The amazing adventures of Frances Fennel Pants and Co.

Hi All,

I don’t think I own a pair of pants that don’t smell of some form of strong vegetation. The reason behind the olfactory enhancement of my derrière pockets is because whenever we walk the dogs (and that would be a daily event) I tend to find some seed pod or other to shove into my back pocket along with the various rocks, bits of shiny river tumbled glass and old pottery shards that I collect on our travels. My latest foray into the world of hardy bee and butterfly forage plants is fennel (Foeniculum vulgare). I have been collecting seed as it ripens along with Queen Anne’s lace and I am looking for a source of Jerusalem artichokes, canna lilies and day lilies to add to my extreme hardy Zone 4 collection. I want plants that will survive anything that comes, that are hardy, tough, waterwise, can stand a drenching and that will attract beneficials to Serendipity Farm and have a degree of edibility about them. The only one from the list I wouldn’t eat anything from is Queen Anne’s Lace but I dare say that it has some form of medicinal qualities (I just haven’t had time to look it up yet). We got an envelope of Angelica Sylvester ‘Purpurea’ from Karen at Wychwood (to see some of this amazing garden check here… http://wychwoodtasmania.com/?page_id=4 ) yesterday to share with our friend in the witness protection. We are going to grow and plant out elderberries (Sambucus Canadensis) and various other fast growing extremely hardy plants (including the loquats that the wallabies sampled to within an inch of their lives recently). I learned a lesson about gardening over the course of the summer. I let one set of garden beds go nuts. The tomatoes did whatever they liked, fell over, lay on the ground, covered EVERYTHING and I let the chook wheat grow on the hay that I spread over the garden. It’s like a jungle in that side of the garden but a very productive one that requires half as much water as the carefully tended sparser series of veggie gardens on the other side. Mass planting really does work! I have some serious hunting to do over the next few months for hay bales, hardy edible groundcovers, vines, perennials, annuals and shrubs. We have some serious tree planting ahead of us including sweet chestnuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, figs, avocados, Brachychitons and now a small mango that has grown in our new compost heap from a seed that I tossed in wondering if it might grow. It’s amazing what will grow if you give it a chance.

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I have shamefully resorted to posting photo’s from my archives in order to give you enough to look at today. We have been flat out studying, making sourdough carrot cakes and baking quiche and the time got away from us. This is a homemade Thai green curry chicken pie, one of 4 that Steve enjoyed over the course of a couple of days

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Another shameless photo from the archives, this time of potato wedges that went with one of those delicious Thai green curry chicken pies

Its 6.02am and I am listening to the ethereal sounds of Miles Davis playing the trumpet and doing my own little social experiment on myself. Steve has been doing a social experiment on Facebook but sometimes I really don’t know where my dear husbands mind goes…I just let it go, it’s his to direct and some of the weird and wonderful posters he is posting boggle the mind…who knows what they say (most of them are in Russian) but it makes him happy to be making his statement (whatever that is…) so go for it I say :o). This little personal experimentation of my own involves me, good music and my days. I am attempting to see if it really is true that what you put into yourself forms you. I am hoping that this gorgeous soul uplifting music is going to give me back a degree of mellowness without the need to partake of the pharmacy of the multitudes. I figure I am overdue a script for “mellowness” and aside from learning how to meditate which strikes me as altogether a bit of an adventure laterally that I just don’t fancy at this moment in time, where multitasking as I tap away here posting, or finding recipes or information seems completely within the boundaries of my current thought processes…no stepping outside my comfort zone to toss Miles Davis Sketches of Spain into my brain, mainlining those castanets as we speak… I am exploring the difference that adding good music (obviously a completely subjective thing to explore and everyone has a different idea of what is “good”…) to my life in early morning doses. Yesterday I floated down the road behind Earl after spending a very pleasant morning listening to 3 CD’s and today I took my cue from a post found inside another post on a blog I don’t even follow (well I do now!) that recommended someone called Chet Baker and I had a bit of a listen and after a bit I decided to switch to Miles Davis…glad I did :o)… (Are those castanets or crickets Miles? Miles the maestro perfectionist may just be able to mesmerise crickets to do his bidding! 😉 ) Life is all about little experiments (well mine is) where conscious efforts blend with subconscious to give added meaning and precious nuance to where I am here and now “today”. It’s so easy to get lost in processes and not really experience the moment (like dogs apparently do according to our Dorg Wheesperer Caesar Milan…) and I am LOVING this moment. I have never actually listened to Miles Davis…I KNOW! Where have I been for 49 years?

