hello easter

Hi All,

This is a special Easter post because firstly, I forgot it was Easter and secondly, I figured I shouldn’t post a spare post, even though I am not actually here to post it (don’t ask…I am magic ok?). This will be a bit smaller than my usual posts and will be more linky than usual. Here’s what I have been up to over the last few days…

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this is bun before the baking

I decided to bypass making hot cross buns this year as they stale a LOT quicker than regular hot cross buns and so I made a hot cross loaf using the following recipe…

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add sugar and cinamon

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Roll and fold time

DSCF0225Look a cherry , thats for the easter man (steve)

DSCF0238Time to bake well

http://thelittleloaf.wordpress.com/2013/03/25/healthier-wholemeal-hot-cross-loaf/

DSCF0260Emmmm

I made mine using regular strong white bread flour and I used a packet of mixed fruit with 2 cherries in it. I don’t know which mingy sod deals out the glace cherries in these packets of exorbitantly priced fruit but I recon it would actually be cheaper to bypass the cherries, especially if your man (like mine) doesn’t even like them! Anyone asking why he would buy me a packet of fruit with cherries in it to make “him” hot cross buns/loaf for Easter when he doesn’t actually like cherries needs to know that Steve shops at warp speed and rarely looks at what he is buying. So long as it’s roughly the shape of what is on the list, it’s in the trolley. I figure the 2 cherries are to be given a new significance and it’s sort of like “hunt the plastic baby” in a king cake…you find the cherry you win! I guess your prize is the cherry ;).

I baked a couple of loaves of regular bread on the same day because I looked in the freezer and realised that we weren’t going to make it till Tuesday when I get back from my daughters. The good thing about knowing how to do things yourself is that you don’t have to buy a loaf from the small petrol station cum deli that charges $10 a loaf and you can smugly pass them by without having to hock your children to satisfy your need for some quick carbs. I have been running around like a chook with my head cut off feeding kefir and storing it in the fridge and feeding Audrey to store her in the fridge for while I am away, effectively slowing the feeding frenzy down to the occasionally snack and rendering both of them strange bedfellows with the appetites of supermodels for the weekend.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe pirates are bak again

We got tired of our whiteboard because it decided that it didn’t want to release what we had written on it anymore. Rather than hurl it over the deck (my initial thought…) we decided to try out an idea that I had read about recently in one of the blogs that I follow. She linked the process back to the originator and I am pleased to share the link with you here…

http://www.marthastewart.com/271574/custom-color-chalkboard-paint

DSCF0277Pretty cool eh

DSCF0256it worked despite fran writing on it just before it was really dry lol

Ok Martha…can I have my sponsorship money now? No? Sigh… Steve mixed up a half batch ( ½ cup dark blue acrylic paint and 1 tbs sieved tile grout) to do a test on a piece of metal in the shed before we launched into painting our whiteboard (fool us once…) and after a rough coating and a nights drying time it was time to test it out…however we realised that we were deficient in chalk… we had none! We headed out to walk the dogs and saw Roxy, our friend down the road and asked her if she had a spare piece of chalk. Roxy has grandkids that come to visit and is the obvious choice to ask about chalk and all things kiddy crafty. She had 2 boxes of chalk and was generous enough to give us one of them. We got the chalk home and had a look at the box and noticed that it was old. We looked up the chalk online and discovered that it was manufactured by the “Cosmic” company back last century. A more fitting chunk of writing material for our upcycle of our defunct whiteboard I can’t think of. We got home and Steve tested out his tester board in the shed and it worked! After masking up the whiteboard he gave it 2 coats of paint and as Brunhilda was on for the afternoon, baking our loaves she kindly dried the white/blackboard in quick speedy time and we tested the board and it works better than regular chalkboard paint does! BONUS! If you have children, or a kitchen wall that bores you, or a back of a door that could be used for writing notes or amusing children or kids that LOVE to draw on walls (I had one of those…) or a husband who got VERY excited about being able to mask up and paint an entire wall of his music room in a blackboard union jack, have a go…the results were amazingly high quality and you can use any colour paint you like, so long as it is acrylic.

