When someone else’s memories cost you 22 dollars


The first garage sale house of the day , isn’t that a lovely maple

Hi All,

Fran is very busy today so I am posting the photos and captions for them ok so its my fault not hers 🙂

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Garage sale dogs like junk yard dogs but they are after the junk 🙂

What is it about “artefacts” that makes us curious and want to fossick around? It’s the same thing that has us wanting to pull up the collective psychiatrists couch whenever people reminisce and say “tell us more…” Today’s post is all about “What I got at The Progressive Garage Sale” a small thesis of less than (I PROMISE) 2800 words but my introduction is about the value of collective memories and how important they are to society as a whole (and that, I am reserving for my REAL thesis! 😉 ). I got a memo that my sister Pinky of http://cathyandchucky.com/ blogging fame had posted another post. I love using an RSS Feed Reader; it does all the hard work for me and keeps my email account free of post reminders. In her latest post she shared a magnificent chunky lamb shank soup that she has been making for many years. I remember the torn out page from the Australian woman’s weekly magazine that she took the recipe from being carefully folded up and covered in indeterminate stains. I wrote the recipe out myself because this soup is a winner. The mug that she used for her soup was one of the enormous mugs that I used for my (buckets) cups of tea while we chatted. Pictures and “things” are what memories are made of.


This is where we bought our computer throne from a few years ago (see past posts)

In saying that, I just bought a stack of past and future “memories”.  I paid $22 Aussie dollars for a whole stack of other people’s memories that I can only begin to wonder about. Our adventure began a few weeks ago when we remembered that pretty soon the annual progressive garage sale would be upon us for another year. We stumbled across the very first on 2 years ago when we were heading out to walk the dogs. If it wasn’t for the very first progressive garage sale, we wouldn’t have Big Yin and his original cohorts. We bought them as teeny little chicks and today they are the equivalent of Somalian pirates on Serendipity Farm…no sooner do you set foot outside the safety of your back gate and attempt to navigate the high seas of Serendipity Farm then you are set upon by wayfaring pirates attempting to rob you of everything of worth. The first year we spent a fair bit at the progressive garage sale. There were lots of vendors and plenty of bargains to be had and our chooks (8 in all) added to the cost. Last year we spent $27 and ended up with a higgledy piggledy mass of “stuff” to delight my hoarding heart. This year we spend $22 and despite the few vendors who had decided to take part we were still able to arrive back home laden with goodies


Fran caught unawares by my lens 🙂

We had contacted the lovely Lisa of obvious Scottish heritage who runs the Artisan gallery and who appears to be the poor lost soul that got stuck with organising this massive event each year. Last year she had a list of garage sales that you could print out and head directly to with a short list of what they were offering. This year she was a bit savvier and only gave the list out on Friday evening. The problem is that here in Tassie we have more than our fair share of “traders”…markets, antique sellers and general EBay vultures who like to predate garage sales, auctions and house clearance sales with a view to robbing them blind and making the maximum profit. They descend on garage sales 2 hours before the assigned time and try to get the very best for the very cheapest. Vendors are sick to death of them but they are like seagulls at the tip, unfortunately inevitable.


What a lovely garden this is in autumn

This year, a group of local Kayena dwellers decided to tag onto the end of the garage sale and we headed up to check it out. I managed to get an Italian glass litre wine carafe for $1 that I am now using for my homemade non-dairy milk. I also bought a stainless steel teapot/jug, a copy of a wonderful Permaculture book and a 1971 “Mrs Beeton’s cookbook in colour” for 50c each. I noticed a stone bottle that now lives in Steve’s room for $1 and I got about 10kg of various types of apples for $3. All in all a very good start to the day. I decided that if we didn’t get anything else in the entire garage sale, this one stop was worth driving to. Aside from getting some great bargains, we met the man that bought my brothers property over in Kayena and who owns the local school bus route. He and his wife are very nice people and he told me that whenever I fancy some horse or cow manure, I just had to call and he would let me collect as much as I like! Considering this man owns most of the farmland in Sidmouth, Rowella and Kayena (along with a share in the local dairy) I figure the supply might just be big enough for my aspirations! ;). Apparently the vultures had turned up to this garage sale at 7.30…sigh…


