Going to Montana to raise me a crop of dental floss…

Hi All,

As whacked out and strange as he was, I love me a bit of Frank Zappa. Here’s a most poignant discourse about mainstream education that rings most true…

“Schools train people to be ignorant, with style. They give you the equipment that you need to be a functional ignoramus. American schools do not equip you to deal with things like logic; they don’t give you the criteria by which to judge between good and bad in any medium or format; and they prepare you to be a usable victim for military-industrial complex that needs manpower.”

“As long as you’re just smart enough to do a job and just dumb enough to swallow what they feed you, you’re gonna be alright. But if you go beyond that then you’re gonna have these grave doubts that give you stomach problems, headaches…make you want to go out and do something else. So, I believe that schools mechanically and very specifically try and breed out any hint of creative thought in the kids that are coming out.”

– Frank Zappa

 

Thinking about how next year we might just have to attend TAFE a few days a week and having to get my head around getting back into learning by rote and sitting down and behaving all over again. Not all that used to forced learning and we are quite used to studying when we like these days so this is going to be a difficult situation for this little black duck to bear.

Ducky loves fresh water , look at her go :)

Ducky loves fresh water , look at her go 🙂

Ms Pauline http://paulinekingblog.wordpress.com/2014/10/07/sometimes-i-sits-and-thinks/ has been talking about magic and bringing it back into our lives. This year I am dabbling in my own kind of magic alchemy of seed raising. The process from tiny dormant seed to big beautiful plant of purest green is the stuff that narfs wizardly dreams are made of. I have, prior to now, only bought post magic seeds and beanstalks for my annual garden but this year…THIS YEAR I am working my magic horticultural wand and I am attempting to magically coax life from tiny seeds so I planted out some seedlings. Yes, I did plant okra. I planted it because it is pretty much guaranteed to grow, has pretty flowers that the bees love and predominately because I tried it once and found it lacking. I am the sort that likes to give everything a second try just in case the first try was aberrant so yes…I am growing okra. I am also going to give Roselle’s a go and have planted out some purple artichoke seeds. I know that others are planting out peanuts and I am going to give them a go as well. I am not entirely sure as to how they will go here in farthest flung antipodean Tasmania but even if they fail, they are nitrogen fixing legumes so at least the soil will be better off after planting them even if I don’t get much of a yield. A cover crop with benefits…

Now we have a issue with a Kurrajong …

He is getting to cocky and likes cheese to much.

He is getting to cocky and likes cheese to much.

 

Emm cheese

Emm cheese

 

Jan, our friend who is just about to head off to Germany in the next 3 weeks, just gave me a large bag of vegetable, herb and flower seeds. Some of them date back to last century but I am going to give them a go. One of the bags looks like it predates me and is for something called Borecole, an old world name for kale. The manufacturer is one “Chas. Creswell & Co.” from Hobart Tasmania. I am going to give these seeds the old college try. I would love to think that something so old could still be vital and how amazing if they grow! The seed growing bug has me by the throat at the moment. I need to make some more seed raising mix but my last batch saw me institute a huge wooden splinter under my left middle finger nail while I was mixing in the ingredients by hand. It almost reached the quick of my nail and after liberal applications of peroxide to make sure it didn’t get infected after I pulled out the splinter, it has just about healed. I am loath to mix anything by hand till it is completely healed so am working on converting an old blender that we have (and don’t use) to the purpose. We have some amazing “black gold” compost that will be perfect for the job and I need to pick up some coconut coir peat to lighten it up enough to keep the seeds moist and the mix friable.

Just haveing a stroll on the deck are we..

Just haveing a stroll on the deck are we..

I picked up some chives in a pot for $2 from the lady who has a little plant stall at the top of a steep hill. I consider it my reward to buy a plant from the stall for having to walk the dogs up there when they are bored of our usual walks. I have picked up chocolate mint, various day lilies, dahlias etc. from this little stall and you just never know what might appear there on any given day so it’s wise to keep a regular eye on it and for only $2, walking up the hill is almost worthwhile. The weather has been a bit hit and miss of late but now that the glasshouse has been sorted out I can mess about propagating and planting to my heart’s content even if it is pouring down outside.

What happened here?

What happened here?

We have mystic eggs that roll on  there own i think ...