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This is the last of the poached photos from the annuls of my saved photos for today. I always have a few spare shots up my sleeve and they languish in folders till I forget to take enough photos and you end up with them. I think this meal is about 6 months old and consists of home grown rooster ground up into chicken patties served with Asian style coconut curry rice and veggies. It was quick, tasty (according to Steve) and made the most of last years roosters 🙂

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This was taken on St Patrick’s Day of one of my breakfast smoothies. I figured it was particularly fitting to have a green smoothie on St. Patricks Day 😉

I had to switch RSS feed readers yesterday. I know…my early morning life revolves around my rss feed read so obviously I was a bit twitchy to say the least when Google decided to notify me via a small box in the middle of the page saying “We are taking away your early mornings…forget about suing us because we are SO AMAZINGLY HUGE that you are merely nothing in our eyes. So long and thanks for nothing you freeloading hippy…” well, maybe in not so many words but it struck panic into my comfortable early morning routine and as soon as Steve was awake I requested an instant transition over to someplace safe, equally as good and most importantly “Free”… Steve on the case is soothing. Steve on the case is happiness and Steve got on the case and found me a new and most amazing RSS feed reader that does it all with whistles and bells in a MUCH better way than Google did and even better…it simultaneously syncs with Google reader to poach all of my feeds so I don’t have to worry about July 1st arriving and losing all of my 498 blogs that I follow…how delicious it feels to stick it to Google? Not that they care…just another faceless penniless plebeian hippy off their existential books that they don’t have to drag around their profit mongering megalith of a corporation (does anyone get the feeling that I am a bit “pissed” at Google?) anymore… I love my new feed reader already and this is amazing considering I took a year to write my first blog post because I twitched whenever I thought about the technicalities of using a blog. This sucker does it all…no more opening up other pages or trying to scroll down in blogs, it’s the bomb and it’s MUCH BETTER THAN GOOGLE READER! I might even tag it as such…”Better than Google Reader” let’s see how much traffic from hyped up angry hippies I get for THIS post eh? When a corporation gets so big that it doesn’t have to care about projecting a positive image of itself anymore and it can do whatever it likes whenever it likes without considering its users it becomes a very scary corporation… you just elevated yourself to the level of Monsanto Google…

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I shared with you a while ago about the Chinese owned orchard that they have abandoned to its fate and that was prior to this year a well watered orchard. It got no water this year and I would estimate 80% of the trees are dead. This is what they look like…

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Do these cherry trees look alive to you? Me neither…what a waste. Our government should demand that foreign owned interests are able to maintain the arable farming land that they purchase prior to the sale. This is a prime example of greedy foreign interests taking everything that they could from the land and then discarding it when it required work. The trees haven’t been pruned since they took over, the grass hasn’t been mowed and the tiny skeleton crew of Chinese people shipped in to harvest and sell the fruit were completely overwhelmed by the task at hand.

