Of Loss and Learning

Hi All,

If it hadn’t been for Saturday, today’s post would have amounted to about a sentence and the word “Rotoscoping”. Our latest assessment has us glued to the computer for hours at a time hand drawing over the top of individual video cells. 200 cells to be precise in order to yield 10 seconds (precisely!) of swf file that will give you a tiny window into insanity. Steve has been helping a friend renovate his mother’s house and that means that non-technological narf7 has been left in charge of the technology. A dark day indeed! On the positive side, I have learned a great deal from my solo career, the most important lesson being that of “never EVER let Steve go!” He might leave his clothes scattered all over the bedroom floor…he might drop bits of log on the pathway between the wheelbarrow and the wood basket…he might “half do” just about EVERYTHING but he is a genius when it comes to technology and I, most certainly, am NOT. I spent an entire day twiddling my thumbs because I attempted to open up a video in Adobe Media Encoder and managed somehow to click a button that changed the look of the program so I could no longer follow the video instructions given to us by our lecturer. Helplessness to the max and no amount of temper tantrums would open that little black secret box! I had to wait till Steve got in, tired and filthy from peeling wallpaper, to find that all I had to do was click a single button and that the video that was tantalisingly close to me was just “there” again.

Here’s a Youtube link to hear just how HIDEOUS my voice is. If this goes viral I am going to need therapy! I hand drew all of the artwork in this video. The art is the star, the voice is something to be endured 😦

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_ZzTvgHijE&feature=share

Adobe Flash is fun folks. I love it. There are so many possibilities to be creative but we have hit a section of Flash where fun ceases and hard graft takes over. It’s called Rotoscoping and it has just consumed the last 3 days of our lives. Rotoscoping is where some poor schmuck (that would be we humble middle aged penniless student hippies) has to sit for hours on end individually hand drawing over the top of video still cells. To add to the tension, because Steve has been AWOL he had to work all weekend on his Rotoscoping assessment. We had to first take a short video (maximum 10 seconds) with audio and convert it into a format whereby we could insert it into Adobe Flash. After that we have to render it rotoscoped, then reinsert the audio file and erase the original video cells so that what we are left with is our hand drawn animation with sound. We also have to add a background but that is incidental to the hard work. The notes said that it was a 12 hour task. The notes lied. Steve spent the best part of 36 hours straight Rotoscoping his video and because we only have 1 computer with Adobe on it, I had to wait my turn. I sent a missive off to our lecturer informing him that my rotoscoped video is going to have to wait and why. Here’s hoping he understands and it’s kind of too bad if he doesn’t really 😉

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Steve took this shot with my trusty camera right before it ran out of batteries. It didn’t help that he accidentally shot a video before this but this is just to show you how cold it was out where he was collecting wood this morning. The limbs in the foreground were actually frozen!

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This is on the same property after it warmed up a bit. The grass is frosty and the weather is frigid but when the sun shines you just can’t feel sorry for yourself in Winter 🙂

I would like to make it officially known that I am OVER VIRUSES! Our free AVG appears to have given up the ghost and no longer upgrades. I guess you get what you pay for and they are starting to give you less and less in order to try to force you to buy their service. Steve clicked on a camera information site the other day and got 3 Trojans that took half a day to get rid of. I was eating my breakfast and decided to check out the news for the day and I got 2 Trojans from a decision to read about the new royal baby. AVG has officially worn out Its welcome in our home and I hereby give notice to the hackers, the spammers, the complete and utter gits who feel the need to invade other people’s personal information and generally make the internet a pain in the derrière to navigate that we are trotting off tomorrow to get Kaspersky to lay some smack down on their bottoms! “Bring it on you nasty little reprobates…we will be ready for you!” Just a quick note, we now HAVE Kaspersky locked and loaded onto our trusty PC steed and I have to say, it actually makes our PC run faster! “Bring it on invaders…we have brought in the big guns!”

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A shameless photo of Earl indulging in the demon liquor! I am sorry to say he LOVES IT…

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He might be hung over but he is MOST interested in this interesting package that I received this morning…I am not going to open it till my birthday. Thankyou from the bottom of my little black ducky heart Christi and Keith. If it is what I think it is, I am going to treasure every single spoonful down to the last. I will run my finger around the jar when it has been completely spent of its hallowed contents and I will treasure the jar along with it’s fellow countrymen. I could almost amass a tiny army of them and I love each and every one :). Hugs and love from your twin in Sidmouth and I can’t wait till my birthday breakfast…guess what I am going to have on toast? 🙂

On a sadder note, Pingu is no longer with us :o(. Pingu was Steve’s little hen that he rescued from certain death when he found her almost lifeless as an abandoned chick in the outside chook compound. He used a hairdryer to warm her and then raised her in his music room. She was never entirely normal after that and Earl tried to dispatch her 3 times. She was always living on borrowed time and spent her days scurrying out of the way of the other hens and wandering around near the back gate trying to work out how to get back inside where the warm light was and the free grain. She met a most sad and ironic death at the hands of someone who has been dead for 3 years and therein lies a tale…

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Steve doing his level best to look like Sid Vicious whilst tempting Earl with his favourite fruit “eggs”. Note the view that I have out my window. It’s not hard to get Steve to do the dishes 😉

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Earl will do tricks for eggs. Bezial is sitting nicely in the hope that good behaviour is going to get HIM an egg and Steve is attempting to be a teapot apparently…”Love that hair babe! Who needs hair gel when you can have wallpaper paste instead? ;)”

3 years ago my father died. My father was a conundrum of a man. He was bolshie to the core and proud of it. He was erasable, he was ornery, he was just about every kind of irritating and frustrating at times but his worst quality was his abrogation of responsibility. Dad knew he had cancer when he purchased a young vital Curly haired retriever that he named Milo. He knew that he wasn’t going to last till Milo passed away and just assumed that Steve and I would take Milo on when he died. He told us that we were going to inherit Milo and as the child of a bolshie man, I felt the need to put my foot down and make it known that if we wanted a dog, it was going to be OUR choice of dog and not dad’s! Bezial was purchased, in part, to stem the tide of “Milo”. Dad, being dad, spent his days alternating between indulging Milo and yelling at him. Milo, being the bone headed mutt that he was had NO idea what was expected of him and so ended up confused, neurotic and more than a little irritating. When dad died some “friends” who owed dad a lot of money came out of the woodwork and said that they would take Milo. We thought that it was because they thought it was a way to pay him back for the money that they owed him but we have since found out otherwise.

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Some of the ingredients chosen to make vegan Bibimbap a Korean dish that I LOVE.

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I home dried those large regular mushrooms from the stash that I got ages ago in our mushroom compost. The other mushrooms are cloud ear fungus. They add a delicious crunch and some nutrition to any dish that you add them to

Dad was in the habit of “promising” people things…dropping little hints about how wealthy he was and how he would “see you right” and this resulted in him picking up vultures like ticks. He had a “girlfriend” who evaporated like so much smoke after he died but who was armament (before he died) that he absolutely positively HAD to marry her because she adored the ground that he walked on… he also had some fair weather friends who stuck like glue to the honeypot and who were loath to give up their free source of money. Unfortunately for Milo, the people that took him were the worst of the bunch. We think they thought that dad was going to leave money in his will to take care of Milo. He was locked in an outside garage for 3 years and only let out on very rare occasions. Every time he was let out he would return here and Steve would put a leash on him and take him back. The woman who took him never seemed to have a problem with that until exactly 3 years to the day after dad died and Milo started making repeat appearances on the property within days of each other. Steve took him back and the woman screamed at Steve to “Get off my property!” and “He only goes to your place because you feed him!” and other such crazy talk. Steve was gobsmacked to say the least because every other time she just took Milo back. It would seem that they have suddenly realised that there isn’t any money in Milo. They have also apparently stopped feeding him. He is rake thin and starving. He has been up to our property 7 times in the last month and after Steve’s screaming match with the woman I have been taking him back. I got screamed at too but I told her that I didn’t want to fight with her, dropped Milo off and just walked away from her mid tirade.

