Where narf contemplates her naval in the dark and learns to live like Earl

Hi All,

I have been press ganged into assisting Stevie-boy in building the new perimeter fence for our house block. The old one just skimmed the house area and didn’t give our dogs much room to exercise and we promised ourselves that this year we would give them somewhere to run, to sniff, to pee and to lie on the cool earth when our long dry summer starts to heat up at the end of February. We finally managed to massage the funds out of the poor long suffering moth eaten sock under the bed. I am considering crowd funding to put it into therapy, and so we find ourselves with the materials, and the time, to facilitate change. (It’s now Wednesday and we facilitated a whole LOT of change and as promised, here is the video of the dogs being released into their larger compound…)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oGo9fDV2v_g

 

Buckwheat porridge made with pureed pumpkin and steamed apple. It tastes like rockmelon. Pinterest is keeping me company ;)

Buckwheat porridge made with pureed pumpkin and steamed apple. It tastes like rockmelon. Pinterest is keeping me company 😉

I bought these orchids for $3 a pot at a stall outside the polling booth at the last elections. They were the best thing that happened that day ;)

I bought these orchids for $3 a pot at a stall outside the polling booth at the last elections. They were the best thing that happened that day 😉

Steve's bonsai maple and conifer. The maple was taken from under the big Japanese maple at the front steps back when we didn't live here. It was a tiny seedling and it is now a lovely bonsai. This is it's new seasons growth.

Steve’s bonsai maple and conifer. The maple was taken from under the big Japanese maple at the front steps back when we didn’t live here. It was a tiny seedling and it is now a lovely bonsai. This is it’s new seasons growth.

Another one of Steve's bonsai's just starting to bud up

Another one of Steve’s bonsai’s just starting to bud up

The main problem with us facilitating change is that in order to do it, we need to work together. As my dear constant readers are well aware, Stevie-boy and I are a study in opposite. I am not just taking doing things a bit differently, I am talking men are from Mars women are from Venus opposite. Some of the thought processes (if you could call random impulsive racing from one thing to another) that Stevie-boy calls “plans” make my head hurt. I just don’t get how he functions, let alone manages to get through to the end of the day and actually achieve anything. This brings me to my early morning musing on Friday. Last Friday at precisely 4.56am that actually took me away from my RSS Feed blogs to pen this before I forgot…

 

The new Ballerina Apple that our friend bought us for inside Sanctuary where the possums can no longer enter

The new Ballerina Apple that our friend bought us for inside Sanctuary where the possums can no longer enter

Here it is, still in it's bag along with raspberries and other things that our friend gave us ready to be planted out tomorrow, now that we have finally finished the fence.

Here it is, still in it’s bag along with raspberries and other things that our friend gave us ready to be planted out tomorrow, now that we have finally finished the fence.

Note how "fecund" Sanctuary is, the predominate species inside Sanctuary is Tropaeolum majus also known as nasturtiums

Note how “fecund” Sanctuary is, the predominate species inside Sanctuary is Tropaeolum majus also known as nasturtiums

Strawberry and yellow raspberry futures in pots waiting to be planted out

Strawberry and yellow raspberry futures in pots waiting to be planted out

 

Why do I need to have a start, middle and finish to everything that I do? I am not talking plans here, I am talking everything. I like to complete things. I don’t like strings being left untied, “i’s” and “t’s” not being dotted and crossed respectively and anything left undone. I like to finish a task and know that it is, to my best ability, finished. Yesterday was a point in case. I like to work methodically through a task until it is done. I like to make sure that I complete everything

 

Look how green and happy the little citrus that our friend gave us are, now that they are planted inside Sanctuary and out of the pots that they had been living in. No doubt the horse manure that went into the hole with them might have a little bit to do with their happy state

Look how green and happy the little citrus that our friend gave us are, now that they are planted inside Sanctuary and out of the pots that they had been living in. No doubt the horse manure that went into the hole with them might have a little bit to do with their happy state

These potatoes got an early start. I mustn't have managed to find them when I was digging out potatoes last year and these all grew.

These potatoes got an early start. I mustn’t have managed to find them when I was digging out potatoes last year and these all grew.

More spuds and happy, healthy looking yacon that are growing alongside them. This year they won't get out competed by pumpkins!

More spuds and happy, healthy looking yacon that are growing alongside them. This year they won’t get out competed by pumpkins!

You see I am well aware of which direction we are pointing. I know that if we keep having to come back and fix things up, or finish things off, that we are stalling our lives. I like to work through things because I like to start new things and know that the old things are finished and done. That way I can keep pointing forwards and don’t have to go backwards, sideways and upside down in order to live my life. I was thinking, as I shuffled Bezial back to bed for the umpteenth time, about how we live our lives planning, shuffling ourselves, our children, our time, our money from place to place to satisfy some part of something for most of our lives. We seem to make incredibly big jigsaw puzzles out of our lives in order to satisfy something that we just can’t quite put our finger on. I have a deep and unerring desire to simplify my life to the core. Call it the German in me, but I find the essence of processes incredibly delicious. Way down inside all of those processes is/was an idea, a simple idea that started that ball rolling. It may have been a desire to shore up the future, to prevent starvation, to make sure that your children lived past 4 but way back when all of these processes that we assume are vital to our survival, came into being, there was a terrifically valid reason for them. I doubt that most of us even know why we do a lot of what we do. If we stopped and asked ourselves why we ferry our kids to 14 different sporting, dancing, fencing, ape taming events we would see that it isn’t so much to do with our children as to do with keeping up with the Jones’s.