Anyone out there ever made coconut jam? I just found a recipe for it and am going to make it as an alternative to regular sugar. I am going to make some date paste today because I have been using dates in my green morning smoothies and they deliver a subtle hint of caramel sweetness and I figure that a paste would be easy to shleck into the VitaMix goblet rather than cutting the dates up finely so that I don’t have to whizz everything around for so long that it melts my ice. I am thinking about what I am going to substitute for my morning green smoothie in winter. I might keep it going but I doubt I will be adding ice! Maybe congee? I love Korean food and might go hunting for some delicious vegan preparations. This winter is going to be so different to last winter. I have my early morning habits and Brunhilda and I will be able to wake up together and start our days long before the sun rises. I also have my newfound dedication to music…currently Kenny Burrell and the longest version of “Summertime” I have ever heard but am delighting in every single note :o)…every addict indulges themselves by jumping fully clothed into the fount of their new found addiction so you are going to have to indulge me for a little while here till the novelty wears off (if it ever, indeed, does! 😉 ).

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Guy is trying to cut a hook from this poor Southern Right Gull’s foot. It got caught in a fishing net and was noticed by a local and Steve and Guy went to the rescue in The Mumbly Cumumbus…

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I don’t think the gull liked Guy hanging it upside down…check out the next shot…

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Take a close look at where the birds beak is now and guess what he did to Guy just after this shot was taken 😉

Steve is off rescuing pelicans. The other day we were walking the dogs and talking about Peak Oil and how a friend seems to be getting a bit swallowed up by it all. Steve said “No problems…we will just keep the chooks for the odd bit of meat and for eggs, feed them on veggie scraps and let them free range around the place, you can grow veggies and fruit and nuts and I can go out fishing on the high seas in the Mumbly Cumumbus and it will be like pirates stealing the tea from the English” (that last bit was because I was lamenting that I would have to start drinking dandelion root tea and we BOTH know what Earl does to our stash of dandelions…). That got us talking about pirates and Steve was immediately identified with “The Dread Pirate Roberts”…but he didn’t really suit that moniker so then we thought of Inigo Montoya from the Princess Bride, but he wasn’t really that either and we arrived at “Pirate Steve” from the movie Dodgeball… after that we decided that Earl was most definitely “Yellowbeard”…a mad lunatic that can’t be stopped…a perfect vision of Earl and then Bezial ended up as Captain Pugwash (“NO” spellchecker, I DON’T want to change that to “Captain Pigwash”!!! ) because he gets seasick on boats and would rather stay on shore. I cleverly dodged being included in this pirate invasion and chose to stay home and cook the tea because every pirate needs to come home to a nice warm meal (and preferably some grog to go with it). The Mumbly Cumumbus has had to be employed by Steve, Roxy and Guy (our friends down the road) to rescue a trapped pelican from a net. Steve cleverly remembered to take protective clothing and gloves (fool him once!) and hopefully they will be able to release the trapped bird. He has taken his camera with him so that you might be able to share in his adventure. There aren’t many pelicans in our neck of the woods and hopefully this pelican will be able to resume its lifecycle out on the Tamar River without too much damage or trauma. It wasn’t a pelican, it was a Southern Right Gull and after its rescue the rescuers got together over some good German beer and debriefed ;).

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This is the name of a cafe in Beaconsfield and we thought that you might get a chuckle out of it for St Patricks Day (albeit in the past now 😉 ). I think it is called “Pot of Gold” because it costs you an arm and a leg to shop there 😉

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Some very tame young cows and steers that decided to come over and investigate what Steve was doing today on our walk with the dogs. Take a look at that paddock and be sure to let go of winter over there you Northerners…we obviously need it here!