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The reconstituted cloud ear fungus along with a plate with tofu, thin sliced veggies, reconstituted regular mushrooms and some bamboo shoots in chilli oil and some fermented tofu. Just a note folks…take it VERY easy if you ever decide to walk on the wild side and try fermented tofu. It’s a most definite “acquired taste”. I think it might be a cold day in hell before I eat it again!

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My daughters have sauces that they purchased from a local Asian supermarket for their bibimbap but I didn’t have any so decided to wing it. I did have gochujang, the Korean chilli sauce that adds delicious spicy piquancy to everything that you use it with and so added ginger, garlic etc. to make my own. Here’s a link to a good recipe for Bibimbap sauce if you would like to make your own…

http://www.food.com/recipe/kochujang-sauce-190227

The last time that I took him back she threatened to call the police on me if I came near her property. Hard to bring “her dog” back when I can’t go near her property and it became more and more obvious that she was attempting to get us to take over responsibility for Milo…to deal with a problem that she no longer wanted. Milo is a lovely dog. He is pure bred, he is handsome, he is now incredibly well behaved and he walks amazingly well on a leash. He would make some family a stunning pet. I walked home from my last altercation with “the fishwife” and called the police myself. The advised me not to take Milo back and to call the ranger. We associated “ranger” with pounds and dogs being put to sleep and we didn’t want to go down that road so we tried to take Milo back as close to her house as we could get without being seen and release him. It didn’t work. Why would he want to go back to being locked in a shed with no food? On Saturday at lunchtime we were working inside when Earl went ballistic. We know Earl’s “Milo alarm” sound and Steve sighed…

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This is a metre long home made sausage. It is also part of my kitchen but the sausage is the star. That tiny little “thing” next to the metre long sausage is Steve’s idea of a bit of fun. He filled the remaining sausage casing with water and kept leaving it around where I would find it…nothing like an adolescents sense of humour to keep the spark in your relationship 😉

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The sausage rolled up in the style of boerwors sausage…note Steve’s “rubber Johnny”…sigh…

We had also been advised over the telephone, by a lawyer to not take Milo back and to see if he would go back himself. We waited, hostage, inside with our dogs for 3 hours while Milo roamed around the property eating old dead wallaby bones out the back and sniffing all over the place. We felt frustrated and upset by the whole situation and suddenly Earl started to bark at the back door and Steve headed over to see what the commotion was all about. The last we saw of Pingu was Milo carrying her off in his mouth down a pathway on the property :o(. We raced outside but he was gone and by the pile of feathers outside she was dead. He had apparently taken another hen as well because there was another pile of feathers in another area so I looked at Steve and said “That’s IT!”. It takes a fair bit to get me really angry folks. I dabble in minor explosions but when my ire is truly up I make Vesuvius look tame. Steve knows better than to say anything and just grabbed his jacket and followed me out the door. We were most of the way up the road (on foot) when our friend’s partner drove up behind us and after we had explained what happened, decided to drive us up to deal with the fishwife. For a while she refused to come out of her house, then she saw our friend and decided that as we had witnesses she wouldn’t go down her usual screaming track and instead headed back inside her house and slammed the door…it was ON!

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Steve cutting the casing from the end of the boerwors style sausage that he is just about to cook for his tea

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After skewering the sausage to ensure it didn’t manage to get out of the oven it ended up being very tasty. We will be experimenting with making different kinds of sausages from now on. They are much cheaper and better quality than regular supermarket or butchers sausages and you can customise them however you like. This variety had Asian flavouring with chilli and mixed herbs and Steve gave them his (fussy) tick of approval 🙂

We headed back home where we detained Milo in our shed. We then called the police and were amazed when they sent someone around! He headed off to the fishwife’s home but strangely and most curiously, there wasn’t anyone in (although we had been there not 10 minutes before 😉 ). He then told us that we were within our rights to contain Milo and that he would phone up the on call ranger to come and get him. Steve and I looked at each other but by now it was too far gone for us to stop Milo being taken to the pound. We know that this is EXACTLY what the fishwife wants. She wants to not only be abrogated of responsibility for Milo, but to make it “our fault” that he gets put down. She didn’t factor in the ranger being an animal lover. We got a call from the ranger at 4pm. He told us that he would pick Milo up the next morning and that we could feed him and keep him in our shed. Steve headed out with a big bowl of dog biscuits that our dogs won’t eat (too fussy) and Milo scoffed them down in 10 seconds flat. It was very sad to see and we don’t blame the poor dog for killing our chooks…he was starving.

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My new kettle. The old one was threatening a melt down and this one has a very thick base and a whistle that is more melodic than manic. I LOVE IT 🙂

We talked to the ranger and filled him in on the situation and the next morning he turned up at 9am at the bottom of the drive to pick him up. Steve and I were waiting with Milo on a lead. He kept looking up at us and licking Steve’s hand. We felt awful. When the ranger arrived he told us that as Milo was micro chipped to dad (the fishwife was stupid enough to get his rego changed but too lazy to fill out forms to have the microchip changed into her name) that officially he didn’t have to contact the fishwife and could go to plan B. He said that after 5 days in the pound that Milo would be sent to the RSPCA for rehousing. That made Steve and I VERY happy. It’s what should have happened 3 years ago but for the greed and avarice of a false friend. To ensure that the fishwife didn’t reclaim Milo (which she is apparently entitled to do) he is going to wave a series of prospective fines at her for allowing her dog to roam unlicensed that should eventuate in her signing Milo over to the ranger rather than torturing the poor dog more than he has already had to endure. We refused our right to complain about Milo killing Pingu and another hen. If we had, he would have been put into a different category. As far as we are concerned, he did it because he was starving and who knows what we would do if put in the same situation?

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I just found this picture that I took of some gochujang, the paste that I use to make Bibimbap sauce. Just thought you might like to see it so that if you want to give this dish a go for yourself you can

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Another Korean paste made from miso and flavoured with garlic, spring onions and sesame seeds. It is really delicious and adds a lot of flavour to healthy Korean dishes

The ranger drove off with Milo and is going to keep us informed of the situation. It turns out that not only is the ranger a very nice, animal loving man, but he comes from Devon in the U.K., his father was from Liverpool (Steve’s home-town) and he lived in Western Australia (MY hometown) for many years. We had a lot in common and that certainly helped to grease the wheels for looking out for Milo’s welfare. I can’t believe that someone would be able to disregard the life of something in order to get money. I know it happens. It happens every day. My father inherited a lot of money from his partner when she died and he managed to fritter a most of it away on fair weather friends and a series of useless causes. It was his right to do whatever he wanted with his wealth but it did nothing towards making his life happy. His money ended up being a milestone around his neck because he didn’t realise that money is a means to an end, not something to be held in high esteem and used to affect power over other people. It always ends up turning around and biting you. It’s easy to say that from a penniless student hippy point of view. We don’t have money and so it is easy to negate its importance. When money buys you fishwife you would be better off without it folks! The huge irony is that despite Earl getting hold of Pingu 3 times and plucking her within an inch of her life, she always managed to get away. It took dad’s dog from the past to take her out. She was officially unscared of dogs thanks to Bezial roaming free with me in the mornings and not bothering the chooks. She would peck at seed and he would sniff her. The last time I saw Pingu she was trotting along next to Milo at the side of Steve’s shed, oblivious to her fate. I hope it was quick :o(. I found some feathers on the pathway down to the front gate. I brought them back with me and put them into my feather stash that I have on the deck. Pingu finally made it posthumously back into the fold.

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A tray of homemade potato wedges…potatoes go hand in hand with winter…note the “sampled” spud over to the left 😉

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Bezial pretending to be fast asleep so I will leave him alone. Winter is a great time for dogs to laze around on rocker recliner chairs next to the fire…it’s a dogs life here folks!

