Invasion of the Choko

Hi All,

It’s 3.13am Thursday morning and I have decided to tap away here for a little bit because I am waiting for my RSS Feed Reader to load. After it reached 525 posts and my eye started to twitch involuntarily I decided to head off for a bit and distract myself. Steve and I are juggling studies and dog walking with our annual winter wind-down. I have almost knitted a pair of gauntlets. I live in the knitting world between day and night. I spend a few short moments of my time knitting furiously before I start to fall asleep and have to lay my needles down and go to bed. Usually I am pretty tired by this point and have to make sure that my half asleep brain remembers to put the knitting back into my knitting bag and hide it in the spare room. There are always a pair of eyes watching me when I knit. I must admit, the pair of eyes has learned not to jump on me and steal my wool while I am knitting. I figure the pair of eyes turning 3 this year might be part of it but it is a small victory and something to be celebrated. When I was untangling the wool that I got from my daughter earlier in the week (and no Bethany, you STILL can’t have it back! 😉 ) he trotted past the tangled heap on the table and did a classic double take. He trotted back in a most interested way and after I told him “NO” he trotted off to a safe distance away (obviously my “NO” has a personal space…) and proceeded to watch me like a hawk for any signs that my defences were down and he could launch in to take possession of the delicious tangle of fun on the kitchen table. Alas…my defences didn’t drop and he didn’t even get to sniff the wool.

DSCF2821

As soon as Earl realised that I had picked up my camera to take a picture of him completely upside down with his legs in the air, both he and Bezial decided to turn away…party poopers!

DSCF2824

Steve thinks I am not going to use this photo and the next one. Earl is looking decidedly demented in this shot 😉

Earl isn’t like other dogs. Earl is as close to a wild dog as you are going to get without adopting a wolf. Up until now we have often felt like we are walking a tightrope with him because he just did what he wanted to do and we didn’t know how to deal with it. There were times when we first bought Earl when I would look into his eyes and see “alien”. He just felt completely and utterly foreign to me. Not a dog, sort of a bunch of muscles from mars. After numerous attempts to try to train him he seemed untrainable. It would be easy to think that Earl was stupid. He doesn’t listen, he eats the furniture and even after the humans go spare he still does what he wants. Nothing worked and unlike Bezial, he didn’t learn from his mistakes, he just kept making them.  He obviously thinks he rules the roost but something has happened to Earl over the last 6 months. He has decided that he loves us. He even loves his fat old sofa buddy Bezial. In allowing himself to love us he has also allowed himself to start fitting in to the hierarchy here. He is starting to listen to commands. “NO” is something he understands now. I don’t ever think he didn’t understand “NO” I just think he chose not to worry about it. Now he wants to please us and get cuddles and have us say “Good Dog!” and pat him. Earl is an attention hog. He loves nothing more than being loved and it’s lucky that Bezial could care less about cuddles because Earl is always there to lap up any attention that anyone wants to give him.

DSCF2826

I think this is priceless…all 3 of my boys looking completely and utterly doo-lally! SHHH! Stop laughing…Steve will hear you! 😉

Now the following image isn’t going to make an OUNCE of sense to anyone outside of Australia and of a “certain age” but here it is anyway…doesn’t Milo bear a canny resemblance to Steve in this image?! 😉