IT RAINED…I don’t  know whether to race about singing or just sit here stunned but it actually “rained”. The garden looks stunned. It looks flat, deflated, brown and stunned but underneath it all I can hear autumn stirring and it is GOOD! I have been thinking about how we interact with people when we blog. I did a survey once (as a bolshie bird I tend to do surveys to ensure that the social imbalances are redressed ;)) asking me about a specific blogger and what my impressions of her were. I think that when your dear constant readers start to number more than the hairs on your head you have achieved rock star status in the blog world and you get your own fan club of supporters that mass together to attempt to get you elected as President whether you want it or not. The difference between rock stars and bloggers is that the rock stars get the dosh to balance out the adoration, bloggers usually don’t. A free book and the odd surreptitious package of canned goods wouldn’t be anywhere near enough for me to lose my anonymity and with my 133 blog followers (most of them sleepers 😉 ) I feel confident that I am never going to be hustled into the white house any day soon but I do feel a distinct responsibility to you all. I feel the need to post when sometimes I might not be post worthy…I feel the need to ensure you have something nice to look at (and sometimes something not-so-nice to balance it out 😉 ) in each post and I try to channel my muses into playing the same tune in order to get something approximating “readable” to you twice a week. As a penniless student hippy I don’t “work for the man”…the man probably wouldn’t want me anymore which suits me just fine but I have my processes and blogging is now firmly one of these processes. Whenever someone new comes to join our merry eclectic (mental) little throng here on Serendipity Farm I feel like I am welcoming someone into our book club (mental asylum) or our little knitting group or our baking circle. It’s a privilege to connect with other people and to allow them to mould themselves into our circle and  Queen of everything that I see, touch and can possibly begin to imagine here on Serendipity Farm I feel like I should at least show you around a bit and give you a cup of tea (you can have a good cup but not too sure if I can find a matching saucer at the moment…it is probably covered in drying tomato seeds, cherry plum stones or something fermenting as an experiment…) and a homemade biscuit. If you seem a little shell shocked after exploring around a bit I will give you another cup of tea (still with the mismatched saucer but you are looking a bit confused and probably won’t notice…) and I might even try to revive you with one of the chocolate biscuits from the top shelf…I love how each reader and commenter has their own place here in the blog. We all share this experience because we all “make” this space. If no-one comes, it is like that tree in the forest and when it falls no-one cares. Here in this tiny patch of ether in the Southern Hemisphere we all matter, no matter how humble we are because my dear constant readers and I are not like “other people”, we have time to share if it means we are going to hear a good story. We can find the energy to appreciate your efforts, we can applaud your talents and we can laugh and cry with you when something twangs the strings of your life. Like Stephen King once said “We all float down here” and in this little sewer we are united in our endeavours :o)

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This was taken just in front of the gate down on the river bank

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An early morning shot of Bonnie Beach just before the dogs started complaining because we were taking too long to get going on our walk

It’s just about time to start the day for Steve and the boys and I have been up and functioning (at least on some rudimentary level) since 3.30am. I just finished the tidy up from my mornings online degustation menu and noticed that I had 2 spam in my Hotmail account…1 from the ubiquitous “Big Willy”, a regular visitor to my spambox and the other from “Daily Bible Verse” another spam contender from way back…I find it humorous that Big Willy and Daily Bible Verse are the only occupants of my spambox and wonder if they converse while they are languishing in perdition waiting for me to shoot them straight into the ether and wouldn’t it be fun to be a fly on that spammy little wall listening to THAT conversation! 😉 I am still imbibing heady gusts of long forgotten C.D’s and loving every moment of it. It’s cold this morning and it rained yesterday and I am starting to have hope that there really might be an autumn this year and we won’t just bypass it and go headlong into the throws of winter. You northerners (you KNOW who you are!) are hogging your winter. I read about how you are protesting about how much you can’t wait for summer but I recon its only lip service, you aren’t sharing and we need it. We NEED it folks…our summer has just about sapped everything green and vibrant and alive from our hearts, minds and souls and we need a rest of it all. We need to sit and commune and talk and share hot chocolate and wander in a garden that might be asleep but at least shows some signs of being alive rather than the flat defeated brown shards of curling leaves and sad looking half dead flowers that greet us on anything other than a run to the car. We choose to look up at the clouds as we walk down the driveway which should probably result in us falling flat on our derrières but somewhere up there the powers that be kind of like us and we have been spared the ignominy of falling down our own driveway on a regular basis.