 

One of our two pear trees completely full of flowers. Looks like a good year for pomes

One of our two pear trees completely full of flowers. Looks like a good year for pomes

We left off last week with us having concreted in the poles ready for the fence to be started. Here you can see Steve installing the fence rails

We left off last week with us having concreted in the poles ready for the fence to be started. Here you can see Steve installing the fence rails

Another shot showing you more railing after Steve installed it

Another shot showing you more railing after Steve installed it

Over the other side of the enclosure that we were fencing, this is the view from the upper right hand fence boundary.

Over the other side of the enclosure that we were fencing, this is the view from the upper right hand fence boundary.

Why do we blindly follow processes without question? Why do we perform, by rote, much of what we do in our day as if our lives depend on it? If we step back and take a really good look at the processes the make up our lives, that we feel are taking over our lives, that rob us of time, money, “life” itself are they really important and valid or are they just habits that we and society in general have developed to keep the tracks of society well-greased and operating? I sat in the dark today. I won’t tell you where I was sitting when I contemplated this thought, I will leave it up to your imagination, but in keeping with paring down my life and my processes I thought way WAY back to the essence of “me”. Early morning narf is a whole lot more philosophical than mid-morning narf and don’t even talk to early evening narf. She doesn’t make much sense. Early morning narf, after that first cup of tea is a most interesting place to inhabit. I enjoy her ability to think and the still quiet time to do so (until I have to shepherd Bezial back to bed for the umpteenth time… sigh…). It all boils down to what you believe the universe “is” I guess. I read about people putting their thoughts, their wishes and their ideas out into the universe and allowing the universe to sort it all out for them. That’s a most comforting vision but being someone who is somewhat limited by science to a degree, I keep seeing rocks and meteors and stars where these people see possibilities. I can’t quite see how rocks and meteors and gasses can make my dreams come true. I need concrete things and so after a long LONG time pondering the long dark teatime of the soul I arrived at God. We all arrive back at God/a creator at some time in our lives even if we refuse to admit it. We all question ourselves and our beliefs and why the heck we are actually “here”. Why are “we” alive when so many other people aren’t? We could put it all down to coincidence, to a random pattern of thought or to simple science but I can’t help feeling like this is all too ordered, too organised, too united to be a result of chaos. Therefore I arrived back at the simple essence of God.

 

We had partially installed the fencing wire by this stage but not completely as is apparent by the chook being on the inside (and Earl not being attached to her rear end ;) )

We had partially installed the fencing wire by this stage but not completely as is apparent by the chook being on the inside (and Earl not being attached to her rear end 😉 )

The old palings are being re-used on the front part of the fence for economies sake and because they look good. Here you can see the new (neat) fence with the existing old fence in situ (keeping the dogs near the house while we built the bigger fence)

The old palings are being re-used on the front part of the fence for economies sake and because they look good. Here you can see the new (neat) fence with the existing old fence in situ (keeping the dogs near the house while we built the bigger fence)

I stood back a bit to take this shot so that you could see the new and old fence together

I stood back a bit to take this shot so that you could see the new and old fence together. Note we hadn’t finished the new fence in this photo

You can choose to believe in whatever you want to believe in. I choose a creator who gave us purpose, reason and who said “I will provide you with everything that you need…just ask me”. Now I may or may not have just lost half of my reading audience but I would like to think that most of you are as pragmatic as I am and are going to humour old narf7 by reading on. This ISN’T a bible bash folks. I haven’t read much of that most esteemed tome; I can’t make head or tail of most of it but the bits about “love each other” make a lot of sense to me and “share things with each other” as well. What makes sense to me is a clean pure reason for everything. A nice, tidy ends tucked in explanation for it all. We are born, we do stuff then we die. I am no expert in all of the peripherals. I have a sneaking suspicion that I don’t have to be. I think I am here to “live”. Maybe we are all one great big science experiment that has been going on for millennia. God’s ant farm. Who knows why we are here or to what purpose we are set but all I know is that we ARE here and that each day is another precious chance to wake up and smell the roses.

 

This is what happens when you procrastinate about moving your ladder away from a tree that you KNEW was about to lose a limb on a windy day...

This is what happens when you procrastinate about moving your ladder away from a tree that you KNEW was about to lose a limb on a windy day…

This lovely, easy to dig, yellow clay filled hole was bliss for Steve to dig today and is only possible because it is built into the house cut away section rather than in the topsoil. This hole was for the new gate and front fence paling section. The final part of the fence.

This lovely, easy to dig, yellow clay filled hole was bliss for Steve to dig today and is only possible because it is built into the house cut away section rather than in the topsoil. This hole was for the new gate and front fence paling section. The final part of the fence.

Steve communing with the recycled fence paling. Artists need to communicate with their muses. Steve is calling on his woody muses to allow him to "feel" the fence flowing from inside him...

Steve communing with the recycled fence paling. Artists need to communicate with their muses. Steve is calling on his woody muses to allow him to “feel” the fence flowing from inside him…

Sanding the cut edges of the new (recycled) paling fence. If you look closely, you can see a beady eye that was most interested in getting hold of that sander...

Sanding the cut edges of the new (recycled) paling fence. If you look closely, you can see a beady eye that was most interested in getting hold of that sander…

I decided that I am going to live life like Earl today. I don’t mean eat the couch, pee on everything and make Bezial’s life hell, I am going to try as hard as I can to stop thinking about other things, things that may or may not happen in the future, things that I could be doing and that I need to do etc. I am going to live for today and try to make the most of everything that happens today. I am going to allow my God to take care of the hard stuff. The things that I have been agonising over, the world that won’t be healed no matter how hard I wish it was, my day to day living needs when our finances are tenuous bordering on terrifying. How liberating! I don’t have to plan, to shuffle, to drive, to prepare…just look at what is in front of me at any given moment and do my best to do it well. I wonder if that isn’t the secret to happiness. Working through what has been set immediately in front of you to your best ability and tying up the ends, dotting the “i’s” and crossing all of the “t’s” and wrapping it all up in gold tissue paper with a nice big rainbow coloured bow and saying “DONE”. That way, when we get to whenever it is that our direction is constantly pointing in, and we have nothing left to give, we will know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that we did all that life handed us and we made the absolute most of every opportunity that rocked up instead of missing those precious things that get washed over by all of those societal processes that would mow down much of what makes life special, meaningful and precious.