That’s about all I have to share with you today folks. As I mentioned, aside from Saturday, it was a manic week spent scratching out cells on videos and scratching my head trying to work with technology that is more bolshie than I am. Have a great week and see you next week where I might share the 10 second video that Steve took 3 solid days to make.

Bezial kissed a cow and he liked it…

Hi All,

I’m back! I learned a couple of things from my trip to my daughters. When you live inland in a cold climate it gets cold. You can put a lead on a dog but you CAN’T make it walk. Parrots like aniseed “people” sunflower seeds and rats are a whole lot cleverer than I thought. I also learned that Vista was an operating system from hades and we are getting our Vista infested laptop exorsised as soon as we can raise the funds. Aside from gorging itself on as many Windows updates as it could (and we haven’t ever used it online so you can only BEGIN to imagine the gustatory spread that it felt the need to guzzle…sigh…) it took 20 seconds to open a new blank word document, 5 minutes to load a Pinterest board and it kept crashing and telling me that Internet Explorer was using WAY too much memory when it wasn’t. Time to get reformatted and be done with it. What I am trying to tell you is that I got bugger all done in town :o(. I hardly even dipped my toes into the massive tidal flow that is my Pinterest board problem and I didn’t even open my RSS Feed Reader (if a word document takes 20 seconds I could only IMAGINE how long it would take it to load my RSS Feed Reader!). I was forced to twiddle my thumbs and knit. Not bad because in between gnashing my teeth at the laptop refusing to do anything but update itself I managed to almost knit a pair of gauntlets out of that wool that our friend Roxy had spun herself. I haven’t knitted in years and was a bit worried that I wouldn’t remember how but I had obviously done a fair bit of it before I ceased because it came back to me like riding a bike…all natural like. I was smug in my ability to knit myself a pair of gauntlets as I even remembered how to rib! I got to the end of the first gauntlet and suddenly realised that I had NO idea how to cast off!  I am most pathetically going to have to check how to do it online…sigh…

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Earl sniffed out the culprit who was sitting and staying shtum on this clutch of prospective feral cat fodder earlier this week. He got a reward of some raw eggs to reinforce his egg hunting (well…to be honest…chook hunting) abilities. Now if we can just get him to do our studies…

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Check out this glass of my non-dairy kefir. It’s thick like kefir even though the original soymilk (organic and homemade) I made it out of was thin and watery. It is bubbly, fizzy and tastes a lot like yoghurt. I add extra date puree to the mix so that it has something to keep snarfling in the tundra of the fridge and it seems to love it. I have been freezing it to add to smoothie futures and drink it by the glassful. No idea if it is doing me any good but I now have a great probiotic live substitute for dairy yoghurt that doesn’t involve me having to choke down that insipid sweet mush that they sell as “yoghurt” in Australian shops. “Score!” 🙂

I am letting the P.C. download my massive RSS Feed Reader quotient for the weekend. All I can do is hope that all of you are outside making daisy chains and having gorgeous picnics in some green lush wooded areas to bother with such trivialities as posting blog posts and that most of the Northern hemisphere is joining you. Note that I am studiously avoiding checking the feed by pretending that I absolutely positively HAVE to make a start on this blog post for Wednesday ;). I had a lot of time to just “think” while I was house-sitting over the weekend. I didn’t bother using the remotes even though the girls gave me lessons before they headed out. I just didn’t feel like watching anything and as I go to bed so early there wasn’t much point. I took some music in with me on a memory stick and after downloading it to my daughters desktop P.C. (they don’t use it online) I looped it and played it in the background all day. I wrestled with the laptop and spent a lot of time thinking and patting and playing with the dog. It’s amazing how your mind will fill in the blanks if you allow it to :o). My rapidly (galloping) approaching 50th birthday has its sights on my thoughts and even though I might have wanted to completely forgedaboudit and deal with it in good stead, other people think it’s an important enough milestone to celebrate so celebrate narf7 will do!

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Beggars can’t be choosers when they get to 6pm on the day of their post and realise that they forgot to take lots of pictures for their dear constant readers… these are raw potatoes. They turned into some delicious cooked potatoes but Steve ate them before I was able to take a photo

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Here are some raw sausage rolls. You remember those potatoes? Same result…snarfled before I could snap.

While I was away one of our friends who live locally decided to test out his tractor and head up to Serendipity Farm and pull down that pesky tree that has been dangling in another tree precariously. So long as we don’t walk underneath it, it doesn’t appear to hold any sort of danger to us but if we manage to get it down we can cut it up for firewood. Guy turned up with his tractor and after Steve hooked a strong rope around the trunk of the semi-fallen tree Guy set forth in his tractor to pull the tree down…except…the tree had other ideas about that. The tractor lurched forwards and shot a spark plug straight into the air causing both Steve and Guy to hit the deck and the tractor to stop working. After spending the rest of the afternoon “tinkering” (as men do when they really don’t know what they are looking at but feel the need to at least look like they do) they had to admit defeat. We now have a large tractor as garden art up next to our defoliated liquidambar tree. Earl has claimed it by urinating on it at least twice and Bezial has detected possum activity in the immediate vicinity. Hopefully it gets sorted out soon and doesn’t become a permanent fixture on Serendipity Farm but at least it is in an unobtrusive place for now. We are assured that when the sparkplug gets mended it will go like gangbusters but for now it is showing its age and having a nap under a blanket.

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I probably should have warned the more sensitive of you (you are still reading this blog?) that I was going to show you a photo of one of the fork/hooks that Steve added to this sliver of Tasmanian Blackwood. Please be reassured that Steve hasn’t felt the need to revisit his punk past and he would like it to be known by all and sundry that this is NOT a rude fork…it is a “Peace fork”.

As a person who doesn’t naturally gravitate towards food early in the morning I have been struggling with “breakfast” as a concept. I know that it is important to eat breakfast. I know that it starts your metabolism and your day off right. I know that BUT that doesn’t make it any easier for me to eat it. I started off with the grainy porridge types of cereals but they made me feel lethargic and heavy for most of the day till they wore off. I dare say they were sustaining me but I would rather be springy and active than in need of a nap at 10am. My daughters gave me a really good idea when they shared some “Juk” with me when I stayed with them recently. Juk is the Korean version of Congee, a thin gruel made from rice. Ostensibly it’s eaten for breakfast and by the elderly and the sick and tends to be seen as comfort food. I see it as the perfect thing to eat for breakfast, especially the pumpkin variety. I have my eyes on a variety that involves black sesame seed but for now am happy with the pumpkin kind. I throw in black beans to fortify the mix and although it might be somewhat unconventional, it’s filling, tasty and it hits the spot and allows me to keep going through my day without feeling like I am weighed down. Now I just need to work out how to throw lunch into the mix and I am set!

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Yeah…I know…”YUM!” ;). Seriously though, this is delicious. I forgot to put the rice in and just ended up with pumpkin and beans cooked with date syrup and water and it was absolutely delicious.

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This is a 2 litre wine bottle. It smacks of the desperation I find myself in that I should stoop to using this image in my post. I am going to try to segue it by saying that Steve used this in his recent animation but he shelved that animation because it was too hard…(maybe I should have used the coffee cup that he eventually used?)…just know that we did, indeed, drink this entire bottle of wine and it wasn’t bad!

I may or may not be still addicted to Pinterest (spoken like a true addict). You know how people who are addicted to porn magazines tell you that they are reading them for the articles? Well I am learning a whole lot from pins that I have pinned to my boards. Just this morning I found this most interesting blog post about how to make your own recycled newspaper yarn. I love the idea of taking something that you either throw into the recycle bin or use to line a garden bed (or start the fire) and make something you can actually crochet or knit or weave with. The end results are quite beautiful…just call them a study in greyscale. Check out the tutorial here…

http://greenupgrader.com/2138/handspun-recycled-newspaper-yarn/

I don’t think I will be making an all-weather hat any day soon but there are some very interesting practical indoor uses for something made from recycled newspaper yarn, think baskets and bags. I found a tutorial on how to cast off! I can now finish off my first gauntlet and get going on the second one. I also managed to untangle an almighty mess of wool that my youngest daughter had stuffed into a supermarket bag and stashed in her wardrobe. She had no use for it and I asked her if I could have it. It’s that fluffy/fuzzy stuff that is a bugger to knit but I am going to practice making granny squares out of it. You can never have enough bags, shoes or granny squares girls! I really enjoyed picking up a pair of knitting needles again after a long hiatus.