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A closeup of a series of houses on our walk at Bonnie Beach that don’t have fences…they all coexist together and share a large common back yard. The do this because they all got together when they initially built the houses and decided that fencing would obstruct the glorious view that they have of the river and decided to do without 🙂

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I love this shot of the boys…Earl looks like he has just heard the funniest joke and Bezial actually allowed us to take a photo for once. That’s a pretty rare thing to get both boys smiling and focussed at once 🙂

Well it looks like another post just hit mammoth proportions…how do you “regular” bloggers manage to find an earlier “stop” point?! My muses would have me up at night if I didn’t share the contents of my day’s digestive tract ;). Have a great week this week folks. No matter how mundane it might appear, there are always little interesting things in your week and there is beauty everywhere, we just have to be sure to see and feel it. I think the real world has us aiming too high…focussing on a point too far away and constantly yearning (or is that “constant craving” K.D. Laing? 😉 ) for something just out of reach when really, it’s right here quietly waiting for you to notice it. I recently read a post on The Naturephile, one of the wonderful blogs that I follow. Finn (what a wonderful name, wish I had thought of this one when I was naming my son :o) ) was talking about how he was watching a murmuration of starlings dancing with a sparrowhawk while he was sitting at a red light. How many of us grab the mobile phone and start to text, grab a lippy and re-apply, start thinking about what’s for dinner and completely miss what nature is sharing with us? We get too focussed on ourselves and our goals and our days and we miss out on living outside ourselves and in companionship with the world and I get the very strong feeling that is how we managed to disassociate ourselves from reality enough to do what we have done to the earth. Go watch some gorgeous rare Red Kite’s swooping into someone’s back yard to grab some croissants (lucky they didn’t say where they throw these croissants or my U.K. doppelgänger might just have been around a bit earlier to raid the pile! 😉 )…

http://thenaturephile.com/

See you on Saturday folks…bright as buttons and hopefully more aware of what is going on outside you rather than focussing too much on your inner machinations. You never know where that kind of anti-societal behaviour is going to take you 😉 …

The power of music

Hi All,

In honour of World Permaculture Day on May 5th 2013…(YES I am early but I am giving you plenty of time 😉 )

All of us would acknowledge our own work as modest; it is the totality of such modest work that is impressive. Great changes are taking place. Why not join us in the making of a better future.

Ingenio Patet Campus. The field lies open to the intellect.”

Bill Mollison
2 May 2012

I would just like to add…don’t forget the heart Mr Mollison, for that is where you find the courage to go on in spite of overwhelming odds. Your head might get you to the starting gate but it aint gonna’ win you that race!

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This is what represents Serendipity Farm at the moment. I went for a walk to take some photos of pretty things to cheer myself up because it has been so hot and dry, but outside its actually hotter and drier than inside and all that happened was I started measuring up against places like Texas and The Gobi Desert and found us wanting so here it is…my artistic rendition of what Indian Summer represents to Serendipity Farm!

Today we found my earphones. I used to listen to music for hours on end and own a huge collection of CD’s, some of them helped me through my marriage breakup. Certain songs matched milestones, Pearl Jam “Alive”… Chumbawamba’s “Tub Thumping” EVERYTHING by The Counting Crows and Hootie and the Blowfish and a longstanding musical affair with Rob Thomas from Matchbox 20 after I won their very first CD on an early morning radio station because no-one gets up at 5am and is awake enough to phone up D.J.’s at that time of day…all except me that is…me and my early morning habits…music was always there. I chose it. After I left my ex-husband and we vindictively divided up the C.D.’s I wore my music as a badge of courage and I hid behind it and wore my heart on my sleeve as I tried to work my way through the processes of unpicking a long standing relationship. Music is a bit like that nose/sniffing thing that I mentioned in the post before last. Music can hoist me high or lay me low and it takes me places that I have stumbled through before. Steve was hunting for something in the middle room built-in’s the other day and came out with a large stack of CD cases and reignited my love affair with music and infusing my brain with it as I type and think and hunt online. The next step was to give me anonymity. Steve likes to watch television unhindered by loud music so we needed to supply me with earphones. Steve retrieved his headphones from his music cupboard but they are those old fashioned Cyberman headphones and hurt my ears after I wear them for a while (which I inevitably do) and I remembered my funky set of Mochi earphones that I bought for my MP3 player when I used to go everywhere with music. I lost the time to listen to music and found myself “doing” more and ended up giving my MP3 player to my daughter and I promptly “Forgodaboudit”. We still had Youtube marathons into the night but no solo forays until Steve found my mochi’s and now I am hooked. It’s like I never left! My early mornings are going to be peppered with music. My very first CD that I listened to was Ben Folds 5. Next was Jeff Buckley and “Hallelujah” still makes me cry. Next The Whitlam’s opening number “There’s No Aphrodisiac” and who knows who after that…The Clash? Maybe Mark Knopfler “Sailing to Philadelphia?” How about Ben Harper “Diamonds on the Inside”? or ANYTHING from John Butler before he split with his trio…so many old friends that have been waiting patiently for me to get my mojo back…”I’m back!” :o)

