 @ 05:00:43

        🙂 Still stinking hot over here. 35C today apparently! I think Albany is the new Tasmania. Not entirely sure what Tasmania is but I wouldn’t want to have to get used to this! Darned cockies! At least you got there first. The possums ate all of the fruit this year and even the pears that they aren’t overly fond of went down their guzzling gullets. We are just about to start moving the perimeter fence around the house to allow the dogs a bit more room and it is going to encompass the small orchard. Good luck to the possums when those fruit trees belong to Earl and he starts to patrol them regularly! 😉

      • cathyandchucky
        Jan 17, 2014 @ 09:45:10

        Hahaha yes Earl will most definitely earn his keep then Fronkiii. I’m most unimpressed with how the few apricots i had on mums old tree have been attacked by fruit fly. The trap caught gallons of the wretches but they still attacked the dozen fruit that were there 😦 . I’m going to try exclusion bags next season and put them on when the fruit is still small and green.

      • narf77
        Jan 17, 2014 @ 10:49:13

        That’s a really good idea because, much like our possums, they seem to be invincible 😦

  6. thinkingcowgirl
    Jan 15, 2014 @ 22:46:27

    Hi Narf just dropping in to say hi. I really identified with your ETERNITY comment – having renovated a house from scratch I know what it means 🙂 In our case 12 years!! It looks great, the perfect outdoor room as us garden designers like to say hahaha. Hope the heat isn’t too awful it sounds incredible…here it’s rain rain rain, quagmires and floods everywhere.

    Your garden and land looks idyllic, I know how much hard work it takes.

    I might do a blog soon, but I’ve got a bit obsessed with poetry….

    Reply

    • narf77
      Jan 16, 2014 @ 06:20:20

      Glad to see you are still reading my rambles 🙂 Our winter was rain, rain, rain, wattle trees falling down because their roots could no longer be contained in the damp sodden clay and more rain but why oh WHY couldn’t we just have rain every second day eh? 1 day nice and sunny, the next day rain. Just like clockwork. No more watering, no more hassles 😉 (can you tell I am a lazy gardener?). We were talking to a friend who has an acre just around the corner and he said it took him 10 years to knock his block into shape whereby he knows that he is able to deal with the blackberries that emerge thanks to the birds each year. We have a long way to go and probably another 10 years ahead of us but we also have steely determination and I have a complete loathing of blackberries that gets me through. Think Boadicea in full battle gear holding aloft the carcass of her fallen vanquished enemy and that’s what I am like with a blackberry cane. I am bad arse too…I like to do it without gloves. To truly know you have killed your enemy, you need to dance with pain! 😉 Where can I find your poetry? I was considering giving up the blog thing a little while ago. Not because of a lack of words, but more because I was having a bit of a direction crisis that needed sorting. I have sorted it out and can now afford to blog again 🙂

      Reply

  7. teddyandtottie
    Jan 15, 2014 @ 23:13:14

    I love reading your posts, Narf. Serendipity Farm is looking amazing – I absolutely love how you’ve decorated the newly-painted deck with rugs and animals. Beautiful! And everything looks as though it is growing so well and standing up to this horrid heat. I always learn a lot here – and your food fascinates me – it sounds so healthy. So inspired by you growing avocados by seed – really love avocados and must do that myself some day. Earl’s so funny – if a teensy bit naughty – how did he get that one letter off the keyboard? Giggled at your idea of our Northern Hemisphere friends putting a picture of your compost on their fridge! He he! Funny Narf! Have a great week! xoxoxoxox