 

Almost finished, putting the final touches on and making sure that we put a heavy gauge lock on the gate so that Earl can't escape out into the (unsuspecting) wide blue yonder...

Almost finished, putting the final touches on and making sure that we put a heavy gauge lock on the gate so that Earl can’t escape out into the (unsuspecting) wide blue yonder…

Steve even managed to drive the car into the gate and back it back out again without knocking the fence down (I really hope he doesn't expect me to repeat that success ;) )

Steve even managed to drive the car into the gate and back it back out again without knocking the fence down (I really hope he doesn’t expect me to repeat that success 😉 )

Steve whipper snipping the enclosure and you can see the fence that we built today (and some of the rear fence in the background)

Steve whipper snipping the enclosure and you can see the fence that we built today (and some of the rear fence in the background)

Reasonably tidy and no longer fully enclosed area around the house with no dogs to be seen. They are too busy frolicking around in the garden :)

Reasonably tidy and no longer fully enclosed area around the house with no dogs to be seen. They are too busy frolicking around in the garden 🙂

A much reduced potted plant section (soon to be moved to an empty area in Sanctuary where they can remain till we find space for them in the garden) and a very happy man who has officially finished fencing for 2014 :)

A much reduced potted plant section (soon to be moved to an empty area in Sanctuary where they can remain till we find space for them in the garden) and a very happy man who has officially finished fencing for 2014 🙂

5.21 And the sermon for today is over. If you would like to pass the collection hat please do so. Take what you put into the collection hat and go buy yourself a good cup of beverage of your choice, look up at the sky, look at the native vegetation wherever you are, listen to the birds singing and just thank whatever it is that you believe in for this precious and most amazing life 🙂

 

Life is a mystery and so is this. Steve recently took this shot for his photography site. They were having a "guess what this is?" competition and no-one guessed what Steve's photo was. Can you?

Life is a mystery and so is this. Steve recently took this shot for his photography site. They were having a “guess what this is?” competition and no-one guessed what Steve’s photo was. Can you?

 

 

Happiness is found in simple pleasures

Hi All,

 

It’s 4.30am on Sunday morning. Its 3C outside apparently but inside Chez Serendipity it’s lovely and warm thanks to our amazing woodstove Brunhilda. We have our winter routine down pat now. We dry logs out in her ovens overnight to make hot toasty logs for her gustatory delight the next day. Even if the wood is a little green in places, an overnight toasting renders them perfect for burning. I was just putting a few extra logs on the fire and enjoying the ambiance that a wood fire brings to your home. The small delighted tongues of golden flame that caress the logs as you place them into the firebox, that pure rush of warmth that carries encoded memory for we humans…we have fire, at least one of our happy boxes is ticked.

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If any day was designed to challenge potential happiness it was today. take a look at those grey clouds! We are probably going to get a lot more rain and even thunder storms tonight. WOOT says me because Steve hooked up the pipe system he designed to harness the water from the main roof so now our tank is going to fill to the max 🙂

I was about to close the firebox door and head back to my RSS Feed Reader when I decided to take another few moments to enjoy that blissful warmth and the sense of contentment that was radiating through me and infusing me with happiness. What a simple thing? A fire + a narf = happiness. Put me in the middle of January and give me the same equation and the results would be significantly different however right here…right now…I am happy. What is it that makes us happy? We are led to believe that happiness is something to be aspired to…fleeting…unattainable and if you are selling a product its in your best interest to maintain that line to ensure that your prospective customers keep coming back after the elusive bluebird of happiness but is it really that hard to be happy?

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Do you get the feeling, by their expressions,  that a certain two rear seated creatures just worked out that they weren’t going to get much of a walk in the city today?

I don’t think so. I lead a pretty simple life. I don’t have a lot of “stuff” and I don’t WANT a lot of stuff. What I desire tends to be based more on prospective opportunities to learn things rather than the acquisition of anything in particular. I won’t tell a fib, I DO want a Nautilus wind turbine for our home but that’s not for it’s own sake, that’s to shore up our lifestyle. I guess what I am trying to say is that the older I get, the happier I get. Weird really because society would have me believe that I should be miserable…after all I am getting wrinkles (quell horror!) I am not as youthful as I used to be, the slow decline into oblivion is starting to set in so surely I should be racing out and buying any, and everything that will halt this decline or at least whack an “in stasis” sign on my countenance?

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The white pipe that you see running along the side of the bricks is Stevie-boys ingenious way to harness water from the main, much larger, main part of our roof. We will now have enough area to collect enough water to fill our tank 🙂

I was only saying to Steve yesterday that I have never been more genuinely content and happy in my life as I am right now. I think the older I get the more all of those concepts, those ideas and ideals that I have been formulating and fulminating all of my life are coming home to roost and are finally starting to make sense. About time you guys…I was starting to wonder why I had crammed you into my head for so long…you were taking up precious space that math could have been taking or knowing how to weld or how long is a piece of string…but I digress (my specialty)… I was sitting on a small 2 seater couch that we had purchased from a charity shop specifically for Bezial to lay on next to Brunhilda. My portion of the couch seat was significantly smaller than the other cushion because Earl ate half of it in spite. Note HIS chair hasn’t been eaten in the slightest…there is a lesson here ;). I had a glass of late harvest Riesling (the best of the Rieslings in my opinion…) and was bathing in Brunhilda’s wafting warmth and all of these factors combined made me deeply and incredibly happy.