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My favourite of the 50 Pumpkins…this one I could eat! 😉

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The first carrot cake that I can remember that I made that actually turned out! Usually they are tasteless or too wet or just plain ornery but this wonderful sourdough version turned out perfectly! Audrey, you are a star 🙂

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A close-up of the gorgeous crumb. Half is in the freezer and the other half is rapidly receding into Steve

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Isn’t this pretty? It’s Steves creation. I made pastry with grated butter straight from the fridge that made gorgeous flaky pastry. I also cooked a lot of potatos (steamed) and Steve cooked a heap of caramelised onions with chilli and made a delicious rich cheesy sauce and combined it all in layers with cooked capsicum (peppers) and made a fantastic (and most enormous) vegetarian pie.

Its Monday 11th of march and Douglas Adams would have been 61. His candle burned very brightly for a short time. I met Steve because of my early adoration of Douglas Adams. I read every single one of his books and was introduced to philosophy through their pages. Prior to reading the “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” trilogy, I had never thought much about life, the universe and everything. The sky was up there and I sometimes lay on my back in the evening looking up at the stars and thinking about how small I was but not much more. Adams introduced me to thought processes outside my comfort zone and to the number 42. When my son was small he was given a small wooden mouse with a leather tail. We called him “Slartibardfast” and despite losing his tail in an early accident (children are curious…) he managed to stay with us through moves all over Western Australia. I have no idea where he is now or if Stewart still has him but I would imagine he would be in an ancient sandpit in a house in the Western Australian fringe outback as I type this. I actually owe my love of Douglas Adams books for meeting Steve. My son, Stewart, then 14, got tired of me complaining about having nothing to do and showed me how to use the internet. I could only type with 1 finger and back then (last century circa 1997) the net was populated by chat rooms, places where you picked yourself a little avatar that you associated with and you waited to jump into someone’s conversation. There were so many different chat rooms and I remember scrolling down the exponentially increasing list in awe and thinking “Where do I start?” As a Luddite technophobe the temptation was to just give up before I started but I chose a room called “Comic Chat” and entered. When I got inside there were reams and reams of text scrolling down the page and despite my best efforts to tap away with 1 finger, by the time I had anything typed the conversations had moved on…I was somewhat bemused at the speed of my brain being entirely unrepresentative of what was coming out of my fingers! I ended up just sitting there watching words scroll maniacally across the page till one sentence hit me…”What is the meaning of life?”…I had a SHORT ANSWER to that one! I quickly (well…quickly for someone who didn’t even know where the number keys were 😉 ) typed back “42!”…little was I to know that this was Steve’s final hurrah online. He had been tapping away for months trying to connect with likeminded people. His friend (also Steve) had gotten him into computers via gaming and he had been making brief but frustrated forays into the chatting world and had decided that he would ask this one question and if he didn’t get a satisfactory answer he was out of there for good! My very first sentence online would seal my fate for the rest of my life. How fitting and how poignant that Mr Douglas Adams would be my teacher and would deliver my ultimate happiness to me via being brave enough to step out into a brave new world. Cheers Douglas and Stewart for my new life, I couldn’t have done it without either of you :o). I saw the Google homepage tribute to Douglas Adams this morning and raced to Facebook to laud him but my sister Pinky had gotten there first. Oh well… I can get there first here! ;). I headed off into the ether for a few moments to find out about how 42 equates with life, the universe and everything and there are some very interesting connotations to the number 42. You can read about them here on my old paraphrasing friend Wikipedia if you are so interested. Aside from being interesting, this page was written by someone with more than a brain cell or two (which lends this Wiki page a bit more weight) because it is littered with some mighty fine scientific backup and there are some very amazing things that start with or end with 42…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/42_(number)

