Earl turns 4, Three wise herons and learning to appreciate snotty oysters

Hi All,

Late last week I could have cheerfully had my little brother neutered and sent off to obedience class. Alas, this is WAY beyond the scope of my rights as a big sister (watch out Earl!) Instead I ended up having an (shall we say, for the want of a better word…) “interesting” conversation on Facebook with him which culminated in him badgering me to unfriend him. I just noticed that spellchecker has no problem with the word “unfriend”. I, on the other hand, do. You can’t just “unfriend” someone who has, for the last 46 years of your life been part and parcel of the rough and tumble of your existence. That old saying “you can choose your friends but you (are stuck with) can’t choose your family has never been more poignant. If you are reading this Jamie, “keep reading!”…so where was I, AH that’s right, halfway between “neutering” and “sending off to obedience school”…so this delightful situation that we found ourselves in wasn’t just a spat between brother and sister, this time it was between all three siblings and it had been brewing on the back burner for quite some time.

Story of my life, ever cautious ;)

Story of my life, ever cautious 😉

 

Steve's little mate "Wall-e-bee" helping us deal with the sow thistle problem on Serendipity Farm "EAT FASTER!" ;)

Steve’s little mate “Wall-e-bee” helping us deal with the sow thistle problem on Serendipity Farm “EAT FASTER!” 😉

Our friend Jenny grew globe artichokes just because she could. She doesn't actually like them so guess who got the chokes!

Our friend Jenny grew globe artichokes just because she could. She doesn’t actually like them so guess who got the chokes!

Christmas marinated artichoke heart futures :)

Christmas marinated artichoke heart futures 🙂

Things like that you don’t take to Facebook so why did we? Because we are first and foremost “Stahl’s” and we tend to think with our outrageous indignation and it is only when we retreat to lick our wounds that a little light bulb comes on in our heads that says “er…maybe I could have moderated that a bit better.” I only mention this because some of my dear constant readers (you know who you are) are also Facebook friends so you may have been privy to said “spat”. My sister, who has a more genteel constitution than myself unfriended him but I have the hide of a hippo (and the bum but we won’t expand on that here and now) and as we all know, the predominately vegan hippo kills more people in Africa than the macho carnivorous lion. Wise words to ponder over folks… wise words INDEED.

Jenny and I and her grandson Dylan went to Red Dragon nursery last Thursday. I would love to share some photos that I took of this beautiful place. The plants are amazing, unusual and the owner is my favourite horticultural nutcase. You rock Andrew ;)

Jenny and I and her grandson Dylan went to Red Dragon nursery last Thursday. I would love to share some photos that I took of this beautiful place. The plants are amazing, unusual and the owner is my favourite horticultural nutcase. You rock Andrew 😉

This magnificent cloud pruned conifer was cloud pruned by Steve and I back in 1010 when we did some work experience for Andrew at Red Dragon  Nursery.

This magnificent cloud pruned conifer was cloud pruned by Steve and I back in 1010 when we did some work experience for Andrew at Red Dragon Nursery.

Steve and I love this place

Steve and I love this place

Jenny's (first) cart full of plants, mine are on the wall behind the cart

Jenny’s (first) cart full of plants, mine are on the wall behind the cart

This place gives "garden rooms" a whole new meaning as each turn, path, side track delivers you to another little section of gorgeousness to peruse, ponder and purchase if you see fit :)

This place gives “garden rooms” a whole new meaning as each turn, path, side track delivers you to another little section of gorgeousness to peruse, ponder and purchase if you see fit 🙂

I adore Zenobia's but my specimen died. This one is well and truly alive and flowering to boot

I adore Zenobia’s but my specimen died. This one is well and truly alive and flowering to boot

Andrew is most proud of his selection of very large leafed rhododendrons. He even gave me the name of this one to share with you all. This is very hard to get and is Rhododendron sinogrande with leaves that reach 780cm. What a magnificent beast!

Andrew is most proud of his selection of very large leafed rhododendrons. He even gave me the name of this one to share with you all. This is very hard to get and is Rhododendron sinogrande with leaves that reach 78cm. What a magnificent beast!

More of those beautiful rocks (with a protective hand...he knows my magpie tendencies ;) )

More of those beautiful rocks (with a protective hand…he knows my magpie tendencies 😉 )

The exit to the nursery

The exit to the nursery

Part of the outside grounds where examples of the trees and shrubs for sale have been planted so that people can see what they will look like in a garden situation

Part of the outside grounds where examples of the trees and shrubs for sale have been planted so that people can see what they will look like in a garden situation

More of the outside garden. Aren't these conifers gorgeous?

More of the outside garden. Aren’t these conifers gorgeous?

I adore this golden bamboo. Jenny bought herself a large pot of black bamboo. We have seen these bamboos in other nursery's for $120 but at Andrew's this very healthy specimen was a mere $32 (and that was expensive!) Jenny has promised me some when it starts to shoot :)

I adore this golden bamboo. Jenny bought herself a large pot of black bamboo. We have seen these bamboos in other nursery’s for $120 but at Andrew’s this very healthy specimen was a mere $32 (and that was expensive!) Jenny has promised me some when it starts to shoot 🙂

After all of the bru-ha-ha had settled down a most magical thing happened. My testosterone fuelled, angst ridden, outrageously indignant brother who thinks with his sharp pointed finger and who holds onto his anger with a furious dignity that could be admired if it wasn’t so very infuriating, apologised to me. He may have deleted most of the more incriminating parts of said post but he apologised. I am thinking that much like Mr Rudyard Kipling’s most glorious ode of father to son masculinity “If” , my little brother has become a “man”. There comes a time in your life where being right is less important than being part of a small but most stalwart collective of bunched up and twitching outrageous nervous energy or as mainstream humanity would call it, part of a “family”. You are part of my family Jamie. You always will be. Whether you choose to flail about and sustain collateral damage (hippos think with their mouths…) is up to you, but I love you and you will always be in my heart.

The little building here is the nursery office. Andrew, Steve and I share a passion for cold climate shrubs and trees that bonded us all from the start

The little building here is the nursery office. Andrew, Steve and I share a passion for cold climate shrubs and trees that bonded us all from the start

Andrew also shares a passion for the beautiful rocks that can be found on beaches all around the shorelines of Tasmania.