DSCF0264emmm i love shepards pies

DSCF0274emmmmmmmmmmmm  even better shot want some 😉

It’s Good Friday and as Steve is “sort of” a Catholic we are having veggie burgers for tea tonight. He was too lazy to head out in the Mumbly Cumumbus to catch any fish so its veggies for him ;). He had a most unctuous shepherd’s pie last night and I have been making lasagnes and calzone etc. for him to just be able to pull things out of the fridge/freezer for meals over the weekend. He has to water my veggies, walk the dogs (both of them with a combined weight of 75kg) himself, post my post and add photos, guard the house against burglars and alien invasion and all of the things that men do when they are left alone at home (basically weld his derrière to the television and have marathon horror movie watching fests all weekend 😉 ). I can’t tease him too badly because Steve and I have a new television love. I can’t tease ANYONE anymore because this love is base and degrading and we can’t help it, we are addicted… we love “Honey Boo-boo”. It’s official. We love her, her redneck family, and we love their crazy coupon clipping, pageant attending, crazy world. I think we might need to be committed after a few more episodes but for now we are loving Honey Boo-boo and her crazy antics…”work it girlfriend!” ;).

fpwIts a line from a pink floyd song people ,,, i made this for fran

We have been going deep into Photoshop and love where it is taking us. For our assessment we need to create a poster using a logo that we are designing. This morning we found tutorials on Youtube that showed us how to make faces into text and how to make psychedelic rock posters from the 70’s!!! You can’t show a penniless aging hippy something like that and not expect her to break something in a feeble attempt to do a cartwheel! Steve also found a fantastic site where you can download all different kinds of free brushes and patterns etc. And I can see where I am going to be spending the free portion of my week of holidays over Easter. Photoshop and the price of high class cameras coming down have given we mainstream plebeians the ability to mess about with photography where once only the professionals could go. This follows the trend of people becoming their own landscape gardeners, their own restaurant chefs and their own artisan craftsmen. Obviously there are now biafran near starving representatives of these specialised industries nailing boards over their once prosperous shop windows but what do we care? The lowly masses can do it all! But can we do it well? That remains to be seen! I read about how allotments were being snapped up years in advance by hipsters hell bent on doing their thang all natural like and being able to wax lyrical to their friends about how green and hip and cool they were…but apparently they didn’t factor in the workload that you have to negotiate when growing your own vegetables and as they can’t vault over it and get someone else to do it (Green wash time!) they are leaving in droves and abandoning their allotments. About time I say! Get back to your 2 jobs in the city with your dog/cat children and your desire to be young forever…leave the gardens for people who are willing to put in the effort and by the way “skinny leg jeans are passé!” there…I said it! “Flares are coming back!”… I said that too! Man I am on a roll! ;). Ok, that’s enough words folks. I have 3 loads of washing to do, a pile of veggie burgers to rustle up, some form of clothing to toss into a bag along with some shoe like things to keep my feet safe, I need to run around gesticulating some more and making strange noises that will alarm the dogs and I need to sink down into a chair with my hand on my forehead sighing deeply…all of this will be completely ignored by my dear other half who has seen my travelling histrionics so many times he no longer worries that I am about to hyperventilate myself off the sofa. Have a great Easter period folks and keep safe. Stay away from rabid hoe wielding hipsters running in the opposite direction of their allotment and if you are clever you will follow them in your car because those hoes will be thrown down in disgust and they ONLY buy good quality second-hand things from Etsy so you are likely to score something great ;). See you Wednesday when I may, or may not be significantly greyer than I am now 😉

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHoney Boo Boo style water slide in sidmouth

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFattys on the pot again …

DSCF0278Almost the last of summers harvests

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAwhy not .

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAour local tug boat

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA flock of cockys sitting on the wires

Ok folks sorry i didnt say much about the posts but this is steve and i suck at the typing lol fran says see you soon and have a great easter .. bye for now

A Fracoon is eating my library books!