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This is the wool that I inherited from my daughter…supposed to be round the other way I know…the daughter should inherit from the mum BUT she didn’t want it any more and I did so lets just call it a role reversal of fortune. I had to untangle the entire mess. You can see I managed to get 1 ball untangled before taking this image

Aside from being assured by my daughters that I was just showing my age, I am getting a great deal of satisfaction out of making something functional. I have some dark sage green wool (khaki?) that I am going to make Steve a pair of long gauntlets out of to walk the dog with. It’s cold in the mornings and that’s the best time to walk the dogs. We rug up well but fingerless gloves don’t come down far enough to keep the breeze off your wrists. I got the great idea from those lovely mitts that Sarah from thinkingcowgirl sent to me a while ago. I have been tumbling them around in my mind to see if I couldn’t customise them to make them slightly more robust. I didn’t want to wear the mitts that Sarah sent me outdoors as “dirt” lives outdoors. It lurks…it waits and it usually adheres itself to Earl whenever he races out the dog door. It is insidious stuff, dirt… no matter how much I sweep or wipe things over it comes back to do the dusty equivalent of a Mexican Wave to me every time I reveal my Italian soul and start waving my arms around all over the place. What’s a girl to do when she is surrounded by male counterparts who could care less about dirt and its nefarious ways? I have to get canny and surreptitiously pretend not to be sweeping but when you have 2 dogs that lie right in front of the broom (they have obviously made some kind of deal with the dust) it’s difficult to say the least.

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Here I was most pathetically trying to gain your sympathy with the size of the pile of wool that I needed to untangle and how matted it was…did I succeed? I didn’t think so…

Steve has been dabbling in time-lapse photography and had some fun the other day taking some long exposure images of stars. We recently became aware (thanks to one of our fellow students in our course that we have been chatting online with) that Tassie is being bathed in the gorgeousness of the Aurora Australis most nights. We live on the wrong side of the hill to see it but I am sure I saw it out of the corner of my eye when I was waiting to pick up my daughters on Sunday night. The sky was too red for a winter’s day and after checking a Facebook page that we were directed to that hosts lots of photos of the spectacular I realised that my right eye might just have seen something that the rest of me hasn’t. Steve also did a bit of light painting with his torch down in the graveyard. I can only hope that Frank and Adrian weren’t standing on their deck at the time to see him waving his torch all over the place in the graveyard and aiming at headstones. Grave robbing isn’t viewed with the same understanding these days as it once was! 😉

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Yeah…a few balls done here and only a small pile of temper tantrum wool that was too knotted to be allowed to fraternise with the rest. This wool might be a pain to knit but good luck spotting the joins…swings and roundabouts folks! 😉

When we were walking this morning we walked past a heard of young steer (male cows castrated and raised for beef) that immediately took an interest in Bezial. It might have been because he was small and black like they are, it might have been because he was on a lead but it’s more likely because every few metres he was stopping to eat grass. Both of our dogs love to eat grass and if we were to allow them cart blanch in the mornings we would be out for hours while they munched their way through most of the road verge in Sidmouth. We aren’t that patient and Steve was in the process of dragging Bezial away from a particularly green and lush patch of grass when they were both approached by a most determined young steer on the other side of the fence. He put his head down and stared at Bezial who completely ignored him. Earl jumped up in the air, did a mid-air pirouette and had to be taken to the other side of the road in disgrace (the story of Earls life) but the steer kept staring at Bezial and so Steve decided to allow Bezial to meet the steer. I just need to point out here that where Earl is completely untrustworthy when it comes to any form of animal aside from human beings, Bezial is the most trustworthy hound on earth. He accompanies me to the hen house in the mornings and watches excitedly as I feed them. He follows Pingu and sniffs her nether regions with glee because she is “his”. They bonded when she lived in Steve’s music room as a small chick who had only just escaped death and she is the only chook who isn’t afraid of him. He walks through the throng of feral cats and completely ignores them. The only time he chases a chook is when I urge him to run over and stop one of the feral roosters having his wicked way with one of Yins girls and Bezial obliges by pelting over and scaring it off while the hen ruffles her feathers indignantly.

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My natural desire to organise things has been outed :(. After untangling the balls from each other I lined them up before untangling the balls from themselves. Talk about double handling! 😉

Bezial can be trusted…Earl can’t. To anyone who has watched the U.K. television program “Black Books” it is the same situation as when Bernard and Manny were left in control of Bernard’s friends wine cellar and drank the very expensive bottle of wine that he was going to give to the Pope. You don’t make the mistake of forgetting which dog you allow out the gate without a collar and lead on… you only make that mistake once. The steer seemed to really want to get close to check Bezial out and by this time, Bezial was interested in the big black fuzzy thing directly in front of him. They both had a really good sniff of each other and then the steer licked Bezial’s muzzle and Bezial licked the steer back. I wish we had a camera because it was a really excellent photo…”American Staffordshire Terrier kisses cow” He might never live it down. He has been telling Earl that he was just tenderising it but Earl doesn’t believe him for a moment! We all know that Bezial is a cow lover now 😉

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Woo-hoo! I did it!!! 🙂 Now I have some fluffy/fuzzy wool to use for “something” in the future. By the way Bethany “no you CAN’T have it back now!” 😉

I have a nice mug of mint and ginger tea sitting in front of me. I have a huge pot of homemade Soup Dragon (Steve) made soup on Brunhilda bubbling away and tonight it contains lots of barley. I have the beginnings of a cold slithering around in my bones and 2 enormous bags of oranges that are my way of hedging my bets. Steve and I have been beavering away at our studies and have managed to create 2 passable animations that hopefully have our lecturer patting us on the head and saying “good students” and tomorrow we animate windmills…well…we “attempt” to animate windmills. If you live anywhere in the Southern Hemisphere you are most probably going to be able to hear us yelling tomorrow. Just ignore us; we stop after a while, like the roosters ;). Have a great rest of your week folks. Here in Tassie it’s finally raining! Now that it is, it’s grey and wet and muddy and I suddenly remember why people get S.A.D. in winter. Enjoy your sunshine you Northerners and cheers for finally sending the rain our way :o)

Slagathor the Viking dog

Hi All,

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Slagathor the Viking dog, Master and slayer of all he surveys and servant to none

If you want the full doganese version of it, it is “Slagathor the Viking dog, Master and slayer of all he surveys and servant to none”. That’s what he would have us believe his name is. His name is “Earl” to us. I was dragging down the West Tamar Highway this morning behind a most determined dog who didn’t walk yesterday because Steve went to town to do the shopping. He spent most of yesterday running around barking at both real and imaginary creatures and he is most definitely one of “those dogs” that needs a decent walk every day.  Bezial was limping around today so he got a day off and as a new convert to walking every day, I volunteered to walk Earl. I think a lot when I walk alone. Earl isn’t much of a conversationalist and prefers to sniff and pee so I allow my mind to wander where it will. My mind tends to wander all over the place and I got to thinking about what Earl would call himself if he was given the choice. I immediately remembered a cartoon by Mr Gary Larson, kind of the cartoon crossover between the animal world and everything else, a most entertaining maestro of the scientific pun and lord of the intellectual laugh.

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PLEASE don’t sue me Mr Larson…I am a geek like you!…no really…I am!