This is all the house the chair came from , its nice eh

We continued on to the next garage sale at Iron Pot Bay winery. We arrived at 8.55am and slowly walked down the driveway to be met by an irate elderly man who told us in no uncertain terms to “PISS OFF!” We thought that he was joking at first, but after he told us that “This bloody garage sale doesn’t start till 9am!” and I said “Ok…so we will just wait here then…” and he said “no you bloody well won’t! You can head right back up that driveway quick smart!”…O…K…SOMEONE woke up on the wrong side of the bed! I dare say the vultures had been predating since 7am and this elderly gentleman had just about had enough! Steve wasn’t in the mood to be garage saling at this residence after our less than lukewarm welcome so we headed off to the next stop post haste!


not sure why the time is this but it must mean something to the owners

We arrived at the next garage sale (after checking that it was AFTER 9am…fool us once! 😉 ) where we got my blackwood throne (my computer chair) for $2 last year and managed to score a large cray pot for $5 and a wonderful wrought iron old single bed head for $2. We couldn’t take them with us because we had the dogs with us (they were “supposedly” behaving and we would take them to the beach as a reward for all of the stops…) and so I waved goodbye to my bargains and Steve was going to head back to pick them up after dropping us at home after we had finished garage saling and walking the dogs. The rest of the garage sales seemed to be condensed into a single neighbourhood and we walked to most of them. I could hear a grumpy man armed with what must have been most of the garage sale that we were heading to saying to his wife “she TOLD me I could have it for $5!”… It would seem that the antique brass plaque that he was toting might have cost him a teensy bit more? Oh how TERRIBLE sir? 😉


Liquid ambers at there best

I was more interested in taking photos of the delicious autumn colours than I was in hunting. I was already more than happy with the bargains that we had bought and by the time we arrived at the Deviot Hall we met Jenny, our friend from the bush who had just found a small folding table and 2 enormous wisteria poles for a bargain price. She was going one way…we were going the other and so we headed off to see what was still on offer at either end of the spectrum. After finding a few more small bargains including a nice stainless steel “Coffee” canister that now contains my tea-bags (tea thieves beware!) we headed off to the beach much to the relief of Earl and Bezial who were WELL over our ridiculous need to stop and start every 5 minutes when it was more than obvious we were headed to “THE BEACH!”


Pretty house isn’t it

By the time we got to said beach, the dogs were overexcited and practically jumped into the front with us before we stopped the car. We had a lovely “drag” around Paper Beach and I collected some lovely smooth beach pebbles. We might not have lovely white sand like the beaches in Western Australia (or the East coast of Tassie for that matter…) but what we lack in pristine white, we make up for in gorgeous smooth pebbles and rocks. Swings and roundabouts…  I have been surreptitiously collecting the odd pebble here and there whenever we walk on the beach and put them in my potted plants and dot them around our home. I am a quintessential reformed pack rat who has a need to collect. I try to give away as much as I collect now to redress the balance quotient but the need is still strong in this (not so) young padawan.


Wish our drive was like this oh and that’s our cray pot in the shot 😉

We arrived home triumphant and while I took photos and then put our bargains to work for us Steve headed back to pick up our craypot and bed head. The craypot is not situated on our deck stairs and the bedhead is going to become an ornate gate down in the garden dividing one secret garden from the next. The only thing that hasn’t quite found a place to live yet is a small watercolour painting that I picked up for $2. I just liked it. Someone had gifted this original artwork to someone else and it has an inscription on the back…more memories that obviously weren’t all that important any more. Time to create some new memories with my bargains and take them off on another tangent on Serendipity Farm and as most of them won’t be being used for the purpose for which they were created; at least they will get a second chance in the great memories sweepstakes