    Reply

    • narf77
      Jan 16, 2014 @ 06:30:19

      If I am being honest, the animals decorated the rugs with themselves with NO effort from me whatsoever ;). If they had their way, the 20+ feral cats that are breeding exponentially would be lazing all over the deck as well but Earl has something extremely important to say about that…loudly, and often! Steve and I both studied horticulture and I had an inkling that using ex-fish-farm netting would lower the mean temperature inside the garden and would protect the veggies inside. It was only an inkling but it is proving to be a good one as my veggies haven’t gotten burned by our stinking hot ozone deprived sun yet. 35C here is like 45C on the mainland thanks to the intense heat of our sunlight and my veggies think that they are in the tropics apparently! I am a bolshie vegan. The type of vegan that HATES middle men and refuses to pay top dollar for something like tofu that should cost pennies as the raw materials are so cheap. I would rather make my own and customise it. I was a cook in a past life (when I lived in Western Australia) and love to experiment and research new and interesting foods and cooking processes and I am also an avid hunter for different countries unusual foods that I can adapt to my diet. Most Asian countries have been dabbling in meat free cookery for thousands of years so I just jump on the bandwagon and hitch myself along for the proverbial ride 😉 Why reinvent the wheel methinks? I adore avocadoes. I wouldn’t even care if I looked like one if I could indulge myself in them every day. I didn’t think it was at all possible to grow them here but I know of a large tree that is always covered in them in the centre of Launceston where they get killer frosts. We don’t get frosts here and so avodacoes might just be on the menu and why not grow them ourselves? Saves us big moola for buying the trees and we may as well put all of that horticultural “larning” into action and get something from our 4 years of study ;). I have buggery-bollocks idea how that little sod got that key off the keyboard. Steve thinks he may have tried to get up onto the computer desk in order to avail himself of the tasty things that I have there (books, camera) and stepped on the keyboard and flipped a key off with one of his nails and then took advantage of it’s vulnerability to give it a nip but I just think he is magic. My compost is famous I will have you know ma’am. I am sure that there are entire small counties following its growth and collation with avid and most intense interest ;). You have a great week too Mum of Teddy and Tottie. Almost time for them to go back to school…”MARTINI TIME! Shaken…not stirred…with an olive…pulEEZE” 🙂

      Reply

  8. Littlesundog
    Jan 16, 2014 @ 02:00:12

    Fran I love the fresh paint! The colors are pleasing. Aw, and I love Shasta daisies too… I’d love to have a meadow of them. It’s just amazing to me how you have such heat, and here we are in the worst winter weather I can remember in the southern US. I believe I’ll pack my bags and spend a couple of months with you! You can put me to work – I’ll volunteer to walk Earl!! On the flip side, I think I would miss Daisy deer and Spirit… and FD too. LOL

    Reply

    • narf77
      Jan 16, 2014 @ 13:39:19

      Bring everyone down with you…it’s a deal! Daisy would love it here, lots of grass going to waste (the wallabies are too busy eating my plants to bother with it 😉 ) and Earl says “you are ON ma’am!” Imagine a whole meadow of Shasta daisies 🙂 Heaven on a pretty stick :). Cheers for the thumbs up on the paint job. We were a bit worried about the combination of blue and green remembering that rhyme “blue and green should NEVER be seen except with something in between” but then we thought “bollocks! We will do what we like!” It isn’t like we are trying to get Serendipity Farm into the next issue of Better Homes and Gardens ;). I am trying to send some of our summer heat through to you mentally…sorry if it doesn’t work, just know that if I had my druthers I would send you at least half of our 35C so that we could both be in a comfortable temperature range! 😉

      Reply

  9. Chica Andaluza
    Jan 16, 2014 @ 05:21:55

    Melting candles – that is HOT! Thought you had used Earl’s head as a tripod 😉 Steve and I turn the same age at the same time of year – yay for heading disgracefully towards 50. The veggies look great, will you make me that regal Spam dish when I vist (please…not!)? We often have power cuts up our mountain in Spain (no problem, we have firewood for heat/cooking and spring water) so were a bit bemused when folk here in England were really panicking when we had the bad weather and there were powercuts for an hour or so. Mind you, some were without power for days over Christmas, so that can’t have been much fun 😦