It’s Tuesday, we both passed our first Adobe Flash unit and we don’t have anything to do today (study wise) because we have both completed everything that we can (that our lecturer will release to us…he is more of a control freak than I am!) in advance so today belongs to us. Steve wants to use the P.C. today because he is going to try to sort out our unused laptop so that I can use it while I am at my daughters house this weekend. Off again you say? Yup :o). It turns out my ex-husband is coming to Melbourne to celebrate his 50th with the first batch of kids. Not a bad option since they are all adults and most of them can pay their way. I got roped in to look after Qi and the house while the girls are away and will be absent without leave again. The problems come when you realise that the girls don’t have “television” as we know it in their home. They don’t actually watch free to air or pay TV! They spend too much time online and watching more than enough old movies to open their own dvd store from their home. They have dvd’s everywhere and lots of old dvd’s on a well stocked hard-drive. The problems come from narf7 and her bolshie desire to keep that part of her (well stocked) brain that could be dedicated to learning how to operate technology free for things that actually interest her. This weekend I am going to HAVE to learn how to use that little black box of theirs that contains the magic treasure. I am going to have to (gulp…) learn to use the remote control!

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Steve has been messing around watching YouTube tutorials about how to make infra red images without an infra red camera. He recently purchased an infra red filter but has very kindly allowed me to fill the rest of this post with some of his creations using Photoshop.

Not only that, but I have only just recovered and regrouped from the last visit to the girls in the RSS Feed Reader context. I don’t want to spend another 2 weeks trying to regain control. Qi doesn’t like to walk without Bethany (my youngest daughter) and so walking the dog is out of the equation. What’s a narf to do in an empty house with no telly and a slothful dog? Bring her own…THAT’S what! Steve is the technological brains in our house. Not only is he the brains trust, but he is actively able to update his brains trust, he is interested in how things work, he is the most stubborn mule born since mules were given that moniker AND he enjoys it. What more perfect partner for a bolshie narf7 who could care less about remote controls, television and most technology. I use technology to deliver me “stuff” that I want. Information…knowledge…like number 5 from last centuries wonderful movie (when they knew how to make wonderful movies 😉 ) “Short Circuit” narf7 “needs input!” Steve came up with a great idea to keep me from resorting to forcing the dog out on a skateboard that involves our unused laptop (almost pristine condition…can anyone say “vista operating system?” 😉 ), my exponentially increasing RSS Feed Reader that I have named Audrey 2 (“FEED ME NARF7”!) and narf7… spending my days reading blogs, pinning and occasionally running around the house to activate the dog.

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I really love this little image. Its a study in greyscale and it looks like a charcoal drawing

All of this involves me having a laptop, at my daughters, that will work. Not as easy as it might seem because that laptop has to plug into their internet service AND work. Our laptop is even more bolshie than I am. At least you can occasionally get me to change my mind through explanations and guilt (guilt works the best…) but our laptop is a product of its operating system and Vista plain and outright SUCKED folks. We bought the laptop for me to write a book. Steve has delusions that I have talent. I am under no such delusions and know that everything that comes from the tapping fingers of narf7 comes from the myriad collection of motley muses that cohabit my brain. I KNOW that the moment I sat down to attempt to write a book, a short novella, a short story, an ESSAY those self-same muses would go shtum. They are like our laptop…bolshie to the core, revolutionaries every one and prone to fits of incredible temper followed by months of stilted silence. All I can say is that it is lucky that there are so many of them because at least 10 of them are sulking at any given time. I wouldn’t want to upset the delicate balance and equilibrium that seems to have settled into my brain between muses output and narf7 input and so that bolshie laptop remains somewhat pristine and it even has a mouse…

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You can create some awesome images by simply inverting an image but this one took a lot more work. Doesn’t it look like a snowy vista with a river in the middle? It’s actually a warmish day in a park and those ripples on the “water” are actually melted tar

I won’t be here when you read this. Sounds dramatic doesn’t it! I will be (hopefully) reading blogs and pinning like a maniac (imagine a crack addict in a room full of free crack…sad but true) and organising my RSS Feed Reader, my Pinterest boards (now that I know how to use them) and the laptop. Consider narf7 a pig in muck this weekend :o). I might have to leave the dog behind to go for a walk but I will bring her back treats and will spoil her rotten. My daughters will be in Melbourne and I will be stuffing their dog full of meat and bones…MEAT AND BONES! I won’t be allowed to look after Qi again for a while because I corrupt her. I am like a dog virus. The girls just get her thinking that she is a small human (she eats what they eat) and suddenly “grandma” bursts onto the scene loaded up with raw meat and bones and all hell breaks loose. It won’t be that bad…I can’t actually get the raw meat in time but there might be bones…

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This looks like some sort of alien planet.

I am typing this while a free PDF downloads. I love finding free recipe PDF’s and this one had 92 pages of wonderful looking gluten free recipes. I also love finding new blogs to subscribe to and read. While I am at my daughters I will be flensing my RSS Feed Reader. I am just about to download the new version of FeedDemon 4.5 that bypasses the need to synchronise with Google Reader. By the time you read this Google Reader will be staggering around on its last legs. It will have 1 solitary day to live and if you are still reading your feeds through Google Reader, it might be a good time to run…yes RUN folks…off and sort out a new reader because as of Monday July 1st, Google Reader shall be no more. I am luxuriating in the thought that come Monday I won’t have to wince when I open my RSS Feed Reader, indeed I will be positively glowing. I foresee a July where all of the blogs that have stopped sending out feeds, where blogs that have stopped giving good content and where blogs that aren’t pulling their weight have been eliminated from narf7’s RSS Feed Reader…”I have a dream!” folks…and it’s positively blissful :o)

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The Tamar River on steroids or crack

Bored of reading about RSS Feed Readers yet? I will give you a break now and will change tack. If you wanted to get that free Gluten Free PDF by the way feel free to go here and get it…

http://www.enjoylifefoods.com/ebook/

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The same image but treated in a different way. It’s really amazing what you can do in Photoshop

Have you ever had one of those “DUH!” moments when you have been pondering a problem and suddenly the answer rolls into your addled brain and it really IS like a light switch goes on…well I have had 2 of them in a week. My first consisted of me fretting about the state of a woollen round rug that we keep in front of the fire. Steve and I watched a television program about how wool is an amazing product (yeah…I know…scintillating…) and in the program we learned that wool is actually fire retardant…it doesn’t burn folks! They showed a mock up bedroom inside a shipping container that they filled with woollen bedding/toys/clothes etc. and one full of manmade fibres and the manmade fibre bedroom went up in flames and the woollen bedroom didn’t. Simple as that. What better to put in front of Brunhilda (who is prone to hissy fits when you toss wood into her) to stop the sparks than an old (inherited) woollen rug? The problem was that Steve is less than careful about banging off bark, dirt and anything else that wood contains onto this rug and as I am the sweeping freak (at least 3 times a day, we don’t use the vacuum cleaner on a regular basis) he could care less about bits on the floor…someone else makes them “go away”…so I had a problem with a fringe around the edge of the rug constantly trapping and filling up with woody crumby bits that I had to extract by picking up and shaking the rug…no easy sweepy fix to that one. We had another fringed oval woollen rug (also inherited) near the back door to try to catch the dirt and for Bezial to bask in the sun’s rays. It too managed to hold and trap dirt, dust, dog hairs and woody crumbs. I was perplexed to say the least!

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The green of the trees has been turned to pink in this image and they now look like they are flowering.