Hi All,

My daughters took one look at our new pup a year ago and said “It’s a Fracoon”. A fracoon is apparently a cross between “Redd Fox” from the Nintendo game Animal Crossing and a racoon. Earl has proven to be a worthy combination of the two. Redd Fox was a dubious ‘merchant’ in the game and whenever you bought something from his nefarious shop, you were always aware that it might not be quite kosher (if you get my drift) and ran the risk of being ridiculed for buying a fake. Foxes are nefarious creatures that slink around looking for something to eat or some trouble to get into and raccoon’s reputations precede them. They are gregarious, brave, inquisitive and little demolition derbies on wheels, much like our Aussie brush tail possums. Earl is all of the above in a much bigger skin. Like foxes and racoons he has his cute moments. Earl isn’t a bad dog…he is a bored dog. Steve and I walk both dogs at least 5km a day which takes us over an hour. Bezial is fine with this and spends the rest of the day lounging around on the deck or moving from sunbeams to a bit of shade. Earl is another kettle of fracoons and we just have to amuse him throughout the day. I have foiled the library and have purchased a copy of “A Covenant with Death” by John Harris from an online second-hand book seller and it is winging its merry way across the Tasman as I type this post and once it arrives I will take it, along with the shredded remnants of a young dog’s inquisitiveness and face the music at the library. I have a sneaking suspicion that they are going to start suggesting library books to me. You know the kind…the tattered yellow dog-eared kind with more sticky tape on them than book because so far, the library has been coming out of the “Fracoon book cleansing” events on top. Earl’s first attempt was a hardly read copy of a hard cover book about edible food forests. It was replaced with a brand new copy sent out from old Blighty post haste. This second book was from the early 1960’s. Some might say “a 60’s book is a classic so would cost more to replace”. I would say “this book could be found for 20c at an op shop if I had the time and the ability to hunt through the shelves in Launceston” but I don’t and so the online option where the book was actually removed from someone’s market stall at the Melbourne Markets had to be effected. This book is shiploads better than the copy that Earl segmented and so again…the library comes out on top. I hope that Earl (and I) have learned our lessons now. Library books are NOT worth eating or leaving anywhere that fracoons can find them.

This is the very first Garage Sale house for us. We started at the opposite side of the run of houses and were going the opposite way to just about everyone else. The story of our lives! Doesn’t this place look more like Vermont than Australia? Steve got his backpack sprayer here. Perfect for seasol, worm tea etc.

Garage sale number 2 and the start of a trend for various kinds of boats for sale. We even saw an unattended boat on the side of the road with a “For Sale” sign on it…

“The Others”… Have any of you seen a U.K. show called Mr Bean? In it, we can only assume an alien abducted (and rejected summarily) ausbergers man navigates his way through the “normal” world leaving an hilarious trail of debris behind him. There was an episode where he went on holiday and for some reason, singled out a man to compete with. This family are our “man” and we are playing the part (most magnificently I might add…) of Mr Bean. Brett and Sandy are locals that we know quite well. We don’t see them very often and usually only say hello to their dog Tommy while he is barking at us walking the dogs. We last saw them last year at the progressive garage sale where we rose victorious in our quest and bought the bargain of the day that is still spoken about in hallowed circles. Today we were chatting with them about how to defend yourself against marauding dogs when walking your dog on a lead. We said that we were going to buy a pair of telescopic walking poles from Ebay specifically for the purpose. Brett said “That’s a bloody good idea!” and as we both drove off in a cloud of dust it was on! later on they overtook us and we met them coming back the other way with a victorious Brett waving a telescopic ski pole out of the window saying “It only cost $3!”…Touche Brett and Sandy…Touche…for now! There’s always next year…

The next garage sale was a thinly veiled attempt to draw unsuspecting people in to a photographic gallery. We decided not to subject you to the pathetic items on display whilst the owner ushered us all into the gallery…we took photos of his goats instead. They were MUCH more interesting and attractive and I bet they were a heck of a lot cheaper! Goat 1