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Earl dancing with me to “Fantastic Baby” a most wonderful Korean song by my daughters favourite Korean band “Big Bang” that Steve and I are both addicted to. Heres a linkie to it on Youtube if you would like to hear it…Earl says “Fantastic Baby” 😉 (I just realised that I look like half of Santa in this photo…did you know that there are only 161 days 07 hours 14 minutes and 45 seconds left to Christmas in Australia…)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AAbokV76tkU

I started to think about “happiness” as something that isn’t elusive, but is perhaps overlooked because our gaze is elsewhere. Maybe happiness is right here all the time? Maybe we just don’t see or experience it because we are too busy waiting for our lottery win, our superannuation payout, our ship to come in and we miss it in our planning for how happy we are going to be when we lose 40kg, when we meet “that man/woman” we get the perfect job…it might have been the late harvest Riesling but I had one of those little moments in life where you just KNOW something profound has gone through your head. Life is full of small moments. We live in those moments. If we are focussing on our lives and living them to the fullest one moment at a time then we have that secret to happiness right there within our grasp. Happiness is being content with who you are and where you are. Happiness is accepting that your life might not be picture perfect and it might be SO far short of the “idea’’ but it’s YOUR life and you are making the best of it…THAT, my dear constant readers is true happiness. You can’t buy it in a jar, it doesn’t come in a golden ring or a Faberge egg or a lottery winning, it comes from inside YOU and we all have that most elusive of abilities built into us, we can be entirely responsible for our own contentment and happiness

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Earl studying design. He has managed to acquire a ruler and has been predominately influenced by dada and that series of light lines on the table in front of him. He contemplated chewing off Bezial’s ear so that he could be like Van Gough but then decided that it was all too much like hard work and went off to clean his private parts…

I can hear people saying “well how can I be happy eh? I have a mortgage…I have to go to work! It’s alright for old narf, she landed on her feet when her dad left her a mortgage free home and she can choose to live how she likes…” true, I was left an incredible gift by my dad. We don’t need a lot of money to live on as we are pretty easily pleased. We don’t aspire to anything aside from the odd Nautilus or new guitar and we know how to save up for years if needs be for these kinds of things. We are money poor, time rich and I do have the time to indulge myself in thought, in taking life at a slower pace than most people and in being able to stop and smell the roses to the max if I feel like it (unless I have been procrastinating all week about my studies and end up having to spend a solid day knocking them out…no time for rose sniffing THEN! 😉 ).

fruitshop Fran

One of my earlier designs created in Illustrator. This is a logo for a fruit shop that we had to create. I initially had a white interior but there were problems with it so I went with the other colour for dragon fruit (Pitaya) which is pink. Hopefully you have been up for a while prior to having to look at this…I appologise deeply if you are now blind.

A persons circumstances can certainly affect how they look at life but I need to point out that some of the poorest people in the world are also the happiest. The less stuff you have, the less going on in your life, the more you live close to nature and adhering to its cycles the happier you are. How many of us have a job these days where we can say “I created something today”. We humans have a deep seated need to create, to learn, to go hunting for new ideas. Our brain cells can only grow if we apply ourselves to learn something entirely new. We have lost track of our true needs in the quest for societal needs and in the process we forgot where to find happiness. It’s in the metaphorical equivalent of a shoebox under the bed folks. It’s a little seed planted inside all of us. The problem is that seed isn’t going to grow unless we nurture it. We need to pay attention to it, water it, let it out and sniff around a bit (happiness is a puppy?!) interact with happiness…take part. Enjoy those simple things and immerse yourself in those simple pleasures. Give yourself permission to live life right now. Don’t put it off till your boat comes in because what if it doesn’t and you have spent ALL of this time waiting for something that never comes? You could be enjoying those simple little moments in life that are just waiting for you to notice them right here…right now.

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Sorry it’s not a great image but you get my drift and if you click on the image you can see it bigger. We had to create a flyer in InDesign for an International Melbourne Design yearly event. I drew the light-bulb in illustrator and am proud of how it turned out as I used gradients and shading and an outer glow. This is the first page and here is the second page…

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This is my second page of the flyer project (to be seen as the rear portion of the flyer). I created a word cloud in a program called “Image Chef” where you can create all sorts of word clouds, use your own photos in all kinds of situations and you can make Meme’s that you can use on Facebook, Pinterest etc. I found a mobile phone template, used “design” type words and put a photo that we were required to use in our project as the screen inside the word cloud mobile. I chose to use a most interesting sculpture that stands (somewhere) in Melbourne to finish off my flyer

I haven’t been philosophical for a while but the combination of a good late harvest Riesling and that blissful warmth coupled with a loving dog cuddled up to me, the promise of more Riesling, a meal that I didn’t have to cook and the deep sense of contentment that flowed through me gave me the idea that maybe we all need to be reminded that simple happiness’s are the bomb. Let yourself take the time to pat your dog and really enjoy that moment…give yourself a little treat, whatever takes your fancy and don’t feel guilty about it (unless it involves something nefarious then FEEL GUILTY!), hug your partner, your pet, a tree…hugging is good for your soul. All of those simple moments, that first beverage of the day, knowing that you paid a bill before it was due, seeing your kids getting along, knowing that you have enough money to pay for your groceries next week, simple little moments of pleasure but truly where happiness is to be found 🙂