colours of nature are so bright

It’s raining on Serendipity Farm. Nothing unexpected about rain in autumn but this is our first real rainy day in ages and it came smack bang on the day that we were all going to head into the city to accomplish an amazing array of “stuff”…does anyone else get the feeling that someone out there has a great sense of humour? ;). The dogs are now sulking because they were expecting to go to town and have a ball and I am sulking because “I” was expecting to go to town and have a ball but in the end, the trailer got disconnected and poor Steve had to go to town and do everything himself. There are benefits in that he will be back a good 3 hours before we would have otherwise been back and when he gets in, I can take over putting things away, unloading groceries and dividing up the dogs meat into meal sized portions for the freezer. As carbon savvy consumers we tend not to use our car much these days. We walk the dogs locally most of the time and only use the car if we need to go further afield than our 2 feet are willing to take us. A 100km round trip is out of the question and so sulking dogs and a less than impressed “Fran” remain at home.


More hunters

Steve will be pricing up timber for making 2 custom low seating units either side of Brunhilda. We don’t want to waste space and are designing wood storage into these units. They will be predominately for the dogs to use as beds over winter but will be great for stretching out and reading a book on our cold days. This rain might have forced me indoors but it is also soaking the rock hard soil where we need to dig holes and will make our job tomorrow a whole lot easier. Steve and I have trepidations about digging holes on Serendipity Farm. We know, from past experience, that digging a “hole” is a whole lot harder than it might initially sound. Our soil is littered with rocks of various sizes and 20cm down we have solid yellow clay that you could make pots out of. It’s probably what has kept us on track with our studies…we had 2 choices…”study” or “dig a hole”…studying won! ;). We can’t put it off any longer and as founding members of the Serendipity Farm procrastinators society we have both agreed (after a few cups of tea, hanging a load of washing out, baking some biscuits and tinkering around in the shed…) to get stuck into digging some holes. Once the holes are dug it will be somewhat smooth sailing, it’s just the digging of the holes that has us twitching.


Apparently these people camped out in anticipation lol

I have 35 photos to share with you all today so I might just leave this post a little shorter than usual. I am going to head off now and do something positive with the rest of my morning before Steve gets back home. I might do some dusting…the spiders have been getting cheeky lately and I think it is time to remind them that we have a mutual agreement…I let them eat our flies and they keep their webs to the corners of the room…I noticed one festooned across the ceiling yesterday so time to make the advancing hoards retreat! See you all on Wednesday folks :o)


Some spoils of the hunt


Treasure and some nice apples


22$ can go a long way


Ahh crays ahead


This will become a gate one day soon


Apparently I like pot ….


Finally finished and Bezials happy


A very pretty vine on our way to the beach


Beach stones Fran loves stones

Sunday bloody hot Sunday


Hi All,


Sorry about that Bono…please don’t sue me…I am one of the repressed of the earth that you are trying to support remember? In fact…can I please come and stay with you and your wife for a bit? I promise I won’t stare too much at Salmon Rushdie…

I definitely think that Mary Anne Schaffer liked a good romance novel. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin is right up there with the best of them. I wonder how many more romance novels I will be reading from her list. I now need to order 2 more books from the list as I am onto my last book from my last hold session. I like to give them time to get my book from its hiding place somewhere in Tasmania. I have had books from all over the place and the last one was provided by “The friends of the Burnie library”. Cheers friends, I feel like I know you now that I have read that most excellent book “The Angle of Repose” and perhaps the Burnie library would not have been able to provide me with that most illustrious (albeit teeny tiny printed) copy of this wonderful read. I just had a quick flick through the list and realised that there is at least 1 other book by Wallace Stegner on her list. I will be most interested to see how Mr Stegner treats his own material as I found out that he used some letters written by a “Lady of the Wild West” (sorry, can’t be bothered to research who…) as the basis for The Angle of Repose. I just ordered 2 more books. Atticus and a most curiously named novel called “Flaubert’s parrot”. On reading the titles of the remaining books on the list I am getting a definite “romantic” lien from Mary Anne. Through the well written books that are unfolding from Mary Anne’s list I am starting to appreciate that all romance novels are not the same. I will keep you posted on my findings but The Angle of Repose has done a whole lot to showing me that a well written book can be forgiven a multitude of theme sins. I am even reading westerns!