Andrew also shares a passion for the beautiful rocks that can be found on beaches all around the shorelines of Tasmania.

2 lovely maples side by side

2 lovely maples side by side

Loveliness

Loveliness

More loveliness

More loveliness

Everywhere you look there is something beautiful to delight your eye. My photos don't do this wonderful place justice.

Everywhere you look there is something beautiful to delight your eye. My photos don’t do this wonderful place justice.

:)

🙂

The entrance/exit

The entrance/exit

Even the trolley bay is pretty

Even the trolley bay is pretty

Red Dragon Nursery specialises in rare and hard to get rhododendrons and azaleas. This is a rhododendron but I certainly wouldn't have picked it as such

Red Dragon Nursery specialises in rare and hard to get rhododendrons and azaleas. This is a rhododendron but I certainly wouldn’t have picked it as such

This azalea appears to have a split personality ;)

This azalea appears to have a split personality 😉

Now that the mushy stuff is out of the way lets talk about what the heck narf7 is on about with that title! Well today is Earl’s birthday. It was 4 years ago today, somewhere in rural South Australia that little Earl first tumbled out into the world, no doubt making his presence felt as soon as he could. From that day on, he has spent his life infuriating, exasperating, eating, dissecting, scraping, chewing, frolicking, barking, did I mention eating? And loving us all. Earl is one of a kind. He is a doggie shaped enigma and we love Earl to bits. It took me a fair while to warm to Earl because he was so very feral but now we are mono-a-mono and there is no separating us. I love him so much I carried home 3 segments of pool noodle that someone had thrown out in a roadside collect today, 2 km to the bemused stares of early morning commuters just so that he would have the joy of tearing them into tiny “squeaky” shreds on his birthday. Today will bring white chocolate (yes, dogs can have it), pizza, eggs, balloons, pool noodles and lots and lots of love, just how it should be when a dog turns 4 🙂

Earl not long after we got him

Earl not long after we got him back in April 2011 wasn’t he a cutey? 🙂

Earl in his usual habitat, a trail of chewed mass destruction in his wake ;)

Earl in his usual habitat, a trail of chewed mass destruction in his wake 😉

Here is that small collective of pool noodle/s that I carried home this morning. Most of them have been shredded but one remains in the lounge room for grazing on later in the day ;)

Here is that small collective of pool noodle/s that I carried home this morning. Most of them have been shredded but one remains in the lounge room for grazing on later in the day 😉

The heron bit…well yesterday on our early morning walk, Earl and I noticed a flock of 14 herons winging their way in from the river to a large dead gum tree. They all landed in the tree and it took them all of 4 seconds to note us walking under the tree. 9 of the herons flew away protesting loudly but 3 remained, stoic in the knowledge that there was no WAY this side of the Pecos that a somewhat overweight 50+ year old woman and a dog who was tethered to said woman (thus completely immobilised by his fat anchor…) were going to be able to climb up 50 feet into the sky to catch them without them at least getting a bit of a whiff of the clear and present danger LONG before it arrived. 3 of those herons were clever. Their babies will be taught by clever parents. And thus the clever bring more cleverness into the world…

Steve took this photo of a dandelion covered in seeds not so long back. Pretty isn't it?

Steve took this photo of a dandelion covered in seeds not so long back. Pretty isn’t it?

It might not be as delicate and sensitive as a zenobia but this deutzia is just as pretty and much hardier. You have to be clever with what you plant, you can usually find something almost the same that will be most happy to live in your garden :)

It might not be as delicate and sensitive as a zenobia but this deutzia is just as pretty and much hardier. You have to be clever with what you plant. You can usually find something almost the same that will be most happy to live in your garden 🙂

Sunshine in Sanctuary and another opportunity to get stuck in to food production

Sunshine in Sanctuary and another opportunity to get stuck in to food production

The last part of the title (and the least pleasant to think about) is the snotty oysters. I can hear you all thinking “I thought narf was a vegan? What the heck is she doing eating and learning to appreciate snotty oysters?!” Well I was being metaphorical rather than actual in this part of the title. Walking with Earl at 5am gives me time to contemplate the world without having to worry too much about ducking over to the very edge of the verge (and coincidentally the very edge of the river bank) in order to avoid being run over by cars. You tend to think more about your own mortality at 7am than you do at 5am. I had just stood and witnessed the sun coming up over a glorious still river and watched the shadows give way to that amazing light that only comes at sun up and Earl and I stood silent and in awe (well I was, Earl was sniffing a dandelion) of this amazing world, how beautiful and privileged we were (again, Earl was otherwise occupied so I really shouldn’t be speaking for him) to bear witness to the start of another amazing day on this slow revolving blue planet that occupies this point in space and time.

These are the plants that I bought at Red Dragon. We have stopped buying ornamentals and everything here has at least 2 purposes. The manna ash has sweet sap that can be harvested in Mediterranean climates like maple syrup, the katsura has toffee apple scented leaves and amazing autumn foliage, the small pot is a Tasmanian pepperberry and the pot on the far right is a New Zealand wineberry BUT I did a bit of research when I got home and they are dioeceous which means that they need both a male AND a female to produce fruit. Looks like Stevie-boy and I will be heading back out to Red Dragon in the near future. Oh what a difficult thing to do! ;)

These are the plants that I bought at Red Dragon. We have stopped buying ornamentals and everything here has at least 2 purposes. The manna ash has sweet sap that can be harvested in Mediterranean climates like maple syrup, the katsura has toffee apple scented leaves and amazing autumn foliage, the small pot is a Tasmanian pepperberry and the pot on the far right is a New Zealand wineberry BUT I did a bit of research when I got home and they are dioeceous which means that they need both a male AND a female to produce fruit. Looks like Stevie-boy and I will be heading back out to Red Dragon in the near future. Oh what a difficult thing to do! 😉

Friends who live down the road had a garage sale on Saturday.

Friends who live down the road had a garage sale on Saturday.