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The second part of our Mid Year assessment was to create a post card of “Australian colours”. We were given a lot of freedom in this part to create our own ideas using whatever we wanted. I wanted to recreate a sort of Aussie landscape idea using the colours of Australia. I started with the blue of the sea ranging through white beach sand, darker soil, the red soil of middle Australia and the predominate greens of our wide brown land. I then added a couple of blues for the sky and a dark night sky as well as a sun to make it more obvious that this was a landscape. I decided to leave the black lines in between the coloured layers. If it is good enough for Pro Hart, it’s good enough for Narf! 😉

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We had to produce a front and back of the post card and this is the back of my card. The text is just blurb that we had to include as part of the assessment. I wanted to add interest to the back of the card and so I washed out the colours on the front and removed the stroke/lines around the colours. The whole idea of a post card is to get someone who is visiting Australia to buy it and send it home. I wanted mine to be VERY bright as that’s part of the battle of the post cards won…”Pick me…PICK ME!” 😉

Well guess who forgot it was Wednesday all over again. Stevie-boy and I headed into town with the hounds this morning to take our car in to be mended (water hose leak) and for Steve to check out a swapsie with another guitar collector of one of his guitars. You may recall the lesson learned last week about scammers, well this man was most definitely not a scammer and invited Steve to his house to test drive the prospective swap and Steve is now very happy with his trade. When we got back we threw ourselves into working on our mid year assessment as it is due on Monday and as Steve is home this week we have been able to spend the hours needed to do this task. Not easy when you both need the same PC to work on but we are learning to share and should graduate to “sharing without having temper tantrums” some time mid next year. These things can’t be hurried you know…

tasmap Fran

I am quite proud of this map. I had to trace around a map of Tasmania and then add a few roads and town names. That was what I had to do for my assignment but narf being narf didn’t want to stop there…I decided to take an existing map of soil types and run with it. Sorry its a small image but because there is so much detail in it, it is HUGE. Steve and I are really starting to enjoy ourselves with Illustrator. It is a wonderful program full of possibilities. The only limit is your imagination

We had some news for Earl while we were in the city. Earl’s favourite tree that he loves to urinate on every single day fell down. He is both sad to lose a good old friend and incredibly happy because he, single handedly, slayed a mighty tree using only the power of his urine. Time to get this post onto the printing presses. I may have to cheat a bit and use some photos that I “prepared earlier” as all of the amazing photos that I was going to take today for you didn’t eventuate because it has rained solid all day BUT in saying that, the rain is now a reason to tap-dance because Steve’s new system is up and collecting a large amount of water from our roof now. Happy days!  Have a lovely and prosperous week folks. Remember to look for your own happiness in those small moments…those simple pleasures, and take happiness where you find it. Don’t wait for magic carpets and lottery winnings and you will soon be happier than you have ever been 🙂

Where there’s muck, there’s brass

Hi All,

Have you ever listened to roosters till the novelty wears off? I do it on a daily basis. I have come to the conclusion that roosters are just like bagpipes. The similarities are actually quite startling. They are both bags that when inflated and squeezed (the pipes are man squeezed, the roosters are self-motivated…) they make a noise. The “noise” that emits from them could, initially, by some romantic person living 3 blocks away, be seen as entertaining for approximately 5 minutes before the novelty wears off and the repeated inhales and exhales punctuated by a raucous droning sound become unbearable. I have the dubious luxury of being situated directly above where our 2 feral roosters roost at night. We know that they roost there because aside from the loud inhales and exhales that can start anywhere from 1am onwards, we have discovered a large pile of nitrogenous fertiliser on a tall pile of firewood under the deck that coincides with the rough approximation about 2 metres above said pile of fertiliser that narf7 sits above as she taps away here to her dear constant readers…that would be you!

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Here we have the two feral roosters that I talk about in this post. I have officially named them “Ralph” and “Hewie”. Their female counterpart who tends to hide a lot has been named “Elvira”. That interesting metal thing to the left of Ralph (the dark rooster with the rose comb) is my prospective still/rocket stove. I have yet to work out how to make it but for now, prospective is good enough for me!

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This is not a rooster. It is a duck. You would think that a duck wouldn’t have the bagpipe lungs of a rooster but you would be wrong. A duck can use her lungs to great advantage when she wants to and this one wants to every 10 minutes.

Roosters are windbags. They are solely there to make a lot of noise and to repopulate the earth with mindless hens. The hens are mindless BUT they have enough primal cunning built in to allow them to hunker down and stay shtum once they spot more than 3 eggs in a nest…they remain hunkered for 3 weeks when they emerge triumphant leading a bewildered and bedraggled selection of fluff balls out of hiding and straight into the jaws of the starving feral cats…roosters are SUPPOSED to be protectors of the flock. In our experience, they are the first to run and hide up a tree and crow from a nice safe distance once they have covered their own furry derrières. If a mindless hen spots ANYTHING out of the ordinary…say a human standing in an area that they weren’t standing in 10 minutes ago…they will send out an alarm cluck…this cluck will be passed on with exponentially increasing degrees of alarm and clucking, much like the ubiquitous Chinese Whispers game, until all roosters are crowing maniacally, all hens are clucking in unison and the alarmee is supposed to flee in mortal terror at the sheer amount of noise going on.

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If you look carefully you will see the quack-bag herself hiding behind this snapdragon that self seeds every year from goodness only knows where.

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Myrtus communis…a Mediterranean fruit that tastes somewhat foul on it’s own but that enterprising Greeks have managed to turn into some form of potent (lethal) alcohol that they imbibe on a regular basis…you have to love the Greeks…they certainly know how to take a difficult situation and make it rock!