This is the grafted marshmallow apple that Steve produced from the mass of potted plants outside the fence


This is an older picture taken a few years ago at the Tasmanian Botanic Gardens. This specimen is a lovely young Pinus coulteri and we found an enormous pinecone underneath it that we took home and got seed from and actually grew a few last year. Nature is just waiting for scavengers to spread its seeds and we are happy to play the part of conifer scavengers whenever something as lovely as this wants to take advantage of our natural desire to collect


These next 2 photos were found on one of our external hard drives when we were searching for pictures of mums garden. They are dark but it was a very dark rainy day and it was the only day (the Troll’s day out) in the fortnight that we could throw ourselves into digging up the lawn, getting our blue metal delivered and barrowing it all in to the back of the house and getting it laid on top of some weed matting (porous) and settling a few pavers into the top. As you can see it was wet, we got rained on the whole time but we did it! We had no sooner put our wheelbarrows away when the troll’s taxi turned up…


Within a couple of weeks we had the 3 metre bamboo fence constructed and we had a modicum of privacy but this bit of hard slog that took some serious team effort to achieve gave us a huge sense of satisfaction as well as a real sense that we were just about to regain a little bit of control over our own privacy and the situation that we were living in.


Is anyone else totally OVER this stupid leadership challenge? It really isn’t like any one of us is able to vote or have our say on it so why should be we constantly harangued by newscasts about it every 5 seconds? Even when they stop the squabbling and reassemble the shambolic remains of their tattered dignity and our shredded “trust” in the labour party, their need to look after their own wants have allowed them to drag the labour party down to the bottom of the harbour. Tony Abbot must be waking up every morning with a massive great smile on his face because the labour party have just handed him the Prime ministership and most probably earlier than he would have ever dreamed it. Touché Mr Abbot! Enough said about politicians, they are leaving me feeling wan and ill and totally frustrated by my inability to be able to steer myself through this mire. I would rather focus on things that can help us in the future like food production and sorting out Serendipity Farm so that we can start planting out our edible food forest. I just got a look at some permaculture aficionado’s in Queensland who are going great guns on creating their very own edible food forest. How I envy them their growth rate, their lush foliage, their tropical fruits and nuts and especially their lack of rocks in the soil. Serendipity Farm will be turned over to perennial self-perpetuation and will one day become the food forest that we are aiming for but we really need to find some solutions for the problems that we are encountering. I would love to dig and use swales as a means of retaining the water that flows downhill whenever we have any significant rain. At some time in the past, Serendipity Farm and all of the surrounding district was subject to volcanic activity. The soil is full of rocks and to gain any sort of benefit from swales we really need to find a way to implement them. The soil is heavy clay which is fine so long as we are able to integrate organic matter into the soil and break up its overly heavy construction but with the simple act of digging pretty much out of the equation, we have to find other ways to get organic matter into the soil and our friends the earthworms come to the foreground as our chief allies in this cause. Our hens are depositing nitrogen rich fertiliser all over Serendipity Farm. The previously nutrient starved shrubs and trees are starting to show signs of appreciation for the weed removal and fertilisation of their immediate surrounds and now we just have to mulch, remove weeds and work out how to do what we want to do. We just found out that we can sign up for our new Diploma course next week so we will be throwing ourselves headlong into this course in an effort to both give ourselves the skills that this course encompasses and to give us a focus and motivation to get stuck back into the garden. Saying that, we are NOT going to be in the garden today! There is a state-wide fire ban because it’s so darned hot and Tasmania, thanks to 2 years of incredible rains and mild temperatures is like a tinderbox waiting for a spark to make it just like Chinese New Year. There have been some terrible and tragic past bushfires in Tasmania and no-one wants to see that kind of result again so that is why we are very careful to ensure that we remove as much of the dead grass (we leave it on the surface of the soil as mulch) via whipper snippers as possible to minimise the risk of bushfire. I was a bit miffed that I wasn’t able to access the units in this Diploma of Landscape Design that dealt with permaculture. The Diploma offers the units but you have to have someone trained in permaculture to deliver them. Our lecturer lives in a mud brick house that he built himself but I think that is the extent of his desire to embrace permaculture principals and so those units are not able to be accesses. I may have to pay to train in permaculture one day in the future but for now that isn’t an option. Steve’s course is paid for this year and it has really been a weight off our shoulders. We are really looking forwards to what we are going to learn from this course which should stand us in good stead for heading off to University the year after we finish this course in our endeavour’s to become Landscape Architects. Who knows where this line of study will take us, but for now, we are learning so that we can implement what we learn here on Serendipity Farm.