I bought this loveliness... well I didn't buy those wicker balls at the front, I got them for free from another roadside stand that was giving things away. They are going to be used on our homemade Christmas tree this year along with all of our other homemade decorations :)

I bought this loveliness… well I didn’t buy those wicker balls at the front, I got them for free from another roadside stand that was giving things away. They are going to be used on our homemade Christmas tree this year along with all of our other homemade decorations 🙂

I also got some small ounce scales (no, I am NOT going into "business" I just liked them ;) ) and this lovely copper pot and small sugar bowl...

I also got some small ounce scales (no, I am NOT going into “business” I just liked them 😉 ) and this lovely copper pot and small sugar bowl…

...with feet! Who can resist something inanimate with feet :)

…with feet! Who can resist something inanimate with feet 🙂

Stevie-boy bought me a passionfruit and a kiwiberry on Monday when he was doing our fortnightly grocery shop.

Stevie-boy bought me a passionfruit and a kiwiberry on Monday when he was doing our fortnightly grocery shop.

A different variety of Jerusalem artichoke to my regular variety that I have planted to add to the mix, a punnet each of rainbow chard, spinach and jalapenos and my compost bucket ready to be emptied in Sanctuary

A different variety of Jerusalem artichoke to my regular variety that I have planted to add to the mix, a punnet each of rainbow chard, spinach and jalapenos and my compost bucket ready to be emptied in Sanctuary

That Jerusalem artichoke and some that needed to be removed from the garden bed. Once you have Jerusalem artichokes you won't ever be without them but as I love them I really don't mind, it's all bonus food and sunflowers for me! :)

That Jerusalem artichoke and some that needed to be removed from the garden bed. Once you have Jerusalem artichokes you won’t ever be without them but as I love them I really don’t mind, it’s all bonus food and sunflowers for me! 🙂

A whole lot less pumpkins but a whole lot more order and choice. I am planting things out randomly in the hope that nature will be happy with my chaos. (That's my story and I am sticking to it ;) )

A whole lot less pumpkins but a whole lot more order and choice. I am planting things out randomly in the hope that nature will be happy with my chaos. (That’s my story and I am sticking to it 😉 )

They might not be the most professional looking tomato cages but they serve the purpose and were made with love by Stevie-boy for my 2 San Marzano paste tomatoes :)

They might not be the most professional looking tomato cages but they serve the purpose and were made with love by Stevie-boy for my 2 San Marzano paste tomatoes 🙂

Earl was peeing on a tree by this stage but I was still full of the heady bliss of it all and my thoughts turned to life, the universe and everything. I started to think about how each new day was like an oyster being opened. Inside you could find a pearl or you could find a snotty oyster. Pearly days are absolutely wonderful, snotty oyster days are to be endured, unless you find a way to appreciate snotty oysters and then you are ahead. I guess what I was trying to say (other than “I don’t like raw oysters”) is that if we learn to appreciate our days, come what may, we end up with a better quality of life, no matter what our circumstances. Life is what we make of it, not what it hands us. Some lives are harder to live than others and some circumstances are more difficult to endure but there is always a way, always a silver lining and always a way to put the check book back in balance (metaphorically speaking) we just have to find it. I would like it known that I will NEVER appreciate snotty oysters (or cooked okra) I will just pass them on to someone who does and thus ends the lesson for today. Time to head off into our respective lives, to live, to love, to moderate our Facebook rants and to make of our lives what we will. Here’s to Earl and his unmitigated merriment no matter what and a birthday full of things that make him happy 🙂

This is what makes Earl happy, loud music and love and adoration from his humans :)

This is what makes Earl happy, loud music and love and adoration from his humans 🙂

All you need – an elegant sufficiency

Hi Folks,

Armed only with my trusty library card narf7 is on the hunt. I am hunting a book called “Pigs tits and parsley sauce” a most worthwhile read by all accounts. A book about how to live more sustainably for less and wouldn’t you know it? The library didn’t let me down…another blow against the middle man and another point to narf7, the penniless middle aged student hippy who point blank REFUSES to say “can’t” this year. We just had our 600 litre borrowed water tank repossessed. Our Crazy American “friend” decided that another couple he has just met are more deserving of fluoride free water and we had to empty out 600 litres of prime rainwater but not before thrifty problem solving came into play…

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Exhibit A, Crazy old American

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Part 1 of 7 blue barrels that are going to make up our rainwater system

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Baking soda and cornflour…we made decorations but they still aren’t dry!

We recently found a large blue barrel floating on the tide close to shore on the riverbank near Serendipity Farm. I waded out to ferry it in to shore (Steve has delicate city feet 😉 ) and we managed to get it into the back of the car and back to Serendipity Farm complete with freshwater oysters. It had apparently been used as part of a pontoon and had broken free from its moorings to come and live on Serendipity Farm as a much prized single entity…obviously has Napoleonic tendencies (much like everything else on Serendipity Farm so it will fit in here well). So we were able to syphon 200 litres of our precious water into this makeshift rainwater tank. What to do now? Well, we have devised a most interesting gravity fed system that we are going to add to as we find more blue barrels. Steve has been hunting Gumtree for the elusive and most rare blue barrel but it would seem like most of Tasmania has the same idea.

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Our wonderful friend Roxy gave us a lovely little basket of home-grown happiness for Christmas 🙂

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This is my new most delicious healthy treat…homemade coconut cream yoghurt using coconut cream, blended up fruit and some of my finished non-dairy kefir to culture the brew…DELICIOUS! and a most satisfying substitute for “real” yoghurt

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Steve took some artistic shots of his Christmas food…

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Pork pies and sliced meat never looked so good! Sorry you didn’t get images of my nacho’s, they weren’t very photogenic but they tasted like heaven 🙂

Steve logged on for a final look as we are heading into Launceston today (Sunday) to pick up a Karcher high pressure cleaner from Steve’s mum for Christmas. A MOST appreciated gift indeed Pat 🙂 and some sundry cleaning products (sanding pads and sandpaper) so that we can prepare the deck and railings for painting when Stewart and Kelsey arrive on New Year’s Eve to help us paint the deck, rails and part of the house. Aside from 2 bedrooms, it will be the very last part of making Serendipity Farm completely “ours”. The whim paid off and we found another blue barrel in Launceston for $15 so now we will have 400 litres of rainwater storage…we just need to find 5 more blue barrels to make our plans complete.