The rugs are quite old and worn and the fringes were in various stages of decomposition which also added to my angst. While I was standing next to Brunhilda I suddenly had that “DOH!” moment…if the fringe was making me twitch so much, why didn’t I just cut it off! 15 minutes later the fringes were gone, the rugs looks neat, they don’t catch bits anymore and narf7 is a happy camper. A very simple fix that required me to actually think about the problem and see it for what it was. I needed to simplify the problem and stop complaining about it in my head before I could actually deal with it. I just had another “DOH!” moment at 4.30am precisely. I was working through my RSS Feed Reader that I have just updated. You have a single solitary day to update your feed reader folks before Google Reader goes defunct on your derrière (if you are using Google Reader that is…). I thought that I was protected because I downloaded FeedDemon 4.1 but it turns out the owner of FeedDemon has decided to call it quits but before he goes out with a Googly bang, he has most magnanimously decided to allow FeedDemon to go on in Perpetua without him and he has even more magnanimously deigned to give us the Pro version that up until now you had to pay for and now it’s free! Kudos sir! If you want to take advantage of this new FeedDemon 4.5 version that is entirely independent of Google Reader (which 4.1 wasn’t!) feel free to read my last post which is just a repost of Mr Bradbury’s own blog post and gives a link to the download for FeedDemon 4.5

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This is a motion blur image but given the Steve treatment its a study in pink and aqua. Steve just said “It’s Barbies Bridge” 😉

Now we can get back to the reason for “DOH!”2…I have an exponentially increasing amount of non-dairy kefir that is threatening to blow up our fridge. It is one of those products that I need to think more about as to how I am going to use it. I can’t heat it or its beneficial probiotic bacteria and fungi will croak. I don’t want that! I want the benefits of this wondrous mix and so I have been trying to think of ways to integrate it into my diet. It is freezing cold here in Tassie at the moment (no surprise there folks, we just hit the winter equinox and we are a hop, skip and a jump away from Antarctica…) so my spring and summer green smoothies are no longer as tantalising as they were when it was warm to hot. I was pinning a recipe for some wonderful blueberry, mango and coconut ice pops when suddenly I thought “why don’t I freeze my non-dairy kefir and make ice blocks!” That way I can store them in a freezer bag in our larger freeze and they can be used in smoothies when it gets warmer and by then I will have a huge supply of them that I can keep going…what a great idea!

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This is one of my favourite images. I just really love the colour combinations. Who wouldn’t want a lavender tree fern?

I tend to be one of those people that hang onto a problem and work at it from all sides. Steve is exactly the same. I am sending this post from my daughters thanks to Steve being clever (and most stubborn) clogs who has managed to get our bolshie laptop to toe the line and do what it is told. It was no mean feat folks, this plastic mound of diodes and plugs is plain nasty. Not only has he forced it to do his bidding but he has stuffed it full of my personal shortcuts and all kinds of programs that I can use to while away the hours till my daughters get back on Sunday after flying to Melbourne and visiting with their brother and his Texan sweetie Kelsey who live there and their father who is just about to turn 50. If you ever find this blog Robert and you read this post…Happy Birthday and no hard feelings :o) and yes…I have LOTS of wrinkles ;). I will be clearing out my Pinterest Boards and RSS Feed Reader and will most likely be using the Wii fit (the dog refuses to walk with me…) and playing Zelda and Animal Crossing till my eyes are as crossed as the Animals are. Steve waited till I went to bed the other night after spending the whole day trying to get the laptop to do his bidding. He knew that I would tease him about his stubborn refusal to leave the stupid thing alone and after I went to bed he snuck back to the P.C. (after telling me he was done with it for the night) and sorted it out. Once Steve gets hold of a problem he never lets go till it is solved. Hopefully he is like that about us…I am most definitely a “problem” that isn’t going away any day soon 😉

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This image is a little disconcerting. Bezial looks like he is an elongated sausage dog but really he is sitting down and most of what you can see behind him is shadow. He is telling us all to “Move along…nothing more to see here folks”…I guess that’s Bezial’s way of saying “see ya later!” He never was a very convivial dog 😉

I am in the process of organising photos and images for this post. It’s early Wednesday morning and I am just about to wrap this post up for the day. We already have a pilfered Larson image (someone else pilfered it first so does that make it alright?!) and a doctored image of Slagathor the Viking Dog. Now I just need to find a lot more. I know that my daughters have a prehistoric version of Photoshop on their desktop P.C. that I should be able to resize images with so I might head out and pound the pavement a bit when I get there on Friday and see what I can take some pictures of. No doubt there will be pictures of Qi in various stages of dog-eyes when I have finally tired of chasing her around the house with one of her toys and there might be more photos of the contents of the girls cupboards. I am fascinated by the amount of weird and wonderful ingredients that they have managed to amass! I am amazed and envious! I might take a few photos of the girls rat and Madeline’s Indian Ringneck parrot Taylor. Taylor hates EVERONE AND EVERYTHING. The rat doesn’t like me much either so I might have to feed him via a chopstick through the bars of his cage but he will get fed girls! I might just have to get creative about it ;). Ok, that’s it…that’s all for today folks. Its Saturday evening, I have no doubt been pinning and cleaning out RSS Feed Readers all day and I have probably scheduled this post to post itself. Have a fantastic weekend and think of narf7 categorising her brains out and loving every single minute of it…why oh WHY didn’t I become a librarian…I would have been in career choice heaven! 😉

My addiction to Pinterest made me forget to title my post! I need an intervention!!!

Hi All,

Does anyone out there know where my day just went? I think I saw it hurtling through the time space continuum around about lunch time but it seems to have taken a wrong turn on its straight through trip to Albuquerque and gotten lost. I find myself at 4.56am stressing about how little time I have left in yesterday…sigh…Why are we so busy? Well firstly, as a new convert to Pinterestism I have needs you know! I must be allowed to pin at least seventy-sixty-two new pages to my own page before I can surface and be functional in my day. I have also discovered http://www.tastespotting.com/ and   http://foodgawker.com/ as backups to Pinterest should my interest ever wane (we addicts like to have stashes of our addiction scattered around in hidden places…) and I most shamefully have to admit that I just noticed a pin that Steve accidentally pinned to our favourites bar that I needed to remove and put in its correct box (anus…thy name is narf7 😉 ) and I have been off Pinteresting when I should have been here typing to you my dear constant readers! Are you shocked? I am suitably ashamed but I can’t promise that if my eye doesn’t spy another incorrectly pinned linkie in our favourites bar (not that I am scanning it as I type this folks…Surely I wouldn’t do that…) that I am going to be carried away by the deliciousness of it all and the freeness and the fact that it doesn’t cram my PC full of my need to collect…

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These first two images were taken on a particularly foggy morning just on sunrise. I didn’t use any kind of filter or special effects and what you see is what I saw through the lens. I wanted to show you just how different a space of 10 minutes can render a landscape…This shot was taken at 7.10

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And this amazing shot was taken 10 minutes later. We certainly live in a wonderful place 🙂

Sure I might lose it all if some super power realises that the true power in the world lies not in its monetary value but in its social media and grabs hold of the reigns and rides that cloud (that technology seems hell bent to stuff itself onto) like Monkey from Monkey Magic, then all of this “free stuff” and this “convenience of the cloud” and this “don’t have to pay as much for your software” is going to come back to bite us all BIGTIME isn’t it folks? All of the “read it online on your e-reader” and “store it in the cloud” and “no C.D. required, just a “small” monthly fee” and “buy your movies from us and we will deliver them to you at the click of a button” etc. is going to suddenly show us that we have been right royally gipped! We no longer own much of anything. You know that wonderful moment where you slip that C.D. that you paid a heinous amount of money for into the P.C. and wait a decade till it loads up some program that allows you to make monkeys fly out of your Aunt Matilda’s hat? (I would be talking about Photoshop here folks…)Well the next Adobe download will be entirely online folks. CS6 will be the very last C.D. download you get. Why? Because aside from saving the Adobe empire a squillion-billion dollars in having to produce C.D.’s (which they will say they are being “Green” in doing…can anyone say G.R.E.E.N.W.A.S.H. with me slowly?) and have them sit on shelves in physical shops and paying all of those workers to produce and sell them (so how many thousands of jobs are going to be lost here folks?), the most important thing about clouds is that no-one can copy them. No-one can illegally download them and no-one can “steal” what Adobe thrashed out of its poor intellects who are chained up in some basement somewhere being fed RedBull to keep them awake and producing new software till they die of a diabetic coma and are rapidly replaced with another one… and once they get everything that they produce stuffed into a fort Knox of a cloud somewhere they will be able to charge you whatever they like to access their products because you won’t be able to get them “on sale” or “illegally” or any other way than via the fluffy cloud of corporate greed.