I read a lot of blogs folks…a LOT of blogs. Some of them deal with life on farms and smallholdings and no matter how many times you read about the keeping of hens, and what a pain in the derrière they can actually be, there is a propensity for “regular folk” (that’s you lot, living in cities and big towns) to wear rose coloured glasses whenever you think about fluffy bottomed chooks clucking quietly and pecking delicately around your back yards in a romantic countrified way. The reality is that chooks are the equivalent of Somalian pirates. They rob from the rich (supposedly “us”) and they give to themselves. They navigate Serendipity Farm with stealth and cunning that leaves us alarmed, bewildered and afraid for our lives. We managed to coral them into an enclosure for 5 months and the resulting garden happiness was directly correlated to a decided lack of the ovarian orbs that make keeping chooks worth it. We might not have had chicks popping out from all over the place but we also didn’t have any eggs. What’s a smart person to do? Give in to the pirates that’s what!

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One of the “things” that have been keeping us busy on Serendipity Farm. Our crazy hippy friend down the road wants us to drink rainwater…we don’t have a say in it apparently, we HAVE to be drinking rainwater so he has given us a permanent loan of this 600 litre rainwater tank…I wonder if he will let us paint it blue to match the gas hot water heater (that is full of spiders as it gets turned off for most of the year while Brunhilda is pumping out her delicious heat…)

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Another one of the things that has been keeping us busy for the last few days. Steve headed out bush to get a load of wood with a mate on Sunday and this is the resulting haul. He will be heading out again for more wood sometime soon so thanks to his wonderful mum Kaye, whose property they are plundering for firewood, narf7 and Stevie-boy should make it through winter without turning into human popsicles

We are already finding nests in far flung well hidden places. I can only image how this is going to end and I have a VERY good imagination. When we bought our initial 8 chooks from an unscrupulous (read desperate) woman at a local market she insisted that they were all hens. I now know that this poor woman was desperate to offload at least one of her windbag roosters to some poor newbies with rose coloured glasses and visions of gorgeous fluffies assisting them with their permaculture ideals. I have since discovered that this poor woman’s flock have gone over to the dark side. No longer working FOR her, they have taken over her entire property and are festering malcontent all over the place. She has no control over them anymore. They live out of the lovely high-rise coop that her husband made for her back when she was a wide eyed newbie (not all that long before I myself came into the picture…) and they live in the trees and on the surrounding neighbour’s properties. There are so many roosters that have gone feral that there is no chance of stopping this maniacal hen invasion and the only option is to plead insanity…Allison…I no longer hold you responsible for your actions when you slipped Big Yin into my initial 8. I would do exactly the same thing. Desperation breeds craziness…a yard full of chook poo, no eggs, 40 000 chicks and 20 feral roosters all crowing directly under your window at 2am is going to render you somewhat crazy no matter how stoic and resilient you are. And still my dear constant readers will smile knowingly and will muse internally about the delights of keeping chooks. That’s how they get you folks…be afraid…be VERY afraid…

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I have been given permission to share a few of Steve’s more creative endeavours with you…

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I like to call this one “Serendipity Farm as a Christmas Bauble”…

I have been invited up to a neighbours for “morning tea”. I am a hermit. I have forgotten the niceties of social graces. I eat cake with my hands and tea from the ceramic equivalent of a bucket. I don’t have to worry about slurping or where my pinkie finger ends up or how to make small talk because Steve could care less about any of it. We talk about what our lecturer is going to do when he sees some of our “creative” photography and how we are going to be able to amend our creativity once he does. We talk about rain, and we talk about digging holes and how to deal with feral cats. I have NO idea how to talk to real people. These people, an older couple from Western Australia, my home state, are very nice. They live in a lovely old homestead with a gorgeous cottage garden in a completely walled property with gorgeous deciduous trees and three lovely miniature schnauzers. The only thing that we have in common with them is a love of gardens and a propensity to visit the husband’s place of work, he manages a bottle shop.

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I bought this ice-cream maker years ago from a market stall at the Evandale Markets. I paid $10 for it and have hardly ever used it. I would like to draw your attention TO the delicious chocolate ice-cream that is being churned in the ice-cream maker and AWAY from the dribbled chocolate creamy custard that narf7 dribbled onto the ice-cream maker and that Steve wouldn’t let me clear off before the shot was taken because I might melt the ice in the machine…sigh…

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Aside from the chocolate deliciousness in the ice-cream we chopped up some Cadbury’s dream finger biscuits and an entire crunchy bar to add. Steve is hovering around the freezer just waiting till he has eaten tonight’s Cornish pasty and spicy homemade oven wedges till he can serve himself a HUGE bowl of it. There are a lot of benefits to having a vegan wife…consider this as being one of them ;).

By the way, if anyone would like to try the truly innovative recipe for homemade chocolate ice-cream that doesn’t require eggs and is loosely based on David Lebowitz’s recipe, you can go to my food porn heaven site at Food 52 and find it here… http://food52.com/recipes/5872-naked-chocolate-ice-cream-for-lovers

Being “me” I have tried to think about the angles of this “visit”. Steve has been let off the hook (the lucky bollocks) because someone has to stay here because today is the day when the electricity metre reading man turns up and we had to promise to be here and contain our dogs because he took one look at them 5 months ago and refused to read the meter even though they were completely enclosed at least 10 metres away from where he would be reading said metre. We now have the honour of being able to read our own metre 3 times in a row and only having to lock up our dogs once every 4 months for a day till the metre reader has been. Today IS that day so Steve is off the hook. I, however, am not. A social butterfly I am not. A bewildered narf7 I am! I made a cake. I made it last night out of whatever I could cobble together that I figured would taste good and that I could eat a thin sliver of. I made it vegan and I made it chocolate and I made it with tofu and I used this recipe…

http://dairyfreecooking.about.com/od/cakes/r/veganchoccake.htm

I then decided to top it with a couple of jars of homemade coconut oil (that I almost blew my food processor motor out on trying to make), some date puree and some cinnamon to replicate a caramel topping. I ended up with something more akin to a caramel marzipan but it tasted delicious so I went with it. I formed it into a round on top of the cake and patted it neatly into a disc that fit the top of the cake nicely. I used a bit of Christi’s Farmlet jam, the BEST JAM IN THE WORLD to put in the centre of the cake and the end result looked both presentable and tasty, who could ask for more?