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Buying your pet supplies through a small local producer sometimes yields benefits that you wouldn’t get from a large generic supplier. This is one of our boys bones gifted for Christmas by Suzie, our lovely pet food lady

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I saw and photographed this on Christmas Day for Jess and Bev and anyone else who would get a chuckle out of this mindful graffiti 😉

Well it is now 2014. “Happy New Year” everyone! I have a really good feeling about this year. Not because it isn’t going to contain its share of pain and heartache, but because I have learned to accept that without pain and heartache, the stark simple beauty of this amazing thing we call life is so much dimmer. This year finds Steve and I hard at work rubbing away years of dirt, grime, rust and neglect from our deck, the deck rails, guttering, downpipes and part of the house that was clad with Western Red Cedar as a feature. It has been exposed to the weather without protection now for a good many years and so we are going to paint it. After perusing the Karchers in our price range we decided that handing over good money for something cheap and plastic that we probably wouldn’t use much wasn’t something that we wanted to do and so we made a decision to carry on as we are and we have almost prepped every surface ready to start painting today.

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Wild foraged harvest…the larger red fruits are sour cherries from roadside trees (possums aren’t all that partial to sour) and the strange looking fruits that resemble cashew fruits are Native Cherries that for some reason, the possums haven’t scoffed from the trees this year like they usually do

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A before shot of the deck, by next week we should have painted the deck, the railings and the upright posts you can see here

2013 was a very important year for me. After half a century of life I finally learned that food is fuel, not comfort and managed to get down to a healthy weight with very little fanfare and fuss but with an incredible amount of happiness and contentment. I spent the year learning, living, and Steve and I managed to complete our media course and have the bits of paper to prove it. We built a huge fully enclosed veggie garden and Stewart and Kelsey who are glamping outside informed me that “something” spent most of yesterday evening attempting to breach the deck without luck…SCORE! I have a vision of a large sad possum laying spreadeagled out over the top of my vegetables pawing sadly at the netting in the direction of my magnificent lettuce tantalisingly close but completely out of reach.

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Can’t say I blame the possums and wallabies…this all looks quite tasty

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IT looks like my yacon decided that living is fun and are putting on lots of growth. They are surrounded by spuds we planted out 2 weeks ago that are also having a great time in the veggie garden

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My compost heap experiment. We trucked this load of compost from over next to the chook shed where we had a large compost bin (that we never turned) and dumped it at the rear of the veggie garden in order to soften up the soil in this area. It was full of worms so I keep adding compost to the front of the pile to feed the worms but I noticed that there were all different kinds of seedlings growing in the pile so decided to let everything grow. The larger plants that you can see in this photo are melon plants that my eldest daughter Madeline grew and gifted to me. They have small flowers on them already 🙂

2014 feels good to me. We are starting it how we mean to finish off, busy and “doing”.  I can feel 365 days ahead and they feel fecund with possibilities. They are sending out tantalising rays of interest to me. I want to taste each one of them fully…to savour my moments and to enjoy those flavours, whatever they may be. There will be bitter days. There will be days that taste of sadness and hopelessness but underneath those days will be the surety that things will get better…that life is an incredibly rich tapestry of flavours, colours, textures and choices that will lead us from one day to the next. How lucky are we? How incredibly blessed to be allowed to experience this wonderful life each day and to have the chance to step out in the new day with a slate wiped clean of yesterday and all of the possibilities of today laid out before us like a huge pile of Lego waiting to be built

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Some of the adventitious food seedlings that are starting to grow

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And a few more

This year I am going to grow all of my vegetables from seed. This year I am going to learn something new every day, even if it is only something simple. I am going to challenge myself to wake up each morning and fully appreciate the moments that make up each day. I am going to go looking for the beauty in the simple and the mundane. I am going to look for the lessons in what life hands to me and I am going to try to be a better narf7 in the way that I both see things and react to them. I want to grow this year and learn and understand. I want to do more, see more and feel more and in the process I want to sample everything that life hands me in 2014

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We tipped compost in this area prior to me shovelling horse manure into this area and you can see a plethora of pumpkins are all starting to grow amongst the potatoes…nature doing her thang

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Not so tiny yellow zucchinis

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A tangle of herbs and Swiss chard and carrots

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Everything is growing like topsy and our efforts to build this garden look like being rewarded 10 fold 🙂

This is going to be a small post. Apparently WordPress has sent me a report about how the blog went this year. I could care less about stats to be honest. They are the annoying thing that makes my desktop take longer to load than it should. I don’t care where my dear constant readers are coming from, so long as they “get” us and our vision…you are all welcome. We don’t discriminate here (much 😉 ). Serendipity Farm has become our own tiny little island in the stream. Its where Steve and I can march in time to the cycles and heartbeat of the earth…an ancient and primal sound that most of us can’t hear any more. We get to say “BOLLOCKS!” to the speed of society and we get to put our feet up and just “be” us. We know how incredibly lucky we are to be us, right here, right now. Some people would say that we were part of the great unwashed masses…they would be right in the unwashed bit…our shower has been out of action now for 3 days thanks to someone (who shall remain anonymous) deciding to remove the door and put in the new shower door at the very same time as we decided (most insanely) to tackle the deck and house painting. We are part of the great unwashed. We are tumbled in with everyone else and we are incredibly happy that we have the chance that we have here on Serendipity Farm. Life is wonderful…life is good…a simple life full of compassion, hope, joy at simple things and gratefulness and where sharing is tantamount to societies lust for power, we find ourselves rich beyond riches in our simple life.