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This shot was taken slightly later on but Steve has admittedly mucked about a little bit with this shot in Photoshop but not very much (he misted up the sides to make you focus on the middle ground of the shot). How different they all look! I would like to experiment one day and set up the cameras on tripods and just take images every 10 minutes for the whole day! Even a time rich penniless student hippy gets bored sometimes folks 😉

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A gratuitous bickie shot…here you see custard creams, duskies and the dusky with the white cream is a “Minstrel” 😉

Am I sounding bolshie? “Moi?” Well guess what folks; it’s happening all around us. Books stores are going out of business because so many of us have been green washed into thinking that our lazy desire to read e-books online while we multitask and work, and stuffing things into online cloud sharing and freeing up our P.C. for …for…can anyone tell me what we are freeing up our P.C. for?! Games are all downloaded and played online now. Pretty soon you won’t “own” anything folks. It will all be online and we will all be at the mercy of our internet connection should we want to take advantage of our games, our software, our everything. How long till we don’t need physical money and it is only accessed through some cloud somewhere? Isn’t anyone else out there alarmed by this like I am? It’s sneaky and insidious and its happening all over the place and we all seem totally content to be led by the nose and give up all of our physical privileges…well not THIS little black duck! No e-readers and online PlayStation games for me! I can lose my food porn in an instant because I have books with glorious food porn in them that Pinterest has lured me away from…but “Come the revolution” I still HAVE them. That’s the thing…what do we actually “have” if we stuff it all into a cloud? Where is our money going? Are we going to truly turn into that virtual society that we are told is so progressive and wonderful?

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While I am ranting I won’t distract you too much…I want you to think about the rant NOT the photos ;). Here are some ground covers that I planted in a vain attempt to cover the ground and keep some of the moisture in. Hopefully they will spread in spring and will do just that.

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No idea what this little groundcover is but I bought it for $2 from the plant stand at the end of the road and it seems to love it here.

Maybe my bolshiness comes from being a penniless student hippy who knows the value of every dollar that slithers through her fingers. Maybe because I am almost officially “old” and I know the value of frugality and have seen it in my parents and grandparents. Maybe I just have the time to see how insidious this whole “Cloud” thing really is? Who knows, all I know is that I am incredibly suspicious of ANYTHING that has to be delivered and meted out by a third party…one of those vulturous “Middle Men” who really have no worth at all to anyone but who seem to be the makers of the most profit. Adobe are middle men. They create a market to sell what someone else dreamed up and they most certainly don’t want ANYONE else cashing in on their parade. Microsoft, Apple, you name it folks, these big companies not only want ALL the profits (and anything else they can get into the deal) but they want to sew up the internet for profit. No more free downloads, everything will be filtered through clouds and “small monthly payments” that amount to MASSIVE profits for these behemoth businesses that are hell bent on owning all intellectual property and making more money than I could hope to count for the rest of my life.

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Now you are all clucking and tutting and right royally pissed about how the big corporations are all ripping us off willy-nilly (as you SHOULD be!) you can have some more interesting images. This is Steve…this is Steve in his new Russian fluffy hat…why he felt the need to put these sunglasses on beats me. You would have to ask Steve and Steve is an enigma.

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Here you can see the ear flaps have been pinned up! “Magic”! That means that this hat is perfect for all of Steve (the enigma’s) winter needs. Steve has 9 earrings and cold weather chills gold and your ears at the same time (I know, I have 7 earrings)…you really do need a hat that will cover them when you are out walking the dogs or you might get chilblains on more than just your knuckles, toes and fingers…but when you are inside and your ears are safe…what’s a man to do? Pin up the ear flaps that’s what folks! How exciting is this blog? I am SURE you are riveted to your seats… 😉

That’s my 1150 word rant so far folks…now I can get to what narf7 and the-long-suffering-Stevie-boy have been up to since Tuesday. Our crazy American hippy friend wants us to drink rainwater. He also wants us to put bicarbonate soda in said rain water but that AINT gonna happen sir! He had a spare 600 litre rainwater tank complete with an inline water filter that he had laying around and asked us if we would like an extended loan of it till we could afford one of our own. We jumped at the chance! Steve has been up on the roof clearing out gutters, installing gutter guard, cutting holes in the gutter to accommodate a new plastic downpipe leading directly to the tank and watching him is exhausting! Today he will be heading out to take possession of a couple of trailer loads of spent horse bedding full of horse manure and perfect to add to the suite of organisms that we hope to populate our new enclosed veggie garden in. We will need an incredible amount of “soil” in this garden and are fully intending on taking advantage of any free offers of leaves, grass clippings, chopped up branches etc. to minimise the cost of having to build these gardens.

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This is an Azalea. This Azalea is one of many that are all out in flower at the moment on Serendipity Farm

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Here’s another one with a bee 🙂

We have to cut up another huge length of ex-fish-farm netting and remove all of the nylon rope from it. That usually takes us about a day with both of us working on it. We also need to unload that trailer load of gorgeous dry wood that Steve collected last Sunday and store it. Our amazing friend Jenny just phoned and asked us how our veggie garden is going and aside from offering to come and help us put the nets up around the perimeter of the garden (now surrounded by firmly concreted in poles) and told us that we can get another load of wood from her 50 acre property…”I love you Jen!”. Wood is something that we just can’t afford at the moment. It’s not cheap folks and as our chief source of heating our home, our hot water and cooking our food right through the cold winter months we most gratefully take advantage of any and all offers of free wood. Our friend Guy has told us we can get more wood from his mum’s property (Cheers Kaye…we love you too!) so hopefully that will get us through this winter and we have more time to plan for our next winter.

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These Azaleas were some of several bushes that we hacked back to stumps and “killed”. Apparently Azaleas are a whole lot hardier than one might think folks! We treated these shrubs horrifically and the only reason that they are growing back today is that we were too lazy to attempt to dig out the stumps and were going to just let them rot and pull them out when they did! It just goes to show you that nature is incredibly tenacious when she wants to be.

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This little Nandina domestica ‘nana’ (dwarf sacred bamboo) is putting on a magnificent show at the moment. It thrives in terrible soil in full sun and I would recommend these nandina’s along with their full sized brethren (the green leaves next to this one) for anyone wanting a very hardy plant.

We have 2 trees (one that fell down and is still entangled in a tree) that are dead in our side garden and another 2 that are on the way to dead. They are both eucalyptus obliqua and these eucalypts might have been Tassie endemics when Tasmania was a far wetter and colder place than it is today but call it global warming or call it what you like, conditions have changed and no longer favour Eucalyptus obliqua and favour the more hardy endemic Eucalyptus viminalis. We have lots of fungus ridden obliquas all in stages of decline and all LARGE trees. We have enough viminalis that we are not going to suddenly look like the grasslands of the Serengeti when the obliquas all die, but we need to do something about the dying trees because they are all close to the house. The tree that fell reminded us of our precarious existence and how expensive it would be to have to mend our roof. Guy is going to bring his tractor around and help us remove these trees. Once we fell them they can be cut up for next year’s firewood as well so there will be SOME benefit to my poor squished garden…

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More Azaleas and a stack of potted orchids that we have yet to figure out where they are going to live on a more permanent basis

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This is the inline water filter that is now on our loaner rainwater tank. We have had a tiny bit of rain but not enough to fill our tank, let alone reach the mark where we can actually turn on the tap and get “water” but hopefully some-day soon we will be drinking tea and coffee made with delicious filtered rainwater courtesy of our crazy old Californian hippy mate Michael 🙂

We spent yesterday with a new addiction. As part of our course, we are learning to use Adobe Flash. I never much thought about Flash as anything but something to make spam with and to flash up “CASINO!” in pop-ups but apparently it’s actually a worthwhile program and you can do all sorts of things with it. Steve and I finished our coursework for this terms unit early so aside from the hard slog we have been doing all week, we have had time to have a peek at what we are going to be attempting next term. So far this course has been incredible fun. We have learned an enormous amount about photography, design, and media and how to so “stuff” that we just never thought about before. It was always “someone else” did it, but now…”we” do it :o). It is very liberating to know how to do things yourself and Steve and I have noticed that our lecturer takes about a week into the new term before he launches a pretty severe workload of assessments onto us all. We like to know a bit about what we are studying and so we have a bit of time over the next 2 weeks to familiarise ourselves with Flash and its intricacies.