    Reply

    • narf77
      Jan 16, 2014 @ 13:42:46

      So what day is your birthday? Steve’s is on the 27th, the day after Australia Day. I keep telling him to become an Aussie citizen but our stupid test (that I can’t pass 😉 ) is putting him off. I mean to say, who the bloody hell knows who our first Prime Minister was?!!!! Who cares! They are all politicians and psychopaths to boot! The Scum ALWAYS rises! 😉 . Being without power over Christmas would have made celebrating an interesting affair. You can tell someone with an ounce of creativity by how they rise to an occasion. “Crackers and pate for Christmas anyone?” ;). I am sure that you would love that spam dish but I am saving it for when the Queen visits. I have to be able to pull something special out of the bag and that’s my trump card so I will have to serve you Stromboli and wine…LOTS of wine 😉

      Reply

      • Chica Andaluza
        Jan 17, 2014 @ 19:23:41

        I look forward to the strombli and wine and to be honest, I’d be rubbish at one of these tests too as I can never remember the borthdays of my own family members, let alone who was prime minister a couple of hundred years back! I’m 21st Jan, so nearly a week before Steve but tell him not to worry, I will keep the alcohol levels topped up between mine and his so that I don’t lose the party spirit 😉

      • narf77
        Jan 18, 2014 @ 03:55:32

        My eldest daughter (and my now departed uncle Doug) both share your birthday 🙂 Madeline was due on Christmas day but most stubbornly refused to be born and they scheduled me in for an inducement on the 21st. Seems like she knew it was an auspicious day :). Have a ball ma’am and forgedabout those prime ministers, I am sure they didn’t give us a lot of consideration 😉 Have the BEST birthday with lots of good food and bubbly stuff to make everything tinted with a rosy halo of fizz and a heady concoction of happiness to hail in both the new year and the day :). The girls and I are celebrating Chinese New Year just after so I will raise a glass of sake to you and will blame you for my bum swelling up after ingesting WAY too many mooncakes and too much mochi ;). Have a ball girl, you deserve it! 🙂

      • Chica Andaluza
        Jan 19, 2014 @ 03:46:35

        Ah how lovely that I share a birthday (albeit years apart) with one of your daughters and dear departed Uncle Doug! It’s a low key one this year but no doubt bubbles will be consumed at some point – thanks for the good wishes 🙂

      • narf77
        Jan 19, 2014 @ 04:35:17

        You can be sure that Madeline will be celebrating with bubbles as well 🙂

  10. rabidlittlehippy
    Jan 16, 2014 @ 12:44:18

    Gods governments are corrupt aye. 😦

    My zukes and punks are beginning to spread and flower, despite their still small size. Time to hit up the nitrogen (powerfeed last night) and hope they try to triffid-up my garden somewhat. I do have 2 itty bitty zukes growing though but I’d take a moster any day. I hide them in spag bol! 😉

    Ha, your locals would curl up and die here then. 38+ yesterday. It must be close to that now. 😦

    A bean is a bean but a P is a great relief. 😉

    Surely the poverty cycle suits no-one. I mean the welfare bill in Tassie must be mindblowing for the government. Surely in the long term educating people to look after themselves MUST be the wisest thing. Teach a man to fish and all that… But then again, what would I know about this stuff that those wonderful politicians wouldn’t? 😉

    I think your deck looks fantabulous! Great job. 🙂

    I think I’m glad the shorts are “longs” and not shorts. The Marilyn Monroe of men is not something I fancy contemplating. 😛

    Choko’s are well named as they are toe boa constrictors of the curcurbit family. 😉 I remember the 20 foot wall of choko vines up behind our chook pen as a child. I also remember the severe choco gluts we used to get every few years, but I remember them fondly. YUM!

    Song in the head now – Think I’m turning Veganese I think I’m turning Veganese I really think so. 😉

    Any particular reason for your prejudice against ostospermum’s? I think they’re both pretty. 🙂

    My taties are also flowering. Verdent fecund growth is lovely but so much better with flowers. 🙂 I didn’t know the flower colour reflected the tuber colour though. I hope my purple spuds flower so I can see what colour they bloom. The tubers are violent violet. 🙂