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More experiments…this circle of mesh contains old compost that I threw in here in order to soften up the soil beneath it ready to plant out a food tree. I tossed the last of the silverbeet that we pulled out a while ago into here and as you can see, some of it is growing again! The bonus of experimentation is that you never know what you are going to get and sometimes you get more than you expected

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Bezial and Earl’s Boxing Day bonus

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Steve whipper snipped the tea-tree garden area and I whipper snipped a 15 metre firebreak around the back block. Here you see a before shot of the back block with Franks whipper snipped side already done

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A lovely little yellow fungus inside an old tree stump on the back block

My wish is that 2014 will bring happiness to you all. That it will provide you with opportunities to learn and grow in yourselves. That the lessons that you learn will not break your hearts and won’t be too hard to bear. I hope you will taste the breeze of contentment, that sunshine will fall in equal measure and that you and yours will grow in the light of understanding and possibilities that this wonderful New Year brings. Here’s to sharing Serendipity Farm and our lives with all of you my dear constant readers. Some of you may never comment but that doesn’t matter. All I hope is that you are still getting something out of my mad ramblings and our crazed middle aged Hippy antics and that there is an opportunity for us to touch the lives of someone whom we may never have been able to meet without this amazing platform and all of us will emerge the richer for that brief interlude as we pass

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Before we got started on the side of the house…

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We had to put gates in to stop the fabulous Mr E from absconding off the side of the deck to hunt cats and chooks after we sanded down the deck timbers and removed the chook netting (Earl resistant) in order to paint this side of the deck rails. As you can see, we also had to remove a fair bit of vegetation in the process. That tyre to the left of the image contains a poor long suffering well chewed artichoke plant. Hopefully we will have some complete transformation shots to show you by next Wednesday 🙂

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Not entirely sure how long these pears are going to last but I get the feeling that possums don’t like pears much. Those peaches that I refused to consider disappeared sometime in the night after I posted their tentative image last Wednesday 😉

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Earl “helping” to sand the deck…sigh…

See you next week folks. Hopefully the deck will be finished by then and we will have some good photos to share with you all but for now you are going to have to be content with what I have managed to find today (note to self “get out there and take some photos!”) 😉

Of standing still and mentally collecting ourselves

Hi All,

In the spirit of the mania of the season I find myself feeling like a starfish being pulled in the tidal rip of “Christmas”. I appear to have been washed over by some giant force much bigger than I can resist but amongst all of the dragging (sometimes kicking and screaming, can’t let the bolshie babe side down now can I? 😉 ) there is the knowledge that I am not doing this alone. That there are people out there kicking and screaming in unison with my desire to live a simpler, more fulfilled life and that together we can make a difference. Just saw this on another blog post and loved it. It instantly said what I would like to say to all of you, my dear constant readers. We are “connected”…

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

Here’s wishing you the best of this season, whatever you celebrate, believe in or adhere to and if you, like me, find yourself drifting around helpless in a sea of tidal Christmas consumerism just remember…there are lots of us and I guess one day when the tide slows we are all going to wash up on the same shore, battered and bruised but alive and knowing the bliss of a new year, full of possibilities, where we can pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and have the opportunity to live our lives to the fullest each day 🙂

Narf7 🙂

Where narf learns the value of hard work, gentle days, and is elevated to tribal wise woman and healer in a single week…

Hi Folks,

It’s full on summer here on Serendipity Farm but in a distinctly Tasmanian way. That means that yesterday I was wearing a sarong and thinking about Pina coladas and today I am wearing a jumper and thinking about swapping it for an even bigger one.  I have been learning more about nature thanks to me diving in with both feet…I learned that nature blends herself to adapt…native species live in harmony with Mediterranean species that are almost as hardy and drought tolerant banding together to help Serendipity Farm weather the long hot summers.  Back when Serendipity Farm had the ubiquitous name of “Highfield Gardens” it had been planted out with water loving tree ferns as an homage to an English garden. There are watering systems everywhere that are starting to atrophy and decompose but back in its heyday, when water was free in Tasmania (like it still is in parts of New Zealand you LUCKY BUGGERS!) this property was well irrigated by an automatic watering system. Now the automatic watering system is narf7 and there is a considerable decline in the degree and extent of watering that goes on at any given time.

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Newly periwinkle denuded area but they are tenacious little buggers and will be back with friends

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Part of the whipper snipped driveway. Note some of the plants that we planted out last year survived! This year they should be able to handle the harsh summer a bit better because they have had time to put down roots and get used to their place in the ground (and I have been putting mulch and rocks around the bottom of them just to make sure they do)

The property was left to its own devices when Tasmania implemented paying for water and those water hungry specimens promptly up and died. There are still relics to that luxurious past in the form of tree fern stumps dotted through the property that hardier more drought tolerant species have used to their effect. What remained on “Highfield Gardens” when we moved here was an overgrown tangle of adventitious vines and the hardier more resilient specimens that had been planted and I discovered this excellent site that guides you through choosing waterwise and drought tolerant plants for your garden whilst still being able to have a garden to make you smug with paternal joy. I am having a wonderful time learning about arid/drought hardy plants thanks to a French site…who’d  a thunk that Serendipity Farm had ANYTHING to do with France but apparently it does…same meridians…same climate. Check out http://www.mediterraneangardensociety.org/index.html if you live in a climate where you get very little rain over your summer months…that’s us to a tee. If you don’t think that you can have a lovely garden using waterwise plants then think again.

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One of our “invasive species” in full flight. Here you can see honeysuckle engulfing a rosemary plant. We have a similar problem with blackberries and jasmine

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Not sure if this is invasive but it is certainly putting on a good show this year whatever it is

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This little peach tree grew in the debris from the recently fallen tree and the resulting squashed shrub that must have been towering over it preventing it from getting light. Reminds me of the Paul Kelly song “From little things, big things grow”

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A most useful and happy Mediterranean plant that seems to like living here on Serendipity Farm. I got this small fig tree as a rooted cutting last year and overwintered it in its pot before planting it out in spring. It has 3 friends that are in close proximity. I learned that figs are pollinated by a small wasp and figure I want to give that little wasp the best possible chance of finding ALL of the figs on Serendipity Farm 😉

When I first started typing this post I was having a “Gentle Day”. I had been full on whipper snipping, carting wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of homemade compost from where we had dumped it into the veggie garden by the narf7 equivalent of a Rube Goldberg Machine…a contraption designed to allow access to what is effectively an inaccessible area. I used a combination of boards and planks in order to make the job easier but what eventuated was narf7 learning to skateboard indirectly (or I fell off the teetering boards) so I guess aside from learning how many barrow loads of compost you get in a metre square of homemade compost (27 if you are interested…) and learning that singing “X” barrows of compost to go…”X” barrows to go…” does a whole lot to keeping you motivated to push a heavy barrow up a steep incline on a hot day I am now able to hold my own at the skate park. Enter the “Gentle Day”. A day where narf7 sits here welded to the computer chair clicking “like” to Pinterest and smiling benignly to herself in a most appreciative way. Couple the gentle day with as many cups of tea as I feel like quaffing and you have a recipe for recovery that hospitals worldwide would kill for.