We have mystic eggs that roll on there own i think …

Steve and I finished the doors into Sanctuary through the side of the shed and now we can back the trailer up with loads of horse manure, seaweed, oak leaves and grass clippings and anything else that we can think of that will compost down well to deliver directly into Sanctuary. Prior to this, we would have to wheelbarrow loads of ingredients in through the door which up until yesterday, was a serious obstacle course to walk, let alone push a wheelbarrow into. Our entire property is on a steep incline and whenever it rains, the resulting water flows down with impunity. Part of Sanctuary is a quagmire and the problem is that it was the part where you have to walk in to get inside. We have a heap of spent horse manure inside the new compound area that needs to be transferred into Sanctuary but we simply had no way of delivering it inside aside from in buckets. I love the idea of having horse manure in my garden but shovelling it into buckets and carrying them back and forth up a steep slope? Not so much…

Oii there my eggs you know

Oii there my eggs you know

 

Blood moon , it was very cool to watch it

Blood moon , it was very cool to watch it

One i took before the blood moon started

One i took before the blood moon started

So we decided to take the bull by the horns and make a concrete path and ramp to bypass the mud. We discovered that the mud is the kind that squelches and sucks wellington boots off and the kind that Earl has to tip-toe over so we are also going to tip a trailer load of larger blue metal stones into the area where we are storing water in Blue barrels so that the mud stays under the rocks and doesn’t take over. Yesterday we decided it was perfect conditions to make the ramp and we spent most of the day shovelling concrete mix, concrete dust and water into a wheelbarrow and wheeling it up a steep incline into Sanctuary where Earl decided that he was both going to escape through the gate as we were shovelling and barrowing and make sure that he left his mark in the concrete. We gave up on trying to stop Earl leaving his paw prints in the concrete but were most steadfast in preventing him from escaping. 1 out of 2 aint bad Earl!

Cool whats this grey mud pa ? is it good for my little paws?

Cool whats this grey mud pa ? is it good for my little paws?

 

Oh i like the feel of this can we do some more grey mud?

Oh i like the feel of this can we do some more grey mud?

Much like everything on Serendipity Farm, the ramp and path were not easy to accomplish but again, like everything else that we have had to work hard to achieve here, it comes with a great sense of accomplishment and our efforts at having to think outside the box, heck, create new boxes to think outside of, are their own reward. I can’t use the path for a few days and by the time I can use it, I will be in the city staying with my daughters for a few days. Steve will be left in charge of the watering, the chook feeding, the chook fetching, one clucky chook needs to be brought inside at the end of the day from her chosen nest out on the property as the quoll is back on the scene and recently killed one of our young point of lay girls who was most unlucky to choose that day to go clucky on a single egg. He also has to walk the dogs, feed himself (but he has lasagne, fish pie and many MANY homemade pasties in the freezer so that’s not too difficult) and anything else that Steve deems important for a few days. By the time you read this I will actually be home from my daughter’s house and I am writing this blog post last Friday in preparation for my fleeing the coop for a few days.

Look mud i love the dirt says Earl

Look mud i love the dirt says Earl

 

This is why we need a path , we have sludge

This is why we need a path , we have sludge

 

Steve is outside whipper snipping parts of the garden that have gone completely feral. Some of the periwinkle and forget me nots have almost reached thigh height and taunt us daily as we walk down the driveway to take the dogs for their morning walks. Everything seems to be enjoying the lovely spring weather and taking the opportunity of the regular rain that we have been getting to grow like topsy. We planted out most of our Brachychiton discolor that we grew from seed that we sourced online back in 2009 when we first started to study horticulture and were studying in class. Being an Eastern rainforest species, we had no idea if they would grow this far down in Tasmania but we had a really good germination rate and most of them survived the last 5 years of neglect to be planted out down the driveway last year and all of them are thriving. If you would like to see what a Brachychiton discolor flower is like here is a link…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brachychiton_discolor