Goat 2

Steve and I have been working on one of our latest projects in our landscape design diploma. Today we will be making blocks in AutoCAD to place into our plan so that we can give our lecturer a “Concept Plan” for when we next see him. We have been looking online for concept plans to see if we can’t tailor AutoCAD to do what we want it to do because as technical and detailed as it is, it was never designed to be an artistic application and our results look unpolished. We discovered that many landscape designers use other, more artistic, applications but we are not in the position where we can pay for another computer program to make our plans “look pretty” at the moment so we are doing what we do best and thinking laterally. Studying from home allows us to make a whole lot of silly mistakes using AutoCAD and because our lecturer isn’t right here with us we pretty much mess about and see if we can’t solve our own problems before we send off a volley of “HELP” messages to his inbox. We often come up with solutions that our lecturer might not otherwise have had to deal with and so we learn more about what we are doing than we would otherwise do if we were sitting in a classroom of students watching the board. Studying from home is really great for us. For the first 18 months of our horticultural adventure we had to attend class daily. We lived 4km from the city centre at the time and had just signed up for our diploma in horticulture when my dad died suddenly and everything changed. We moved from 4km away from the city to 50km away from the city. Because we were penniless hippy students we were unaware how our inheritance of 2 houses would affect our student payments and so we spent the rest of 2010 cramming in as many units (5 in all) as we could (the most expensive units in the diploma) to ensure that we wouldn’t have to pay full price for these units the year after. Tasmania’s low priced houses allowed us to keep both houses and still fulfil our student payment obligations and so life didn’t suddenly become massively complicated and we were able to move here and carry on studying as we had before. We are so very glad that we had been studying horticulture because without that lifesaving backbone we would still be huddled under the bed hiding from the massive vegetative problem we inherited. We are using our property for our sustainable landscape design. It’s given us a degree of personal satisfaction to use what we already know and supplement it with permaculture principals using information gleaned from as many of the incredibly generous people out there who live a permaculture life and who are willing to share their trials and tribulations with the rest of us. We learn from their mistakes and are able to use their hard work to our avail. One day we will help community groups to design outdoor spaces that suit them using what we have learned. We hope to barter our way through life as we turn Serendipity Farm into our own personal little oasis of permaculture bliss. I dare say I won’t be writing “The Serendipity Farm Little Book of Calm” any day soon, but things are starting to feel like they are working together around here for the first time in almost 2 years. Cycles are starting to integrate and we can see a light at the end of this most chaotic of tunnels. We are growing our own nut trees, fruit trees, edible fruiting shrubs and as much as we can to help us to turn this property into an edible food forest for the native animals and for us. Our lecturer is jaded about country living. No doubt he was once a bright eyed bushy tailed (sorry Nick…I just made you sound like one of your arch nemesis possums there!) horticulturalist out to save the world but things wear you down and the native wildlife here is most persistent. Wonderful ideals can come tumbling down or can be worn down slowly until their shell is as smooth as a cynical rock. I don’t blame him for being sceptical about our food forest idea. It’s easy to throw ideas around like Earl throws feathers from one of his plucked victims but I never do anything by halves. I have a burning need to research things and find the best possible outcome and one day, we will be able to live with the possums, indeed, they, being the territorial little bully bruisers that they are, will do our work for us. One family will rule them all and will keep the rest from scavenging everything that grows and there will be so much food here that one family won’t be able to eat it all. That’s my aim and over the next few years we will see if I end up victorious or jaded. Either way my stubborn willpower won’t allow us not to have our edible food forest. It might just look like a Steampunk garden covered in old smooth metal and strange gnarled structures designed to minimise damage by the natives. Either way we will have a garden worth visiting.

The outside of the Deviot Hall, the recipient of the proceeds of the garage sale fees today.

This startled looking lady was a stallholder inside the hall. I bought a pair of Dutch canisters from here. The canisters were for “Suiker” and “Koffie”…

This most suspicious man seems to be in quite a few of my photographs. It’s lucky that he was standing right there in front of this large Eucalyptus viminalis. As you can probably guess, this next garage sale was not all that photogenic…

We purchased a most interesting “lion” at this house. At least we THINK it is a lion…it was only $2 and a fitting plaything for the boys to dismember after our day out hunting for bargains