    Stay cool if you can. xx

    Reply

    • narf77
      Jan 16, 2014 @ 13:49:30

      The local government could care LESS how many of us are un and under employed as the Federal government pays for that, not them so there is no incentive to try to reduce the welfare bill in the slightest. It is all about trying to out posture the other side and both sides want this cesspool of a pulp mill in order to say “we created jobs!” and score political points :(. We always had chokos on one side of the toilet and a passionfruit vine on the other. The toilet was a long drop so I can now see how they both grew AMAZINGLY well 😉 Osteospermums take the piss. They take over but in a sprawling and ugly (and smelly) way. Shasta’s are ordered in their urban sprawl, when you let the Osteospermum’s stay, they get drunk and have fights on your lawn and upset the neighbours ;). Call me a plant snob but I just don’t like them. I reconsidered aggies and now love them but Osteospermums are a plant too far ;). Can you save seed from spud flowers?!!! You learn something every day 🙂 It’s 1.50 and the sea breeze is wafting around dinging the wind chimes and the dogs are both laying prostrate on the deck in the blissful cool and narf7 is just this side of paradise and am about to head off and bury myself in the luxury of reading a good novel. What a lucky LUCKY girl I am! 🙂

      Reply

  11. christiglover
    Jan 17, 2014 @ 04:25:21

    Hey to you two Sooky la-las! lol Serendipity Farm looks absolutely verdant. Your garden makes me swoon. And I LOVE your paint job. In fact, you inspired me to get out my brush yesterday and paint the 2nd bedroom closet. Yellow, to warm it up. The Painting Deva is flitting around the planet. When we get to Hawaii, we’ll have to get the B.O. a “tinnie”. Or at least a fishing rod. Stay cool. And LOVE and HUGS to all of you, including Kymmy and Bruce. Luckies. 🙂

    Reply

    • narf77
      Jan 17, 2014 @ 05:06:34

      The BO will need a Mumbly Cumumbus of his own but the fish that you will catch will be incredibly different (and probably huge) thanks to the warmer waters 🙂 It is going to be SO exciting to live vicariously through your sea-change and you might even spot Dog the Bounty hunter at the supermarket! Can’t wait to read THAT post 😉

      Reply

  12. Spy Garden
    Jan 17, 2014 @ 05:01:36

    Woooo! Looking great and I LOVE the deck! And Smoochie was born in 1965 too! Turns 49 in October.

    Reply

  13. teawithhazel
    Jan 17, 2014 @ 06:56:35

    you two are legends..with your energy you could run for state government and get the place in better shape..x

    Reply

    • narf77
      Jan 17, 2014 @ 10:52:09

      I think the best thing for State government here in Tasmania would be hurling the existing bunch into the Tasman and starting all over again! Cheers for the goodwill Jane, doing the deck in what is turning out to be the hottest summer for years was hard work but so rewarding :). The veggie garden is happy and thriving and I am just about to start succession planting for the first time. Hopefully I learn something positive from the results. Today I learned that pulling weeds when they are titchy is a LOT easier than waiting till they are big 😉

      Reply

  14. foodnstuff
    Jan 17, 2014 @ 15:39:55

    Rabbits love sunchokes too!

    I have the perennial vegetables book. It’s very good. I buy through Fishpond too. Did the pig’s tits book come yet?

    Reply

    • narf77
      Jan 18, 2014 @ 03:50:06

      No rabbits here…too many feral cats 😦 Jess (Rabid) found the book on Ebay for $26 so I am going to go via Ebay this time but Fishpond is going to be my bookshop of choice from now on. Cheaper than The Book Depository by a lot and local :). Just picked up the book before the shop closed yesterday and sent an email about it. Have a wonderful (hopefully cooler) weekend. I will be feet up reading my wonderful new book with a big mug of tea. Cheers for the wonderful gift my friend 🙂

      Reply

  15. cityhippyfarmgirl
    Jan 18, 2014 @ 20:44:15

    How oh how does a pooch get a letter p off of a keyboard in the first place, let alone not moving anything else around it?? I would love to have been a fly on the wall for that one…but I am sorry you lost your p!