Jan gave Fran a really lovely bread book

Jan gave Fran a really lovely bread book

We just restrung the hills hoist washing line that appeared to have the original string that it came with about 30 years ago dangling precariously by threads. We discovered plastic coated metal clothes line at Bunnings (Big hardware store) and restrung the top of Sanctuary with it to stop the possum invader hoards and we had some left over that we decided we would fix the poor sagging washing line. There is something incredibly satisfying in accomplishing something with your day. Today we strung up the clothes line, I cut the marauding honeysuckle vine out of a rosemary bush, Steve cut down 2 saplings inside the compound that had the ability to grow into major problems in about 10 years time and I chopped them up and we put them on the compost heap inside Sanctuary. Those gates/doors in the shed that lead into Sanctuary are amazing. Steve whipper snipped part of the garden that was threatening to collapse under the combined weight of the forget-me-nots and the periwinkle and we have been pottering around “doing things” all day. I am just about to see how amazingly explosive my old blender can be when filled with compost and subject to high revvage in order to turn said compost into light friable seed raising mix potentials. I am not too fussed if it blows up as I rarely use the food processor that it is attached to anyway but I need this seed raising mix!

The old raggy line

The old raggy line

 

New line on the washing line

New line on the washing line

I will get back to those packets of seeds that Jan gave to me. There are lots of herb seeds including chives, dill, parsley and peppermint along with caraway which will be most interesting if it germinates. Lots of flower seeds that I will grow in punnets and plant out among the veggies to confuse the pests and a good selection of veggie seedlings including San Marzano tomato seed! Keep your fingers crossed that they germinate even if the use by date might be slightly overdue. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. I love a good experiment and adventure and living the way that we do is a constant chance for a bit of adventurous experimentation. We have learned to solve all kinds of problems and encounters with pieces of string, flour and salt glue and a dab of spit and polish and we are thinking of calling ourselves “MacGyver 1 and MacGyver 2” If Dr Seuss had been around to write another Cat in the Hat opus, I am sure he could have done worse than doing a deal with MacGyver 1 and MacGyver 2.

Shuttering ready for concrete

Shuttering ready for concrete

 

The concrete helper is here ...

The concrete helper is here …

Getting there ..

Getting there ..

A great path now

A great path now

Looking good i think ( i didn't do a trowel finish as we want to be able to grip when its wet)

Looking good i think ( i didn’t do a trowel finish as we want to be able to grip when its wet)

Time to head off and get back into the garden. The dogs would have me believe that it is time for them to be fed but I am thinking there might be a bit of time to prune something, pot something up or at least stand on the deck and plot some kind of garden resurrection. Hopefully you are all up to your ears in something that delights you and makes you smile or like us, up to your armpits in mud and horse manure and smiling politely with your mouth shut because no-one wants horse manure in their teeth 😉

View from the cherry tree to the house

View from the cherry tree to the house

A view from the new compound that the boys love :) Also frans indicator tree

A view from the new compound that the boys love 🙂 Also frans indicator tree an apple that shows us we dont have possums in the new compound

 

A baby oak in its leaves

A baby oak in its leaves

 

And here we are with the cheese bird again :)

And here we are with the cheese bird again 🙂

 

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Reality Checker

Hi All,

I came up with the premise for this blog post while I was walking Earl dressed in 3 layers of mismatched clothing with a “Dad’s Army” (look it up, better still head over to YouTube and watch an episode…) beanie pulled down over my head and when I looked in the mirror (after reading this post YOU tell me which mirror I looked in 😉 ) I looked like a man disguised as a bag lady…NOT a good look! Here’s the haiku that I used to remember everything that I wanted to add to the first part of this post while I walked the 5km home…the bag lady/man and her dog…

“Mirror on the wall

Fabulous Dorian Grey

Reality Check”

It pays to have a system whereby you can remember something you really REALLY want to remember if you don’t have a pen and paper handy to write it down or, like in my case, your fingers are frozen stiff and you can’t feel them enough to get out the pen and paper and even if you could your dog is champing at the bit to forge on ahead and one hand stretched out at right angles to the body is NOT going to let you write anything easily…I don’t usually affect haiku’s, just this time I didn’t want to sing it loudly all the way home (my preferred method of memory booster) as Earl was hunting wabbits and was giving me evil’s …

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One of the lovely abalone shells that was left over from Steve’s happy abalone meal last week

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A much more humble but just as delicious meal consisting of the above (cooked pasta and scrumptious slow cooked bolognaise sauce) and topped with a very rich cheesy sauce and baked.