It’s just on dawn and I can hear Little Red (rooster) Big Yin’s first male progeny giving it the old college try outside and alerting me to stop typing and get his bread chopped. Steve and the dogs are still in bed. I like having an hour to myself in the morning and no sooner do I get out of bed than Bezial (who vacates the bed in the night) is waiting wagging his tail to hop into my nice warm patch and be covered over by the doona. I take Steve in a cup of coffee at 7 and we work out what we are going to do with our day. Today we will be walking the dogs early and we will then design some blocks for our concept plan in AutoCAD and after that we are going to cut a path through the weeds at the side of the house from the steps to where we have our potted plants around the side. We have been wondering why we haven’t done this sooner but we tend to flit around from project to project on Serendipity Farm to keep us motivated and this project has been on the back burner in the “not important or not dire” pile. Up to now we haven’t had the luxury of choosing, we have had to tackle the weed problem, the grass problem and the firewood problem as matters of importance. We DON’T want a fine from council for being a fire risk, we don’t want to perpetuate the weed problem that we have here and spread it to our neighbours (any more than it already is…) and we don’t want to be cold in winter so we needed to deal with those fundamentals first. Now we have the relative luxury of being able to choose and this pathway is one of our first choices because it will mean that we don’t have to walk 150metres to reach somewhere that is actually 10 metres away, just totally inaccessible thanks to tangled and massed vegetation. It will make our lives a bit easier and I am all for that!

I might only have bought a freaky handmade lion (that has since gone to meet its maker) but I fell instantly in love with this tiny bulldozer! Nothing would give me jip if I had this little baby on the property…not rocks…weeds…Earl…NOTHING would stop me! It’s just a pity it wasn’t for sale…

Many houses in Tasmania have apple packing sheds on the property. Tasmania is predominately an apple growing state and this old packing shed only opens once a year for this garage sale. I bought an Inkle loom and some world music CD’s from here last year and this year I bought a double disc DVD of Bill Grainger (an Australian Cook for everyone out of the loop) for $1. I just really love these steps…

And this bit…

And this bit too! See you next year Apple Packing shed…

Isn’t this ornamental grape lovely? That black coated woman in the background is me attempting to get Steve to think about letting me have some old wooden doors and a window sill for $5 each. We didn’t end up getting them and thank goodness because I have NO idea why I wanted them!

We made a few blocks, we cleared out a pathway and as we usually do, we were not content to leave it at that and headed off tackling blackberries with our swashbuckling secateurs and our trusty small pruning saw. We lopped 15ft tall roses that should never have ventured above 5ft, we removed enormous boneseed plants, weeds from South Africa (as are most Aussie invasive weeds because they LOVE it here) and had to be very careful wherever we trod because the 3 latest silver laced Wyandotte babies and their 2 mums and Effel and her remaining 7 babies were everywhere! As usual, we managed to carve a way through the wilderness to make it easier for us to go from the steps to the potted plant area around the side of the house and in the process generated 3 trailer loads of debris (mostly boneseed, blackberries and enormously overgrown Buddleia davidii). Once we removed the overgrown Buddleia shrubs on the side of the deck we opened up a newfound gap in our Earl proof garden defences and we had to fix it up post haste! Earl had a bit of a nibble on the new fortification and decided that the taste and texture of thick weldmesh are not something that he is going to ingest any day soon. Owners 1, Earl nil. The petition that I started on Avaaz a few weeks ago when foaming at the mouth (a regular occurrence for me whenever I watch, listen or become aware of “news” in general) at a news bulletin about our state leader telling us how we NEED that (bloody) pulp mill for Tasmania’s future…eh?! If we are relying on it, Tasmania is totally bollocked as far as I am concerned. I no sooner settled down (still foaming and muttering) to the PC when I noticed a post from Kosmos9, a blog that I follow, sharing a site where normal people can make a difference by starting a petition. I threw myself into it with great gusto and set about transferring all of that froth and angst and frustration into that petition. I got an email from one of the Avaaz volunteers who is an Aussie living in Sweden and who helped me reformulate the petition into a smaller, more condensed (less foam and more meat ;)) petition and now the petition has been noticed by most of the local anti-pulp mill groups and it went from 10 signature’s to just on 400 in one day! I hope EVERYONE signs this petition. We are unable to get the media to be unbiased regarding this matter and so those of us who don’t want this mill (most of Tasmania’s population) are simply ignored and don’t have a voice. We are told blatant lies in the media that we can’t counteract because we are stifled whenever we try to have our voices heard. One can only think that the media in Tasmania is bought and paid for by big business along with both major political parties in our state. This petition was my one way of sharing my angst with the rest of the world and it looks like the rest of the world is actually starting to listen! Cheers to anyone reading this blog who has signed my petition. You are giving us back our voice and a degree of hope that we might be able to do something about this injustice. There are over 500 signatures for the petition now and growing (hopefully exponentially).