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Once every 4 years these cicada’s emerge en mass and serenade the heat of summer in one long drawn out  “CLICK”

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Steve’s liberated bird of paradise plant flowering like crazy and covered in cicada husks, much like everything else around here that doesn’t move around much

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I thought this tree was dead…apparently not.

“So what is all this about “wise woman” and “healer” narf?” I wondered how long it would take you to get around to asking me…well Steve and I have an acquaintance that is either a prophet or doo-lally…and my money is on the latter to be honest. Methinks the combination of being Californian and imbibing heavily in the green weeds of happiness (and I am NOT talking Scotch thistles there folks 😉 ) has enabled him to put 2 and 2 together and make 14. On a good day he is a bit manic and likes to share with anyone who will listen (or won’t…makes no difference to him…) about how the aliens are shaping our world. On a bad day he becomes almost messianic with the need to spread “the good word” which in his case is always on the fringe borderland of sanity…teetering on the edge.

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What I am reading (or have just finished) at the moment. I just finished Clarissa Dickson Wrights tomb about her amazing life, the Organic Gardening book is mine but I haven’t ever read it (and I have had it for 4 years) and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry was a recommendation by Jo of “All the Blue Day”. I have just started it and am enjoying sitting out on the deck in the sunshine with a big glass of Kombucha feeding body and soul at the same time

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No sooner do we discover a nest than the bolshie hens abandon it and move further into difficult territory. The last nest that Earl and I found was nestled amongst forget-me-nots and hidden deep in a blackberry bush. I emerged triumphant with eggs held aloft but with my eyelids sticking to my eyebrows…time to invent a long handled egg plucker methinks!

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Does anyone know what this is? I am SO used to not seeing these that I am confused when confronted with one. The local possums are still suspiciously conspicuous by their absence. I have been able to harvest ripe fruit from the native cherries and I am gearing up for a possum zombie apocalypse as we speak…

After having several visitations with him over the last week I got a little tired of listening most politely about aliens. I needed to push some heavy barrows up a steep hill in what was becoming the equivalent of the sun being the magnifying glass and narf7 taking the part of an ant. I had to think quick about where I was heading or I might have been holed up for hours so I pressed a few litres of kombucha into his hand and told him to go home and drink it for his health. The next day he was back…empty bottle in hand and I had suddenly been elevated from “woman who irritated him by talking when he was in full rant status to “wise woman of his tribe”…” Not entirely sure that I WANT to be the wise woman of his tribe but the next day he was back (with another empty bottle) and I had been elevated to healer and not only was I now officially sanctioned by the nursing union, but he has decided to put the aliens on ice for a bit and take up healing the world. I wonder if this lonely man is adapting himself to people that he sees as his community? Steve and I give him our time because he hasn’t got anyone else. He is bright, interesting but has some seriously whacked out ideas about the world but haven’t we all got some off the wall secrets? Michael just chooses to share his.

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I refuse to salivate over this peach. I know that as soon as I start to contemplate the delicious juicy morsel it will disappear. I consider it collateral damage

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Another job I did was to sort through the potted plants and move them all around under our watering system to make summer watering more efficient and easier to accomplish. These are Steve’s bonsai specimens that he works on sporadically when the mood hits him. They have been separated from the rest of the plants as he doesn’t mind pottering around watering them each day.

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Here’s the rest of the potted plants all bundled together to make sure that they get watered by that overhead watering system that Steve rigged up. The empty stand was once where Steve’s bonsai babies lived. It will be dismantled and removed when we get around to it (so expect it to be still there come winter 😉 )

After taking more kombucha he headed off informing me that he would be back…sigh…he brought back a container of borax, some literature (to go with the other literature in the bag of literature in the spare room for when we get a budgie…) and a 1960’s wind up alarm clock that plays “some enchanted evening” as an alarm. It didn’t take him long to explain himself and apparently we all need to be turning off the electricity at the fuse box to make sure that we don’t get cancer and repressed… the clock was to ensure that we woke up in the mornings but as Steve so dryly put it when he headed off on his aging wheezing motorbike…”that dial is luminous…that paint is radioactive!” He seems to have found something else to do over the last few days (most probably making something to cure the world) so Serendipity Farm is back to the quiet hermitage that we know and love so well 🙂

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The 60’s wind-up clock with Michaels new batch of Kombucha in the background and all the “literature” I can face at this moment in time

The voodoo lilies are out in force this year. They have been steadily building up numbers and the rain we had helped this year’s incarnation to be a particularly glorious and most foetid one. I was whipper snipping the driveway the other day and thought I could smell a dead possum or 5…turns out the voodoo lilies were in fine form that day. We even smelled them wafting through the door leading out to the deck and they are quite a way down the driveway. There is always a ferryman to be paid and in the voodoo lily case, the ferryman trod in something!

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Steve took this image on his mobile. It looks like something in Transylvania to me. You would expect that sort of exotica someplace where things howl maniacally at the moon (like Serendipity Farm 😉 )

13120013 A closer view (as close as my olfactory senses would let me get…) of the amazing flower on the voodoo lilies. The “scent” (far too mild a word for what emanates from them) is a blend of aged road kill, Roquefort cheese and Steve’s feet after a hard days work and comes from that darker stamen.

It is around about this time of year that our local council sends out notices to people to get their firebreaks mowed or face a fine. Stevie-boy (the tight) and narfypants (the equally as tight) don’t like to pay fines so it was up to the back block to wade through the metre tall poa grass in order to cut a 15 metre swath through the undergrowth. The good thing about the back block is that we rarely go there. Our least favourite neighbours live up here…the neighbours that conned our house sitter into clearing a large swathe of trees from the back block in order for them to get more of a view and a better price for their house sale (not sold yet 😉 ). I spent a lot of time being VERY careful to whipper snip gently around the outside of the small black wattle and sheok trees that have sprung up assisted by our wet winter…nature appears to be wanting her property back and I, for one am NOT going to argue with her 😉

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One of natures first lines of demarcation in the war against bare earth…the ground cover. This particular ground cover is Acaena nova-zelandiae aka “Buzzies”. Its hard to believe that someone would want to buy this groundcover for their garden but on the mainland it is a nursery specimen. Why do I have a problem with buzzies?