Have you got a reality check? You know…that friend/husband/dog that won’t let your head swell up too big and are able to ensure that you remain a stable and useful human being without expecting the world to bow before you as you walk down the street and strew rose petals at your feet. My reality check is a mirror. I have 2 mirrors that I regularly look in. I have a large mirror on the lounge-room wall that I stand on a sofa to see how I look all over in but that’s just for going out and as I tend to only go out once in a blue moon it’s not to be included in my “regular” viewing  for the purposes of this post.

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This is Jemima. Daughter of Hildabooch. Note her aunt Jemima headscarf and the scull and crossbones was to warn guests at a very upmarket wine tasting evening that Jemima was NOT to be imbibed, well not yet. She has some fermenting to do for Ms Florida her new owner and mistress. Long may she ferment!

 

My first mirror is a simple wooden framed mirror that hangs in the bathroom. I call this mirror my “FABULOUS SWEETIE” mirror as when I look in it, I AM fabulous. I wash my face, I comb (who am I kidding, I need a stiff broom to get through these locks!) my hair and I slap on some olive oil face cream and all the while this mirror soothes my ego. “Not looking too bad for an old girl (said whilst winking at myself and cocking a finger  in my facial direction). Not bad at all. I look for signs of grey hair, nothing obvious, I can’t see many wrinkles and can’t see any big ones (not that I have had my eyes checked lately) and after brushing my teeth and seeing how sparkling clean and white they look I head off full of possibilities and all is right with my ego in Serendipity Ville

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I didn’t realise that Steve had taken this photo. I almost deleted it but realised that this is me…saggy bottomed track pants and all and so for the sake of honesty, here is narf7 completely unaware that Stevie-boy is on the prowl with his camera

The second mirror is a bollocks. I have NO idea why but every…single…time that I look in this mirror I come away feeling deflated. Even a quick glance (because I forgot to “NEVER LOOK IN THAT BLOODY MIRROR AGAIN!”) Yields mild depression. I appear to have been taken over by a middle aged woman with wrinkles! I can see grey hairs alright and they seem to have been joined by their best friends split ends (not the band…just sayin’…). For the record this mirror is also surrounded by a simple wooden frame so it can’t be the frame that is acting as some kind of torture device. It’s not like I am vain. I have never been able to trade on my looks to win me friends or influence people; it’s just that this mirror is so VERY frank. No muted edges to soften the blow. No pat on the head in sympathy as I blow my nose just “it is what it is”.

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Here we have brownies…well technically apple blondies. I would like to say that they were the terrible “M” word that food bloggers are not allowed to use any more but I can’t it is verboten, so I headed off to good old Google to look up a synonym for the “M” word and got “damp, steamy, humid, muggy, clammy, dank, wet, dewy, dripping, soggy, sweaty, sticky…” err…not entirely sure that muggy or clammy or dank brownies are going to sell a recipe but you get my drift!

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Here is a closer shot of them in all of their dank glory…emmm 😉

That second mirror is my reality checker. The mirror that should be locked away in a wardrobe or better still in the roof cavity (note to self…”put that bloody mirror in the roof cavity!”) While I gaze adoringly into that first mirror that tells me that everything is hunky dory on the beauty stakes and I am GORGEOUS sweetie. The problem is that I like to be honest with myself. I COULD take that mirror off the wall but there is a strange beauty in knowing the truth. In being able to look at yourself wearing a dad’s army hat with your greying temples and your wrinkles waving back at you (are those frown lines?!) and STILL be happy with yourself. When you can accept that you look like a bag lady/man and can still be happy with your lot who can burst your bubble? Honestly? 🙂

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These two could care less that I look like a bag lady/man, all they want is a W.A.L.K. STAT!

I had best head off and make myself some breakfast. I am STILL PROCRASTINATING. It’s 8.52am and the sun is shining and the sky is blue and I am SO tempted to just head out into the veggie garden and shovel that whole trailer load of horse manure into wheelbarrows and ferry it back and forth and make a new garden bed but I promised myself that I would finish off my swatch sticking today and a promise is a promise, even if it is only to yourself. Wish me luck folks…I am going in!