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Today is Bezial’s day on the blog. He is tired of Earl getting the centre stage and told me in NO uncertain terms that it will be a dog day afternoon if I don’t do something to redress the imbalance so here is a profile picture of Bezial (showing his good side apparently…)

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He will magnanimously allow this shot of Earl and would like to point out that battle scar that he, personally, inflicted on Earl making him the superior beast on the block. He doesn’t want me to tell you that this wound was inflicted while they were both rolling around playing on the floor…that would NEVER do 😉

I will hold this cake aloft like Excalibur along with a bottle of my non-dairy milk. I would hate for anyone to feel put out by my personal choice to exclude animal products from my diet. I hate a fuss being made and as I am already at a social disadvantage, I don’t want to add “crazy health nut lady” to my exponentially growing list of “crazies”. Steve and I keep to ourselves. We have, on occasion, visited with Glad next door. Glad is lovely. She is 90 years old, tough as old nails, calls a spade a spade and is ANYTHING but “old”. She also could care less what we wear and seems to like us. Frank and Adrian, our long suffering neighbours to the left seem to have gotten used to living next door to ferals. Feral cats, feral roosters, feral chooks and feral neighbours…they sigh but seem resigned to their fate. We never see Noel, our ex pilot neighbour who lives behind Frank and we don’t talk about our neighbours directly to the rear but needless to say, if “feudin’” were to be part of life on Serendipity Farm, we would pick these neighbours to start with…

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Here you see yet ANOTHER reason why we have been busier than beavers around here on Serendipity Farm. We saw a note stuck in our gate latch the other day saying “ring this number to get some more horse manure”…we phoned and were told that we could have a mountain of aged horse manure from a gentleman’s property because the person who was supposed to be taking it, didn’t so it was now free for the taking…we took! Here you can see 3 trailer loads. We ended up with 6 so even after our feathered buccaneers did their best to level the heap you can imagine the size of the mountain of manure that we can use in our new fully enclosed veggie garden 🙂

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Bezial laying next to a pile of spent hay that the chooks have done their best to redistribute all over Sidmouth. I am thinking of hiring them out as earth  movers…sigh…

The people that I will be visiting today (Tuesday) live directly opposite the neighbours directly to the rear of us. I will be heading up through the back of our property, cake aloft, plastic beer bottle full of non-dairy milk aloft and will gingerly attempt to step over the barbed wire fence between our properties where there is a council enforced “no-man’s-land” that was once mooted to be a road before they realised that lesser Sidmouth was NEVER going to be a teaming metropolis and shelved the plans to fester, along with neighbourly coveting of this area of non-road. We could care less about this small stretch of prospective road but Frank has already claimed his bit. He let us know in NO uncertain terms that should his bit of ex-road become available, he had kept it cleared for the past 10 years and had first dibs. Fair do’s Frank, you have earned it!

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Steve insisted that I put this photo of me actually doing some work on the blog. Here I am…narf7…willing and able to be the stunt double of the lead singer of Aphex Twin 😉

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Someone MUCH more handsome to look at. Isn’t he lovely? He actually smiled in town the other day and Steve got this lovely shot of him where Bezial has an uncanny knack of being able to avoid being photographed 🙂

I am not so sure that I would be as accommodating with the ex-road at the rear of our property…our neighbours to the rear are the same folk that duped our house sitter into cutting down trees on our back block so that they could attempt to gain more of a view to sell their house for more. No-one is willing to pay the ridiculous amount of money that they are asking for their modest home and so they are resorting to telling fibs to try to increase their chances of a sale. These self-same people sold my dad a dud of a car that he then gifted to my eldest daughter for her 21st birthday. He paid enough for it to have bought a sensible small modern car but a massive great automatic Mercedes Benz from the 70’s is NOT an ideal first car for a girl to learn in. When it stopped doing what cars are supposed to do…”Go”…she managed to sell it for $200 and is well shot of it. She catches buses along with her sister and living 4km from the city centre is an added bonus. No need of a petrol guzzling, road tax requiring car when you practically live in the middle of Launceston. It’s this ex-road that I will be navigating to get to my morning tea date today. Wish me luck folks and hopefully our neighbours to the rear don’t choose today, when my hands are both full, to decide to take a pot-shot of your own dear narf7!