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Sigh…here’s why. Buzzies hitching a lift on narf7 to a new home (which most vindictively appears to be a concrete gutter…bad luck this time buzzies! 😉 )

I have been taking cuttings furiously and have added Artemisia and lavender to the mix. Both of these shrubs are incredibly hardy and water wise and should love living here on Serendipity Farm. I have been joyously hurling compost hand over fist onto our large pile of composted garden soil. Its full of worms and I figure the best way to keep it that way till I can get it made into more garden beds. Remember that thing about paying the ferryman? Well it’s really swings and roundabouts to be honest…you do have to pay the ferryman but you also get good stuff in return. Our “interesting” Californian friend might require a fair bit of patience and time but he offered to give me some of his old railway sleepers he has been hoarding to help build our garden. He also permanently loaned us that small rainwater tank. Friends come in all shapes, sizes and mental dispositions… we don’t discriminate here and karma has a way of giving back what you pass out to the universe…sounding a bit “woo-woo” there folks? I will give you 20 minutes with Michael and then you can tell me that my theories are woo-woo 😉 .

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This is a small bowl of gumnuts that come from Eucalyptus globulus more commonly known as the Tasmanian blue gum. I collected them from underneath a huge specimen today on my walk with Earl. The heat brings out the smell of eucalypts and I had the most vivid memory of spending Christmas Day at my Grandmothers and heading out to laze away an overstuffed afternoon underneath the branches of a huge blue gum that was on her property. Right next to this specimen was an English broom in full bloom and the combination of scents made me smile.

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I am well aware that this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea when it comes to Christmas Trees. For one, it is only vaguely reminiscent of a “tree”. It was made out of driftwood collected from the riverbank at the front of our property. It appears to have been decorated by a blind lunatic (that would be “moi”) and someone forgot when to stop when it came to putting decorations on it. Steve LOVES chaotic Christmas trees. I usually put the reigns on him and tell him that we have to be tasteful and the results are aesthetically pleasing and usually quite sterile. This year I decided to stop being the Grinch and let Steve have his Christmas Tree HIS way. This is the end result. What would happen if Pirates bothered to celebrate Christmas but Stevie-boy is happy and my sense of style shrunk 3 sizes in the process 😉

I have been thinking about ways to be more sustainable I read several wonderful Aussie blogs that spur me on to want to try harder. Jess/Rabid of “Rabid little Hippy”, Jo of “All the blue day”, Linda of “Greenhaven” and Bev of “Foodnstuff” all motivate me to find even more ways to live simply and minimise our carbon footprint. The other day I was pondering how to keep water up to the arid garden under the deck. I have been mass planting it in order to keep as much moisture in the soil as possible but I know it is going to have a tough time when the sun comes out and stays out for the next few months. One way to water it would be to tap into the grey water that runs from the kitchen sink into the septic. This would require some plumbing skills that neither of us is willing to contemplate at the moment so I figured out the next best thing was to put a large plastic bowl in the kitchen sink and whenever it gets full I will take it out onto the deck and pour it onto the parched plants below. In the first couple of days of using this system I am amazed at how much water I flushed down into the septic tank on a daily basis. I feel positively virtuous and am managing to kill 2 birds with one stone, my favourite game :). Another idea involves a bucket, the end results of my cups of tea and our compost heap…still contemplating that one but again, 2 birds with 1 stone and a healthy dose of nitrogen thrown into the mix

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My thrifted plastic tub ready for action

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And what, pray tell is this?! This, my dear constant readers, is what happens when you are trying to cook bulk quantities of healthy vegetable soup and wonder what would happen if you threw some of your new most favourite seed (buckwheat) into the mix. This is a solid chunk of soup. About 8 solid portions. Puts a whole new slant on a “solid meal” 😉

I hauled 9 bags of mushroom compost into the enclosed veggie garden and noticed that one of them had large mushrooms in it that had gone over to the dark side. I decided to see if we couldn’t get some sort of benefit out of this situation and tipped the mushroom compost onto the surface of the large pile of compost I had just barrowed in and placed the squishy fungal matter spore side down onto the compost. I am thinking that the spores might infect the media and we might be onto a mushroomy winner but only time will tell.

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Some of the 9 bags of mushroom compost that are waiting for me to tip them onto the pile of compost that I barrowed in and am guarding carefully

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This doesn’t look like much. I tried to take a shot from various angles to give you the best idea of how much homemade compost lives in this worm sodden heap but you are just going to have to believe me…27 barrow loads doesn’t lie! I keep the netting over it so that I can keep it soaked and the heap nice and moist in order to keep my wormy mates happy. Mono-a-mono those worms and I. We have an understanding 🙂

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I wasn’t entirely sure if these root cuttings of various mint varieties and what I think is a bergamot plant (the tall one) would survive the trip back from where I found them but they seem to be very happy in the veggie garden and are growing nicely.

I was sitting here on Monday at 3am when I suddenly heard what I thought was the sound of Christmas tree decorations falling onto the ground. A sort of “pop” sound. We had just put up the Christmas tree so it was a highly likely eventuality and I snuck into the lounge room expecting to see the floor littered with Christmas debris but was bemused to find that none of the decorations had fallen off. I returned to my seat where for the next 2 hours I heard this sound on a regular basis…I thought it might have been Earl sneezing on our bed (I had checked Bezial who gets up with me to keep me company) but he was out like a light and completely sneeze free. The noise kept coming until I headed off to make Steve his first cup of coffee and I heard the noise closer and on looking around discovered that my kefir…that I keep in a lidded bottle…was escaping. It had been forcing its fizzy way out of the screw top of the bottle…I judged (somewhat prudently it turns out) that the bottle might be under a degree of pressurisation and carefully opened the lid whereby the most curious thing happened…all of my kefir grains quite literally “Popped” out of the neck of the bottle and were deposited on the wooden bread board alongside the bottle. A nice neat collective of fermentation doing what it does best. Consider me warned that the warmer weather is going to require a revision of the fermentation schedule!