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Another batch of Friday calzones gets made. Here they are in all of their raw glory. Note the coloured flecks in the dough. That’s because I add dried Italian mixed herbs, chilli and Parmesan cheese to the dough to make them extra tasty

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This is what they look like cooked…and sideways…that’s what happens when you ask your impatient husband to re-size an image for you. Technically he did re-size it, just didn’t turn it 😉

I did it! It took me over a week of procrastination but it’s done and dusted now. Finito…until the next study thing that I have to procrastinate about. Why am I procrastinating? Because I reckon I can’t justify the waste of paper, time and energy spent sticking little bits of coloured paper onto more paper for absolutely nothing. It’s not like I am learning much about colours, I learned most of what I know back in kindergarten, but it’s the complete waste of time and energy doing something that means absolutely NOTHING to me that makes me want to roll my socks, move the furniture and take up the drink. Steve is the most creative out of the two of us and he proved it yesterday when he took his paint swatches and cut them out into shapes. We had to do a “mood board” of “Our Lifestyle”.  I just took colours and stuck them together in clumps to represent things like “river and soil and sun and sky” and “the colours of our dogs and our water tank and my optimism (which is apparently butter yellow according to the swatch)” etc. but Stevie-boy knocked it out of the ballpark. There are little green wine bottles and small brown beer bottles and the mumbly cumumbus and his river has layers of colour and looks like ripples…clever bollocks! 😉

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I took a few photos of the duck because I am a sentimental old duck myself. As you can see she has a problem standing up

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That didn’t stop her from dragging herself more quickly than I can run into the agapanthus

Well the sticking is finished but now I am up to my dry eyeballs in research. I mean who needs to know how the flash in their camera works for goodness sake! Me apparently… anyhoo, after this we are getting onto the meaty stuff…more design culminating in making a booklet and THAT is where narf7 sits up and takes notice…”Booklet you say eh?” yup…booklet. I am quaffing booch in order to keep me awake. It keeps me awake by igniting my need to run at regular intervals to the loo. The house is lovely and toasty warm thanks to Brunhilda and her ability to convert her food into latent heat. Bezial has been lulled into somnolence but Earl is sitting next to me beseeching me to feed him. No point even trying till Bezial could be bothered to wake up so I have one asleep and one sulking. You are never child free when you have dogs

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On the floor in the car just before I handed her over. The bag was to stop her from getting scared but she certainly doesn’t look scared

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“Goodbye duck”… even if she was euthanised her sacrifice might mean that her brothers and sisters get liberated. I feel like I am in Le Miserable!

Well the weather has certainly changed. So I should have, we are in the last month of autumn. This morning I walked Earl in 0C temperatures and we headed over the Batman bridge at a fast trot in order to maintain our body temperatures and not succumb to hypothermia. I haven’t been over the bridge since I last took grain over for the chickens that had been dumped in the park on the other side of the river and found the mother chicken had been killed by a quoll. I took some grain today just in case any of her babies were still there and looking down from the bridge I did see some small dark shapes running around but they might have been swamp hens. When we got to the park Earl stopped dragging and started insisting. Insisting is fast dragging by the way, just sos you know… I skated behind him down the steep descent and managed to pull him sideways into the car park and bbq area where I thought I might have seen those small chooks. Whether I did or not, at least the swamp hens could have some grain. As I was tipping it out around the rubbish bins (as that is obviously where they would check on a regular basis) I caught something large moving around in the undergrowth out of the corner of my eye. I moved over to the other rubbish bin that was a bit closer to the area that the movement had been and peered (myopically) into the shrubbery and realised that I was looking into the beak of a large peacock! At least something will eat that grain!

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Jan (in the blue) and Kim (the other one) who I attempted to show how to blog to the other day. We had a lovely afternoon and although Kims blog was up and running and raring to go in about 15 minutes, Jan’s was a bit more trouble but we sorted it all out in the end and everyone can now blog to their hearts content

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Kim blogging to her hearts content…Jan…not so much…

I just squealed on someone. Aussies don’t do “squeal” lightly…again…just sos you know. But this man deserved a very loud squeal and a half. He lives up behind our property and keeps poultry. He has taken to not feeding his chooks and ducks and they have been wandering around in search of food and getting killed on the roads. I was walking back on Monday with Earl from our early morning walk and noticed a duck on the side of the road. I was surprised because I thought that they had all been killed off but no, there was a duck but it looked like it, too, had been hit by a car as it couldn’t stand up. I knew that I couldn’t do anything with Earl with me so I raced home and deposited Earl on the deck and drove back up to where I had seen the duck with a cardboard box and an old cloth to cover the duck. If it had been hit I was going to bring it home and if it died at least it would die on Serendipity Farm with a nice view surrounded by chooks, not on the side of the road. I pulled over (should have checked my rear view mirror as the school bus almost hit me 😉 ) and headed over to pick up the duck and it bit me. A good sign, as that means it still has some chutzpah left. A good duck needs it’s chutzpah.