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Here is Steve wearing his Canadian Club hat that keeps his ears warm…

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And here is Steve “Acting the Giddy Goat” as my nana would say. I doubt that he thinks I am going to put this picture in today’s blog post…but you know what Steve? You would be wrong! HA!!! He just told me he doesn’t care because this Canadian hat has been superseded by his new Russian hat that you will have to wait till my next post to see…

Bollocks…a week has passed since this post and I am tossing up whether or not to hurl it into the ether but I only have a day till I need to post again and narf7 needs something under her belt (aside from a stiff vodka) to get her through the day. It’s all things go here on Serendipity Farm. On Sunday Steve was fast asleep in bed and I was pootling around buttering bread to throw to feral chooks (it’s a tough life here on Serendipity Farm…) when the phone rang. I picked it up in shocked confusion hoping that my daughters hadn’t managed to get the dog stuck in the blender…again…and was pleasantly surprised to hear the dulcet tones of our friend who lives down the road asking for Steve. I carried the phone reverently in to Steve who was now awake and a detour for his day was on the cards. Our friend Guy was off to collect wood on his mum’s farm and had invited Steve to go with him “someday”. Apparently Sunday was “someday” and Steve was up for it. He jumped out of bed (another Jamie Oliver “literally” moment…) and hooked up the trailer and was off in a space of 15 minutes (had to have a coffee as well). That left the boys and I twiddling our thumbs and doing sweet nothing which gave me the time to eradicate my RSS Feed Reader and actually do something else on my Sunday

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Here’s a blended photo of Earl and Bezial. We had 2 photos. One where Bezial looked good and one where Earl looked good but the other dog (in each shot) was looking away so Steve used a Photoshop blending tool to blend the images. This is his first attempt but if you look closely at Earls little pink nose, you will notice it looks a little bit strange…

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With a bit of blending and a bit of cropping Steve turned less than great images into 1 wonderful image…Photoshop is the bomb! 🙂

I chose to take some gorgeous brightly coloured knitted sock boots that my wonderful son had bought for me previously. I had removed the red fleece insert prior to Earl nibbling 2 holes in each one and they had been languishing in the cupboard as I was loath to hurl them out. It’s lucky I didn’t hurl them out, even though they have the equivalent of a small airplane of a moth bite in each one, I can unpick them and use them for my next knitting project. My last knitting project, if I can remember back that far, was when I lived in Western Australia and attempted to make my ex-husband a jumper. It got as far as the front and back portion and the 2 sleeves and when it came time to put needle to collar and cuffs that was all she wrote folks! I have been married to Steve for 13 years this year so you can work out for yourselves how long it has been since I knit anything. I am going to take this gloriously and most raucously dyed (supposedly) Tibetan wool (it is certainly rustic enough in texture to be nomadic…) and after wrangling it out of its booty shape, which takes HOURS and is punctuated with moments of arm waving and Earl restraining as he is reminded of just how tasty nomadic Tibetan woollen boots are, rolling it up into ball shape and then actually knitting gauntlets using a pattern that I found through Ravelry, a most wonderful and magical place where furtive knitters and crocheters can go to satisfy their textile lust in packs. You can get some amazing patterns for free if you hunt and cheers to Linnie for sharing it with me…

http://www.ravelry.com/

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Here is a random stolen image from my brothers Facebook page of the beach where I come from in Western Australia. Check it out folks…it’s paradise :). It took a fair bit for us to consider leaving this wonderful part of the world and relocating down to the hole in the ozone layer but the lure of 4 acres of self sufficiency was strong young padawans and here we are…but I do miss those beaches…and Steve misses the fishing…by the way sorry for pinching your image Jim (no I’m not…you never read my blog posts anyway! HA!) 😉

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I designed this shirt. I WANT this shirt. Steve Photoshopped it for me and I am going to just have to head in to a printers somewhere and get myself this shirt.

On Monday I got addicted to Pinterest. That’s all I really need to say about that. On Sunday I looked down at anyone who used Pinterest as “sad” and “pathetic” creatures who didn’t have a life. On Monday Steve left me alone to go shopping and by 11am I was hopelessly addicted with the fervour of a heroin addict on a crack high.  I have been a Pinterest “member” since foreverty-boo and just ignored it ever since. I like the fact that I had to go through a waiting period to be admitted (and they say that clever marketing doesn’t work!) which shows that I fit exactly smack bang into the middle of their ideal demographic and niche market… the person (usually female) who has NO control over her life but who has a tragic desire to put EVERYTHING in labelled boxes and create order in her chaotic (read “real”) life. It’s food porn folks, food, and health, and travel, and photographic and just about everything else “ic” that you can think of and I am now officially addicted beyond hope thanks to Steve going shopping and my RSS Feed Reader emptying out nice and early in the day. I spent an entire morning cramming my Pinterest fluffy cloud with as many foodie things as I could find and I can find a HUGE amount folks, that’s what narf7’s are for…finding things. Steve returned with a carload of stuff and I had 154 Pinterest pages open on my poor groaning browser and couldn’t do ANYTHING till I had clicked “follow” on every single one. I learned (quick smart) how to make other pages on my page and now have so much food porn I won’t ever have to cook anything myself ever again to be able to satisfy that “perfect shot”. Don’t you love the fantasy of the interweb? 😉

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Steve and I FINALLY finished our media studies for this term. We finished nice and early to give ourselves 3 weeks off to get our veggie garden built. We needed to produce a slideshow of 11 photographs that we took ourselves that mirrored the 11 rules of photography for our final assessment. The only real stipulation was that we had to link them with the common theme of a colour. Steve chose green and this photo is a portrait shot…

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This was my submission…I chose blue…I didn’t get away with it. I had to repost another image that was less photogenic where Earl and I were both looking most intently over the deck rail but a girl has her pride you know and I liked THIS shot! It might not give a very good representation of portrait but who cares…for once I am happy to post an image of myself to the blog so here it is…happy days! 🙂

So there you have it…another big mutha post and I haven’t even caught up with what we are doing! I guess that means I have plenty for Saturdays post already so I might just start it off so that when I am laying somewhat comatose at 3pm because of all of the hard work that I have undertaken for the last week and am unable to lift my feeble fingers to keyboard to share it all with you, I will at least have something to offer you, my dear constant readers. See you then and whatever you do…DON’T go to http://pinterest.com/ …don’t say I didn’t warn you folks! 😉