We bought this mulcher just before we laid that blue metal above and spent a day pruning and mulching all of the overgrown shrubs and tree branches that had been going wild out the back while we were unable to deal with them. Each fortnight we got a single day (the Troll’s shopping day from 10am – 4pm) where we could get out the back and scamper around like crazy voles digging things up, pruning, digging holes and concreting in fence palings, putting up screening etc. Our ideas didn’t always go down well with dad and NEVER went down well with the Troll as what had been his domain shrunk down to his immediate area and the small garden that we built for him (that he never cared for at all). It was, as mentioned, a very difficult situation to be living in but we were living rent free so sometimes you have to just suck it up and live with it!


We always had a constant little helper out the back whenever there was work in the offing. Bezial hated change and would lay inside refusing to even look until the job was done and he would scornfully wander around outside giving us (low) marks out of 10, but Qi loved to be right in the thick of it and was always Steve’s constant little helper. Here she is liberating the house from the soil apparently…


I spent most of the latter parts of yesterday (Saturday) sifting through photographs of mum’s garden and trying to find photos of past gardens and the stages of development of her garden at her small unit. When she died my sister and her partner Jason headed over to her unit to take lots of photos of the garden for me as requested by Annie of “The Micro Gardener” fame who had been talking with mum prior to her death about writing up her story for Annie’s online publication called “The Green Journey”. After mum died, Annie asked me to collect as many photos as I could to illustrate her garden and what she was doing with such a small space. Mum used vertical gardening principals including hanging baskets, espalier fruit trees and trellises as well as pots, raised garden beds and stands to give her the maximum space in her small garden. Annie wanted to show her readers that you really don’t need an huge amount of space to feed yourself. You can be a Micro Gardener with an area that you would not think production of fruit and vegetables were even possible. Mum used solutions to her problems to give her what she wanted in her garden. Using things like dwarf fruit trees, mini species of watermelons and rockmelons, espalier regular sized fruit trees that lined her perimeter fence and mass planting to develop thermal mass, mum was able to grow an enormous amount of food in a very small space. I went to have a look at The Green Journey and was most impressed with Annie’s treatment of her subjects. Mum would have been “chuffed to bits” to be held aloft with some of the amazing gardeners on this site. I wanted to make sure that her garden was truly represented in photographs to illustrate how inventive mum had been and how she went about building up her plant mass using thrifty techniques like taking root and stem cuttings and saving seed. The more I looked at the bumper crops of the most amazing looking fruit and vegetables that mum was able to coax from that small space the more determined I am to throw myself into learning how to grow vegetables. As previously mentioned, mum (and my brother after her) was a natural gardener. It came as naturally to mum as breathing but for me (and probably my sister if the truth be known) it is something that has to be pored over, thought about at length and worked at. Anyone can build a garden bed, but not just anyone can fill it with the right ingredients to facilitate the best growth of the plants that grow in this garden bed. There is so much to learn about vegetables. Even though we previously had a good veggie garden in town, the vegetables that grew the best did so on their own merit. We gave them water, manure and enough sunlight to grow and they did the rest. We had a lot of problems with this first garden including problems with the corn that we grew, our brassica’s were a total failure and we didn’t do too well on the spring onion front which made my father grumble because he was all for us planting a regular supply of these vegetables (his favourite) and kept giving us packets of spring onion seed in the hope that we would “keep him” in spring onions for years to come. Our veggie gardens that we built after mum died are rotting down nicely. We are due to top them up with manure, hay and our compost heap that has finally yielded some lovely dark rich compost that the hens and possums were not able to scoff. Steve found one of the grafted apples that we produced as part of our Certificate 3 in Horticulture course when he was turning on the overhead watering system. I must admit to loving this system. At first I thought that it would be a huge waste of water but it has proved me wrong. The wrens, Willy wag tails and other small insectivorous birds are ecstatic about this new tight rope that they are able to perch on and survey the plants for insect infestation. They sit up on the elevated system and can be seen diving down into the plants to retrieve aphids, bugs and caterpillars that have the misfortune of invading our potted plants. The apple that Steve retrieved had 2 small apples on it. Steve got the scion for this graft from home of the very first Governor of Tasmania who was apparently great friends with Joseph Banks and who was purported to have given the Governor interesting plant specimens to grow on the property. There are some interesting oak species and a heritage listed Cedrus atlantica on the property as well as a most interesting apple. The apple is old and wizened and most probably one of the old fashioned varieties that would have once been eaten prior to mass production. This apple was nicknamed “The marshmallow apple” by the new property owners who inherited it from their parents. The resulting fruit is soft and spongy but totally delicious thus the marshmallow tag. Steve wanted to reproduce this apple and so took some scion and grafted it with success and now we have our very own “Marshmallow Apple”. No idea what kind of apple it is, but you can bet we won’t be seeing it any day soon on the shelves at Woollies’.