When we pulled up in the driveway of this house there was a little covered stand loaded up with jonquil bulbs, enormous organic grapefruit and small sage and chive plants in recycled newspaper pots for “donations to the famine in Africa”. I knew that I was just about to meet some kindred spirits and on meandering down their driveway and seeing this totem pole, it bolstered my opinion of them no end. It also gave Steve the idea of making his own totem pole

This is a permaculture garden with a large almond tree in the centre and various annuals and perenials as well as edible plants and vegetables. The owners told me that they wanted to reach an eventuality where they had minimal human input with the garden. Good luck with that guys 🙂

I just loved this little gargoyle on that stump. It personified exactly how I feel sometimes when I head out into the garden and have to start thinking about where to get stuck in…

I didn’t like the woman running this garage sale. She was somewhat snooty and very overpriced so I headed out to where she actually had something interesting and took a photo of this possum fortified veggie garden combined with a chook house and a weather vane. I really appreciated her chook yard…I didn’t appreciate her!

Heres the other side of the chook jail with a wistful rooster peeking out…

We got up bright and early this morning to go to the annual progressive garage sale that we went to last year totally by accident. We were heading somewhere with our trailer when we noticed the garage sale sign and found out that lots of houses were involved. It’s a great idea and allows everyone to sell off their unwanted items at the same time so they don’t have to pay for the publicity and there are more people out and about than might come for a single garage sale. We walked the boys early and packed them into the car with the lure of “walking at the beach”. For the next 2 hours we got in and out of the car and had to shove an ever more reluctant Earl into the back. I love garage sales and have the opinion that I don’t have to race from door to door because I might miss something (as many of the people we saw were doing) because if we were meant to get an item, it would be there for us. I took lots of photos to share with you whenever I could. We cashed up $50 into coins and smaller notes because there is nothing worse for someone having a garage sale than people wielding $50 notes. We still had $23 left when we got back and bought heaps of unique and interesting things and met some really interesting people. At the final garage sale I met a lady that I had met in the Exeter Library who had a common interest in sourdough bread making and she told me that she has just succeeded in making a great starter and is going to give me some! We found an amazing seed pod on a Eucalyptus conferruminata and its currently residing in the cooler of our 4 ovens so that we can see if we can get some seed from it. I had a really good time wandering around other people’s driveways and gardens and was more interested in what people were growing than in what was for sale! I got a most eclectic mix of items and am most happy with what we bought. Steve got a backpack sprayer from the very first garage sale that we went to for $5. It is a step up from the small spray pack that we are currently using that came with seasol when we purchased it. I love getting bargains and re-using things that other people no longer want. We bought a wonderful handmade wall tile for $2 with a wonderful representation of the sun on it that is now hanging out on our wall on the deck. At the end of the garage sale line we got to Paper Beach and it was blowing up a storm when we got the long suffering dogs out of the car. They won’t be in such a hurry to get into the car next time!

This was the last garage sale of the day and I loved this metal pelican statue. We skipped a few garage sales and I didn’t take photos of some of the others which is very lucky because otherwise this post would be bordering on a novella again wouldn’t it!

This is the flower of the Eucalyptus conferruminata that I mentioned earlier.

And the magnificent seed pod (my daughters who have just started reading these posts again are rolling their eyes and skipping over this bit saying “MORE PLANTS”…)

Sorry about the lack of focus on this spent flower bud but apparently my camera can only focus on the foreground OR the background and its the backgrounds turn this time…sigh…

And lastly the leaves of this most beautiful and interesting of Eucalypts

In keeping with my need to make my posts smaller I will finish up here for the day. Hi to Kelsey if you are reading this post. I was really glad to meet you and I hope you have a fantastic life changing holiday. To everyone else, have an awesome week and see you hump day…

Here are some of the bargains that we got… the 2 glasses cost a total of $1 and are hand blown glass and that reed thing on the right hand side is a pot with a handle from Papua New Guinea for my “reeds of the world” collection. I don’t really have a reeds of the world collection but apart from making me sound interesting, I might just have to start one now!

I met many interesting people while garage saling and Steve met a real fun guy…you can see him at the very front of the photo…fun guy…fungi oh come ON people! We all need a little lightness and laughter in our day 😉