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As you can see, everything is starting to take off in the wonderful humid conditions of the enclosed veggie garden…especially the weeds! I know what I will be doing tomorrow…sigh…

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More exponential growth of “stuff”

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Pumpkins and potatoes are most rewarding with the amount of growth that they put on in a week.

Finally I would like to share a most wonderful blog post with you all today. Feel free to read it or not. I think that should you choose to read it, you will arrive at the other side enriched and satiated and most probably with another blog tucked into your “must read” Rss Feed Reader (or equivalent). Did you ever wonder about the REAL Father Christmas? Turns out someone wrote a marvellous book about him and this post is redolent of a time, last century, when the world had just finished tearing itself apart and Santa was living a careful, simple and most austere life. Good to know that my superhero is adaptable :). By the way folks…next Wednesday just so happens to be Christmas. I will be posting as usual, most probably about the delightful communal celebrations we had the day before so feel free to check it out if you find yourself at a loose end. By the way…in the spirit of adventurous Christmas repasts future, I have chosen to institute a new Christmas food tradition for myself. From this day forward, December 25th shall be “Christmas Nacho Day”! “OLE!”

http://restoringmayberry.blogspot.com.au/2013/12/father-christmas-homesteader.html

I just found this Youtube link to a wonderful animation voiced by the late actor Mel Smith illustrated by Raymond Briggs (the author of Father Christmas) if any of you would like to watch it…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4k-9KGs_4U

 

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Look what just turned up in the mail… 🙂

Of life, loss and the coming of awareness

Hi Folks,

We are but dust however, while we are here on earth we have a chance to shine like stars. Before and after that we are absorbed back into the universe.

I find myself watching elderly people. Where once they were invisible they have just “blipped” onto my radar screen. I am aware…

With every grey hair, wrinkle, ache and pain that slowly descends I am aware…

Bernard and Manny our Javanese finches when we first bought them about 5 years ago

Bernard and Manny our Javanese finches when we first bought them about 5 years ago

Today the last of our Javanese finches died. They were adult when we purchased them and we had them for 5 years. Manny, the female, died earlier this year and today we uncovered Bernard to see that he had died as well. Although Manny was as animated as Bernard she didn’t have his feisty character. Bernard was a rock god. Bernard would sing his heart out whenever Steve would crank up his amps and play loudly. He would sing whenever Steve tuned in to MTV and the only band that Bernard wasn’t fond of was Gun’s and Roses for some reason known only to him.

Bernard's sarcophagus

Bernard’s sarcophagus

Today we buried Bernard in a guitar string box. His tiny 20g body nestled carefully in between hay that we had put on the base of his cage over the last few weeks because he couldn’t manage to fly up to his perches. We did what we could…we watched…we were aware…

Today another star twinkled out and turned to dust. We buried him down in Steve’s maple garden. At first I wanted to send him out on a tiny raft burning and blazing like a beacon into the Tamar River to give him a Viking send-off…always, as ever, dramatic

If the truth be known Bernard would rather be down in the garden that he saw in his peripheral vision. The Viking funeral is my desire for one last final hurrah…Bernard is gone and we are aware…

How can something 20g make so much difference to our lives? I am not sure, but Mr Duncan MacDougall, a noted Boston scientist, theorised that the weight of a human soul is 21g. Bernard ate a lot in his last few days on earth. I would like to think he was aiming for gold.

Today we had another moment to remind us that our time here is fleeting. Today awareness touched us and we watched a tiny spark falter and wink out of existence. Today we dug a hole, we buried a small insignificant box and we covered it with soil and grass and patted it down. Almost the same but not quite, 21g of pure soul is buried in that hole. Aretha Franklin, eat your heart out. Bernard is singing with the greats tonight perched on the end of Jimi Hendrix’s guitar 🙂

Bernard in a sunbeam. Aside from a nice splash in a water bowl and a beak full of sunflower seeds this was Bernard's favourite place to be

Bernard in a sunbeam. Aside from a nice splash in a water bowl and a beak full of sunflower seeds this was Bernard’s favourite place to be

One last teeny post I promise!

Hi Folks,

I seem to be the queen of teeny tiny little posts and reposts at the moment but it’s not my fault there are quality life lessons and excellent writing going free for grabs…I need to share it! Here’s something that I found in today’s RSS Feed Reader inbox. I can’t help but share when there are fundamental truths twitching behind my eyes and this little baby set off jangling bells. Wise words to live by and something to aim for. We often forget to really live and make do with merely existing. Remember…we only get 1 ride of this crazy careening carousel we call life and we had best enjoy that ride to the max because once we get off at the end there aint no more folks!

http://zenhabits.net/aol/

A teeny tiny little aniversary post

Hi Folks,

Today is Steve’s and my 13th wedding anniversary. I read something the other day about “the ideal relationship” and if we were going by what was listed in the post we are doomed. The thing about “ideal relationships” is that they aren’t real. They are idealistic wants and desires and don’t resemble real love at all. Real love isn’t pretty. It’s saggy and overweight and often grouchy and has hairs sprouting out where hairs shouldn’t be seen in polite company. Real love is that toilet seat left up/down once too often and “paper, rock, scissors for who is going to take out the bin. Real love is the place where we all settle for what is in front of us, rather than what is inside our heads.

Who wears the pants in our relationship?

Who wears the pants in our relationship?

We BOTH do thanks to Jess :)

We BOTH do thanks to Jess 🙂

Real love is also spotting your wife’s 4 litres of brewed tea and sugar left to cool outside and promptly forgotten about and thinking “I bet the possums would pee in that…” and bringing it in anyway, despite how funny watching your wife drink possum pee Kombucha would be. THAT…is true/real love :).

Like Big Kev would have said "We're not fancy... but we're cheap!" ;)

Like Big Kev would have said “We’re not fancy… but we’re cheap!” 😉

Happy anniversary my wonderful man and here’s to many more 13 year instalments 🙂

This is us folks, take us or leave us but there is no denying we are "real" :)

This is us folks, take us or leave us but there is no denying we are “real” 🙂

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