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It’s funny how 6 trailer loads of horse manure can be reduced to a flat and exponentially decreasing pile by a small but most determined band of beaked and feathered Somalian pirates isn’t it?

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Here you see what is left of our tomato and capsicum beds since we opened up the garden to the chooks and possums. Curiously, the chooks are the only ones taking advantage of this windfall…it would seem that I am not the only Bolshie one living on Serendipity Farm and that vegetables and their foliage taste SO much better when you steal them with impunity…

In the past week we have taught ourselves to “Tween”. We can take an image (or in our case a badly drawn stick figure) and we can make it move across the page. We got bored of making images and text move around the page and so we messed about and made them do pirouettes etc. It still wasn’t all that enthralling and so we peeked a bit ahead and discovered rotoscope. Does anyone else but me remember that Swedish band a-ha and their truly original video for their song “Take on me”? The technique used to produce that video is called Rotoscoping. What it takes is a video and someone with too much time on their hands who is willing to take individual frames of said video and hand draw over the top of the frames with a brush tool for frame, after frame, after frame…you get the picture (literally 😉 ). Steve and I are both working on a video that we borrowed from YouTube. Mine is an episode of that wonderful children’s show with the little plasticine man “Morph”. I have drawn over 100 frames and have managed to get through the title phase! I have 2400 to go…why the heck would I do that? Because the end results are amazing, that’s why folks! If you haven’t seen the song I was taking about, here is a YouTube link. Please note, the advertisement at the front is urging you to join the Australian armed forces…it’s up to you if you choose to take advantage of this wonderful career offer…I, myself, have chosen to opt out 😉

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djV11Xbc914

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The chickens don’t seem all that keen on chilli leaves and have left the chilli plants relatively intact. I will be pulling them out soon but for now they are still producing flowers and tiny baby chilli’s!

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See that brown hay scattered all over the ground? That is a direct result of Somalian pirate activity. They aren’t even scared of Bezial any more! The only one that they are afraid of is Earl…he is something akin to The Dread Pirate Roberts and isn’t looking to step down ANY day soon! Even the feral cats ignore Bezial now…he wants to be known now as “The Ghost Who Walks…” The Phantom Dog 😉

Steve has decided to take a video that we shot of Earl on his birthday and Rotoscope it. Earl was given a whole bag of inflated balloons to explode and the resulting video is a great one to rotoscope because of both the highly expressive and animated Earl, and the inflated balloons that are there one minute and gone the next. My Pinterest addiction has run to putting a Pinterest bar on the blog. Under each post now you can click to add the post to your Pinterest account or just blatantly steal any of the images you like. Feel free…I discovered that people have been doing it for months! It’s strangely both flattering and creepy to find images of yourself, your dogs and your garden produce someplace where you didn’t put them but if you blog and you put those images out there you have to be willing to have someone else take a shine to them and pinch them. I know I do, so why would anyone else out there be any different? Pinch with impunity folks, just don’t try to sell anything using them, you might be disappointed by the sales results at the end of the month 😉

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The last of the liquidambar leaves just before they tumbled from the wonderful grey stems and rendered Serendipity Farm officially on winter time. At least the possums won’t bother with it till spring now!

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You would be forgiven for thinking that this was something terrifying out of The Moth-man prophesy but it isn’t. It’s WORSE! This…is a brush tailed possum. Scourge of narf7 and gardeners everywhere and prime target for Earl’s nocturnal angst…(his days are filled with rage against the feral machine). This one had a lucky escape the other night after running up the deck with Earl close on his tail…Do those eyes looks scared? NO! He was screaming his anger at Earl from a safe distance and doing the possum equivalent of what the French taunters were doing in the Holy Grail…

I have forged on and baked my not inconsiderable weights worth of custard cream biscuits and Duskies, a peculiar New Zealand chocolate version of them that are apparently quite delicious…I sandwiched the custard creams with vanilla buttercream and the Duskies with a rich chocolate buttercream and because we are not racist on Serendipity Farm I sandwiched some of the extra Duskies with vanilla buttercream and called them “Minstrels”. I know they are delicious because Steve told me so and the biscuit barrel is officially stuffed to the back gills. I have been experimenting with my morning green smoothies and aside from using my non-dairy kefir; I have started adding cooked beans to my smoothies. I can get pretty experimental when needs must and I wanted to make sure I was getting plenty of fibre, protein and nutrients and adding beans gives more body, a creamy texture and if you freeze the cooked beans (I cook mine from dry) they double as a great thickener for your smoothie. I also add ice cubes and my smoothies take me right through the day. Angela at Canned Time made some gorgeous vegan chocolate chip scones with a vanilla glaze by sheer accident the other day. Angela used beans in her scone recipe and I have to tell you that they certainly give a lot of moisture, body and texture to a recipe. Here’s Angela’s wonderful recipe if you would like to try it…

http://canned-time.com/chocolate-chip-scones-with-vanilla-cream-glaze/

Angela is my go-to girl for crazy out of the ballpark vegan recipes and she is incredibly prolific and inventive. This is the cutting edge of recipe development and I love to hover around the creative people who think like this and put their thought into action “What if I took a can of coconut cream, a can of cannellini beans and some date paste, pureed them together and made ice-cream out of them?” Not sure, but you can bet Angela has at least attempted something pretty close to it at one time or other ;).

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Finally, with permission from Christi one of my most dear constant readers and a true friend in Olalla Washington (see her wonderful blog here… http://farmlet.wordpress.com/) I am going to share some of her very talented husband “The B.O’s” wonderful drawings. Earl heard a possum earlier in the week. He raced outside and I was treated from my vista on the couch to a vision of a brush-tailed possum streaking down the deck with a most determined Am staff rapidly gaining ground on him. The possum made it to scream and steal another day but I mentioned in my last post that I might like to ask The B.O. to draw the debacle to preserve it in posterity. He did! What an amazing man :). Here is Earl, a most wonderful rendition especially the little pink nose. Earl looks like he just dispatched something…most fitting!

Hoochi Coo narf7 and the great possum chace of old Serendipity Farm

Now I am SURE I told The B.O. via Christi that this was a scene of Earl chasing a possum and me sitting on the couch watching…I think we might have had a case of Chinese Whispers go on and sure enough…Earl IS chasing (and making good ground on) that possum BUT I appear to be attempting to sell my wares in an Amsterdam hookers window! Now I don’t know what Christi has told you about me B.O. but it’s not true! I may have lost a little weight lately but a “Hoochie Coochie Woman” I am not! ;). If we ever get so poor that we have to sell someone’s body you can bet it will be Steve out in Princes Square strutting his stuff and not THIS little black duck! (We would make more money 😉 )

Our new fully enclosed veggie garden is one step closer to reality with Steve and I hauling a massive roll of ex fish farm netting down from where we store it to under the deck. That’s the first stage in us cutting the net ready for installation. We do things in stages here and as it rained all night we are very glad that we did it yesterday. That stuff weighs a tonne when it is wet! We will be walking the dogs in Deviot today in a vain attempt to get some quality photos to share with you here AND satisfy the dogs desire to pee on other dog’s pee that they didn’t pee on yesterday. Steve and I will be fighting for the computer as my Pinterest addiction knows no bounds and his desire to rotoscope Earl is equally as intense. I planted out a whole bag of Jerusalem artichokes someplace where I don’t care if they go nuts so watch this space to see narf7 go nuts at some time in the future ;). This weekend promises to be a tangle of energetic and mental activity on Serendipity Farm and it’s great to be back outside after almost a full term of beavering away in front of our computer screens. At least this term we will have a head start on what we need to know. See you Wednesday folks and enjoy your weekends to the max :o)