    Reply

    • narf77
      Jan 19, 2014 @ 03:06:52

      I have no idea how he did it but when he is sitting in the drivers seat looking intently at the steering wheel and the gear stick now, I am going to get worried! 😉 We ended up getting another keyboard but it would have been less of a bummer if he had chewed up the whole keyboard…a whole new keyboard for the letter “P”? Pffft! 😉

      Reply

  16. Born To Organize
    Jan 20, 2014 @ 03:46:33

    You’re an amazing writer! This was great fun. I found you via the Contented Crafter, and I’m so glad I did.

    I’m fascinating reading about other cultures from a first-person perspective. It is much more intimate and personal then any news story might be.

    Coincidentally, I just blogged last week that my word of the year had found me: serendipity…and here you are.

    Reply

    • narf77
      Jan 20, 2014 @ 03:54:44

      🙂 Hi there! Isn’t Pauline wonderful? 🙂 I love her to bits. Serendipity was entirely right for our lifestyle change when we moved here. We had NO idea that moving here would change our lives like it did and for the better :). Not sure we could be called “cultured” but maybe in the bacterial sense of the word ;). Feel free to wander about the place and take a peek at how we do things here. Most of the time we are thinking on our feet as “The Country” doesn’t come naturally to either of us but we are stubborn middle aged penniless student hippies who hate to give up or in so most days find us trying to fix something for peanuts or finding ways to get what we want for free or at least as cheaply as we can. I come from good solid German stock and my need to simplify and condense makes me adore being organised. I love organised people and admire those that can harness their families into their desire for simplicity and calm, peaceful order. I am married to Mr chaos himself. I call him “Sideways Steven” becuase he used to “Bodge” everything quickly. Since he met me he has learned the value of doing things properly (and the pain that comes when you don’t 😉 ) but he still hasn’t learned how wonderful it is to get to the end of your task and have it all done (i.e. put things away as you use them and arrive at the end of the task “finished” without a mountain of things to clean up) but my lifes mission is to show him…I just have to get him to pay attention ;). Off to check out your blog right now 🙂

      Reply

  17. Joanna
    Jan 21, 2014 @ 08:22:47

    So there I was half way through your post, admiring your very lovely deck/raised verandah and wanting to plop down on that carpet and sort of hang out and then the door bell rang and now it is many hours later and I have returned to read some more and admire photos of exotica (to my northern eyes) of cardamom and crawling things and read about your bleeding arms, eeek! and wonder once more at your extraordinary energy levels, must be that special brand of hot sunshine, she said, as she creaked off back down the stairs in her felted wool slippers and thermal underwear in search of another cuppa! I do like seeing your compost heap and everyone rushing around doing stuff it is quite delightful!

    Reply

    • narf77
      Jan 21, 2014 @ 10:09:48

      I will be in the same boat as you at the end of May. I light Brunhilda and she stays lit till the end of October. I love the cold months (aside from the dogs tracking mud into the house 24/8) and am not a great fan of Summer but I must admit it is lovely to watch things grow :)…aside from the blackberries that is…

      Reply

  18. kellie@foodtoglow
    Jan 22, 2014 @ 07:44:27

    As a fellow 50 year old (well, in a month’s time), the Zenhabits para certainly resonated with me, so thanks for sharing. And lovely as always to hear about the various and sundry goings on as you whip Serendipity Farm into shape – the painted deck looks a huge success, digging the anti-Earl devices, and somewhat jealous of the vast selection of useful plants you seem to have in abundance. I do hope it cools down for all of you Taswegians for sanity, crop and money’s sake. Those ‘energy measures’ sound a right rip off. And lastly cheers for the new ‘veggie’ blog tip off. Off to investigate, forthwith.

    Reply

    • narf77
      Jan 22, 2014 @ 10:46:55

      That veggie blog is wonderful. Right up my alley in fact :). The weather has cooled down incredibly now and at 25C I am wearing a jacket as I tap away here. The vegetable garden is starting to terrify me with it’s desire to grow exponentially every time I shut the door. I swear they are triffids and are just humouring me till they can work out how to turn the tap on themselves and then I am toast!

      Reply

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