Milo with guitar

If Steve EVER finds this post it could be enough reason for a divorce! 😉

Where I said earlier that it would be easy to think that Earl was stupid I meant that he never seemed to learn anything. We spent 6 months trying to teach him the benefits of shaking hands. He eventually learned it and if you pull out a treat bag that little front paw is straight up in the air. Earl is the least “stupid” dog I know. What Earl is, is his own dog. He might have a feral edge a mile wide but that edge is completely tempered with how a dog should act. The problem is that Steve and I aren’t dogs and Bezial doesn’t think that he is one either and Earl is trying to teach us the ways of the pack. Obviously he is top dog in his pack order but after 3 years he is starting to see that there are benefits in allowing the pink hairless ones to think that they are the boss. There are some quality games to be had when you drop the toy that you are holding. Dropping prey is foreign to a dog. Why would you drop your hard won fluffy squirrel for another dog?! Earl recently showed me how clever he was. He often brings a toy in to the computer in the afternoon and presses it gently onto the knee of whoever is using the computer at the time. It’s his way of saying “a game would be nice around about now, you obviously need to check off that seat before you start to resemble Bezial…” it is also the precursor to his long and convoluted series of stages that he goes through before his meal. He brought the toy to me and pressed it onto my knee looking up at me with enormous doe eyes. Earl is VERY good at doe eyes. Nature gave him Chinese eyes but he has learned to open them wide and can melt hearts with those eyes. I think it’s the fact that you don’t expect that adoration and innocence from that body.

DSCF2818

Admittedly this doesn’t look tasty. It looks like something that might once have been tasty but that has passed through the digestive tract of the enjoyer and is on it’s way to the sewer. It is, however, delicious! This is date paste that has had a good slug of Jack Daniel’s, a splosh of Hazelnut liqueur, a glug of Stones Green Ginger Wine and a gargle in some delicious maple syrup (all with the complete acceptance of my daughters who owned all of these ingredients 😉 ). It tastes like scrumptious smooth fruit mince and I am going to make some coconut vegan vanilla ice-cream and swirl some of this gorgeousness through it.

DSCF2832

This is a choko that has broken it’s banks and that is growing. I am happy for it to grow, in fact, I am ecstatic! Jean of the wonderful blog “allotment adventures” has been waxing lyrically about choko’s for a while now and has reignited my memories of these humble tasteless vegetables. I have eaten them boiled and this is what turned me off them BUT I have also enjoyed them immensely without even knowing that they were in what I ate. They are carriers of flavour, sort of the green vegetable equivalent of tofu (except nothing like it 😉 ). They work well in jams, marmalade and eke out the prize tasty ingredients by being content to stay in the background while the prized fruit shines. Love them or loath them, Serendipity Farm is about to have a choko vine :). Those strange looking things underneath the choko used to be red Jerusalem artichokes. For some reason once I put them into this bowl and they all deflated! The white stuff is not mould but is flour (Steve is a messy cook 😉 )

Earl and I have a special bond. Apparently he sees me as his property. He knows that as “property” I have my disadvantages. One of them is that I go ballistic at a moment’s notice. To own property like me you need to be dedicated. I am like owning an old degrading WW2 bomb, I am unstable and I am dangerous. I might look barnacled and benign but beneath my pock-marked surface I am ticking and Earl knows it. I would like to think that he has decided that I am his mistress. That I rule the roost here and that I am to be listened to but I fear I am barking up the wrong tree and Earl has just decided to let me do what I want to do so long as I keep scratching him in the right places, cuddling him and telling him he is a good boy and I let him sleep at my feet on the bed. There is a whole lot more to Earl’s love than that. I am doing him an injustice there. When Earl loves, he adores. If he was a human he WOULD be a Viking. He would be all man muscular and handsome and when he fell in love it would be that amazing real deal. There would be roses and feet being swept off and forever and lots and lots of fluffy squirrel donations but he isn’t a man, he is a dog and that makes him a little more manageable. He is satisfied with his lot aside from a constant need to be the cream that rises to the top. He knows that Bezial was here first and that Bezial has a part of Steve’s heart that he will never be able to fill. I give Earl that love that he craves and as the only “bitch” in the family I qualify for his undivided attention and Earl IS learning to fit in now. I wouldn’t trust Earl with anything other than a human but with a human I would trust him implicitly. Earl is the sort of dog that you could send your 10 year old child off with and KNOW that nothing was going to happen to them. He instinctively knows how he is supposed to act. There are no fears in Earl (aside from squirty water bottles and a strange terror of noises that come out of mobile phones that send him running) and I know that if any of us, Bezial included, were ever to be attacked he would fight for us to the death. I know that like I know the morning will come. I love Earl and my early fear of his animalistic alien-ness has mellowed to acceptance and real love. We have an understanding now that runs much deeper than the here and now and Earl and I navigate through our day’s one fluffy squirrel at a time.