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Kims wonderful locally made little wood fire. It was made 18km away in Exeter. Can’t get more community supportive than that. If I had known that we HAD a fireplace maker here in Tassie, let alone in Exeter, I may not have purchased Brunhilda. This lovely fire has a very large pizza type oven at the top and is gloriously good at warming Kims gorgeous eco home

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I am dead jel. Kim has a wonderful composting loo! It has 6 chambers underneath and by the time it has finished it’s cycle (takes about 2 months) they end up with wonderful compost that they can use in their garden.

After noticing that the duck couldn’t walk I picked it up and was shocked to note that it weight nothing. It was like picking up a skeleton with feathers. The poor thing was starving! I brought it back home and deposited it in our outdoor enclosure. None of our lot are in there at the moment as they are all free ranging and giving Frank apoplexy with their crowing so I put lots of straw and food and water near a stand of agapanthus and the duck moved in. That night I was worried about it so I put lots of hay into Earls carry case (that he arrived in Tasmania in from South Australia where we bought him from) and deposited the angry duck (anger, like chutzpah is also a good sign in a duck) into the cage where it settled down. I didn’t think that it would last the night but it did and the next morning I made up my mind to report this man to our animal welfare society for animal cruelty.

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Who needs a moth eaten sock under the bed Brunhilda needs her gustatory platter and this time, it was delivered right to the top of our driveway. I LOVE you Mr wood delivery man (just so he knows 😉 )

After I had reported him an officer came to take the duck. They needed to take it to the vet to check it out and to see if there was a case against the man. When the officer picked the duck up to place it into a carrier she remarked about how light it was and how unhealthy it was. When people take on the responsibility for animals they need to be aware that the word “responsible” is the key here. If you can’t afford (or just plain don’t want) to feed your animals or care for them then DON’T GET ANIMALS! People have been rumbling about complaining about this situation for about a year now. He used to have a lot of ducks. I think that the poor emaciated duck that headed off with the animal welfare officer yesterday may just have been the last. All the rest of them have been killed on the road. Some people just shouldn’t be allowed to have animals…ever.

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This is what real love looks like. Real love is when someone is walking up the driveway after checking the mail and sees a flower on a shrub and decides that he is going to pick it and give it to his wife because he wants to make her happy. Guess what Stevie-boy, I am going to let you off your past transgressions for this 🙂

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This is what real love looks like on steroids. When a man goes into a shop full of women and stands in front of a large collection of wool in order to buy his wife 10 balls so that she can “make something” as he knows that she loves to be creative and even though he is INCREDIBLY impatient, he has been shopping all morning and is completely OVER the city he stopped off to buy me some wool because he knew that it would make me happy. Now THAT is real love. None of that mushy stuff with chocolates (can’t eat them) and roses (can’t eat them) and fluffy kitties (Earl eats them) and such, no THIS is what love is down at the coal face where 2 imperfect people learn how to tap-dance around each other for the rest of their lives without killing each other and slowly learning just how amazing it can be to hold someone elses heart in the palm of your hand (and that ISN’T the end result of me watching too much Crime Channel…)

So here I am back to having 1 duck who thinks that it is a chook. I thought that I might be able to train her back into duckanese but apparently not. Even if the poor emaciated girl doesn’t get put down (:( ) she will be taken to a foster home for ducks. Not entirely sure what a foster home for ducks is but anything is better than where she was. The dogs just had their dinner (I was like a stealth ninja, you didn’t even realise that I had gone did you) and I think I might put this edition to bed now folks. I am thinking that tonight might be a good night to create something scrumptious for Stevie-boy who has been an absolute trouper about chopping wood when I have been doing my level best to burn it all as fast as he chops it. From the blog posts that I have been reading lately it would seem that we are all in winter now. Most of my northern readers are complaining about cold, rain and even snow and we are revelling in frost and the joys of dripping noses. I guess that means that we can all have a HUGE communal worldwide weenie roast! I bags the vego weenies…