Magnetic Knife rack and new window ledge

These last few photos are of when we first redecorated the house in town. The girls had been in Western Australia visiting their brother and father and so we took the opportunity to really get stuck in and totally renovate the house. I don’t recommend this sort of stress to anyone…we were tired constantly, we lived in a caravan out the back in the middle of winter and we were up early in the dark and dragged our poor sorry derrières off to bed as late as we could leave it but we were happy with the results and I guess that is all you can hope to be at the end of the day


We used to go to the markets just about every week and I started to collect this terracotta ware. I had all sorts of it (and still have a lot) and started to use it to decorate the house along with white and blue ceramics which are my absolute favourites

New colour scheme in situ

Here are some of my Terry Pratchett novels. I loved every one of them. Most of the decorations that we put in the house we purchased at markets and garage sales extremely cheaply. I very rarely went over $5 for anything unless it was particularly special. That little book shelf was on its way to the tip when I got it from a friend who couldn’t sell it at a garage sale she was having

Computer area with new colour scheme

This was our work station in town. We no longer have that computer or most of the “stuff” on those shelves. Serendipity Farm has been pared back to a few things that suit our rustic ideals. I can be a bit of a pack rat with things like glass, bowls, and anything ethnic and interesting and I have to curb my natural desire to head off to every garage sale that I see. Garage sales are amazing places to pick up things that you might not find anywhere else but they certainly don’t provide you with more space in your home to display these things so I am learning to “put blinkers on” (one of my grandmothers and then mum’s sayings) for the sake of a simple non dust collecting life


Here’s our work station today. A much bigger screen and a heck of a lot messier but I didn’t tidy it off today like I tidied it off for that shot in the last photo. This is my year of living honestly and this is honestly what it looks like on a regular basis! Note there is still an enormous cup of tea sitting on the desk…the cup might change but the beverage remains the same


Here is the last photo for the day and our latest garage sale buy. A little wooden bowl carved out of a burl or a medium branch for $2. We pick up little bits and pieces like this all of the time and will continue to do so. Pretty soon the large progressive garage sale that runs from Deviot through to Gravelly Beach will be on again. We picked up a lovely hand made chair last year for $2. I wonder if we can top that one?


So I guess that’s your bloomin’ lot for today folks…it’s too hot for me to be sitting sweltering in a leather office chair even for your most illustrious benefits so I am off to pour ice water on my head and find a screen saver and some wallpaper of the icy wastelands of Siberia because I am all for trying to trick my brain into thinking that it is someplace cool. Now I just have to suspend my sense of disbelief…see you all tomorrow when we are supposedly getting a nice cool change.