DSCF2841

DSCF2843

Lastly…you tell ME how you pronounce that without the library lady jumping over her desk and washing your mouth out with soap! 😉

Sorry about the bad photo but it was raining and a bit dark today so the flash kept going off. Here’s todays library haul. James Wong is a legend and the other 2 books are some recipe books that I have been interested in messing about with. The black book has some most interesting recipes in it “crack pie” and “cereal milk ice cream” are only 2 of the choices but I am having fun going through the yellow book that has recipes for making your own ramen…now who wouldn’t want to know how to make good quality ramen!

It’s windy and rainy and thundery and lightning and absolutely LOVELY! It’s great to have a bit of foul weather for once and to know that it really is winter. The weather worldwide seems to have become somewhat confused. Steve and I have been so grateful that we bought Brunhilda when we did. She is certainly paying for herself now with endless hot water, free cooking and house warming. We have been cracking through our media course and are learning heaps about Adobe Flash and have recently been animating household objects. Steve animated his coffee cup and I animated a set of 3 Babushka dolls that I picked up somewhere. Lots of fun and another feather in our caps should we ever need to look like Indian Chiefs. I am lusting after getting out into our new veggie garden. I need to source some hay but at the moment we are starting to prep ourselves for the impending visit of friends and family for my rapidly approaching “big” birthday. There is snow on Mount Wellington Kymmy! We can go up together and make a snowman. I want to post a picture of Kym and I making a snowman and throwing snowballs at each other (not sure how I am going to take a photo of us BOTH throwing snowballs but hey, leave it with me! 😉 ). My sister Pinky is coming over as is the son-and-heir and his Texan sweetie Kelsey so there will be quite a few more than usual hovering around Serendipity Farm.

DSCF2846

Here’s my gauntlets so far. It’s just about time to swap over to that brown wool so I am going to have to bite the bullet and cast off!

DSCF2848

These are my daughter Bethany’s. I forgot to take them off when I borrowed them the other day and only remembered halfway home so Steve will be taking them back on shopping day. I wonder if anyone out there would know where I could find a pattern (and the knitting ability) to make a pair of these? I LOVE them!

Steve headed off and took a few motion blur images of Glad’s little waterfall that runs through her property. She was out raking leaves (not bad for 91) and said “Knock yourselves out!” when we asked her if she minded us taking photos. She recently burned the junction where the waterfall meets the outflow pipe (into the Tamar River) to remove all of the oak leaves that were clogging it and its lucky that she did because this recent rain has caused the stream to flow wonderfully and it would have backed up into her garden if it was full of leaves. The roosters are crowing in unison under the deck. I wouldn’t care so much if they weren’t situated directly underneath me. They are big roosters and those large lungs are apparently there to increase the noise. We just discovered that one of the smaller “hens” is a rooster. It is going to be a most beautiful rooster because it is a cross between Big Yin (a standard golden Wyandotte rooster) and one of Effel Dookarks offspring (She was a blue Wyandotte) and it has a lovely grey tail. We might even keep him and see what he looks like. The other 2 are living on borrowed time. We were recently given the bones from a piglet purchased from a local producer by our friends. They were ostensibly for the dogs but Earl is “funny” about bones and when he saw how many bones were on offer he started to strut around and we decided to stop a problem (with Bezial) before it occurred. He got a couple of bones (that he promptly ran off to hide with his nose) and the rest went into a stockpot with lots of water while I was away. If I had been here, I would have done something with them but Steve just let them simmer till they reduced down to about ¼ of their original weight and the next day they had turned to jelly. The dogs didn’t want to even contemplate eating it. They are VERY fussy for big dogs. The feral cats got it all and enjoyed every single jelly filled mouthful. I think Steve just made instant canned cat food…”Jelly meat anyone?” 😉

DSCF2849

Here’s the back of them. Note the cute mitt conversion kit that…

DSCF2850

Flips over when you need your fingers to be warm

I am just finishing off todays post whilst waiting for my RSS Feed Reader to download todays haul. I have dumped a few peripheral blogs that I no longer read and am tailoring my blog feeds to what I am now interested in. My interests tend to evolve on a regular basis but revolve predominately around vegan food and recipe blogs and baking sites along with some gardening and environmental sites. Most of the blogs that I follow post infrequently which is amazingly lucky for me because I have so many of them. I have almost managed to get back to a maintenance level where I empty my feeds every day. It takes me about a week of intensive shuffling to do it after a weekend away. I am going to have a LOT of feeds after my week with Kym but there is an option called “The Panic Button” that you can press that eliminates all posts older than a specified date (you choose) so I might just have to get ruthless on them or die trying to eliminate them. My choko is sprouting nicely, my gauntlets are almost finished and now I found a tutorial reminding me how to cast off, I should be able to finish them soon :o). That should tell you how long it has been since I last knitted! We are enjoying using rainwater in our kettle to make our daily beverages now. I also use it to make my kefir. I have been batching up my excess non-dairy kefir and freezing it in ice-cube trays ready for warmer times when I can get back to drinking green smoothies for breakfast without sustaining frost bite of the lip.

DSCF2853

These are my lovely rainbow wool socks that my son bought for me one mothers day a few years ago. Earl “redecorated” them :(. I am in the process of pulling what is left of them apart, re-joining the hand dyed wool together and then I might just attempt to recreate a pair of those lovely hooded mitts. I know that they will probably be HUGE and I won’t be able to do or feel anything with them but as they are chunky wool, at least I won’t have cold hands!

DSCF2859

The biscuit barrel is starting to get low…time to bake some more! That’s my non-dairy kefir doing its thang next to the bickies

I just found an excellent blog site (that I promptly added to my feed 😉 ) all about making and using worm wicked water beds. An excellent resource and here is the website for anyone interested in this wonderfully water-wise way of vegetable gardening…

http://www.jas49580.blogspot.com.au/

And here’s another great blog with free PDF’s about soil mycology and how to build and use water wicking veggie garden beds. You can now get an idea why I never manage to get entirely through my RSS Feed Reader…I keep finding new and amazingly useful sites! 😉

http://www.wickingbed.com/

DSCF2868

This is one of Steve’s sponge cakes. He just tossed this one together for a friends birthday tomorrow. He will be taking orders when he recovers from the effort 😉

DSCF2865

I KNEW this choko had designs on taking over Serendipity Farm! This image was taken this afternoon…the image at the beginning of the post was taken about 2 hours earlier…it is growing exponentially! By Wednesday we will all be trapped inside and it will be demanding to be fed…actually…look at the end of it. it bears an uncanny resemblance to “Audrey” from The Little Shop of Horrors!

It would seem that I have fallen prey to the dreaded lurgy folks. Not bad, but definitely making me feel tender and sniffy. How lucky am I that I can settle down next to Brunhilda and fall asleep over my knitting or a book. Steve is off hunting Aurora Australis somewhere in Deviot. Apparently there are sun spots at the moment and that means a greater than average chance (60% if you care) of seeing the Aurora Australis from the Southern states of Australia. As Tassie is about as far south as Australia gets (apart from our vested interests in Antarctica…) we have a good viewpoint. Steve has plans for taking some time-lapse photography tomorrow involving the river and some yachts. This wind brings the yachters out en masse. I think I might be just about to call this post done and dusted folks. Today has been “smooth”. Not bad to be smooth when you are sick, just coasting along and nothing major…just “smooth”. Tomorrow will hopefully be just as smooth and won’t have me crusty and with a handkerchief permanently welded to my nasal area. Wish me luck and see you on Wednesday :o)

DSCF2872

At least if the choko manages to eat me, it will get its just deserts! 😉