I found another page where Mr Adams had decided to give his view about Australia. A most humorous and fitting small article about us antipodeans that is well worth a few moments of your time to read…

http://www.jumbles.com/douglas_adams.htm

Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchet are my favourite fiction authors. It is curious to see that Douglas Adams died so young and that Terry Pratchet is facing his own slow demise at such an early age. Perhaps their brilliance in literature could only burn so bright for a short time? Was it worth it? As someone who has gained more than she could have possibly imagined from both of them and learned so much in the process I salute both of these amazing men and am reminded how “The Old Country” has spawned such a magnificent array of talented artists in all realms. I am bordering on sounding like an Anglophile there! Best stop that quick smart or I will have to hand back my Bolshie workers party pin (along with my Vegan confraternity pin after eating that Beurre bosc pear along with its previous occupier…)

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This is our half of the wonderful stash of natural soil ammendments that Steve Solomon recomended for our soil. Just to ensure there are no readers sending animal protection around…that lime isn’t actually to deal with “moles”. We don’t get moles here in Australia…it’s from a place called “Mole Creek” in Tasmania 🙂

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If nothing else grows on Serendipity Farm in the middle of the hot dry weather these most certainly do! Dandelions are loving the weather and are enjoying the extended Indian Summer

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Kid Creole on the left and his “Coconuts” on the right

We humans have art to express ourselves. Some of us are artistically challenged when it comes to attempting to reproduce what we see around us pictorially but then visual representation is only one of the ways that we are able to reach out and communicate with other people. Neither Steve nor I are dab hands with a paint brush, let alone a pencil. The fact that having to draw 50 pumpkins each for our Media design course (in an attempt to make us think about how to represent a pumpkin in 50 different ways) has us twitching and procrastinating when we have finished the rest of this unit should go a long way to showing you how desperately untalented we both are at drawing anything other than crazed stick men (Steve) and lopsided spheres (me). It’s curious that we should both adhere to other artistic pursuits though. Steve is very musical. He spent his misspent youth dabbling in the art of suspicious substances, enormous quantities of alcohol and generally “muckin’ abart” as a lad with his gang of mates. He had the dubious honour of being alive and of an influential age when Old Blighty was going through a rolling succession of workers strikes and Maggie Thatcher ruled supreme with an iron fist. Whenever inequality and hard times strike it brings out the quintessential artist in the working class and suddenly punk was born, closely followed by the rise of the first set of Goths…Steve straddled both classes and walked the fine line between the two. As a child he was exposed to music as a way of life. His father was a musician in a band and knew Ringo Starr of The Beatles fame. Steve picked up a guitar as a small child and by the time his teenaged angst hit it was second nature to use a guitar to fend off the blues. Steve used to be very shy and his guitar was the weapon that he used to fend off the world and give himself a medium to communicate. When I met him he had been teaching guitar for a few years and had a steady clientele of students and a quiet but comfortable life. Steve has 13 guitars (if you count a lap steel as a “real” guitar that is 😉 ) and has learned to bypass music as a means to communicate. He is now comfortable in his skin and is nowhere near as shy as he was when we first met but his music is a quintessential part of him and his first guitar, a white strat that he bought back in the 80’s, will be buried with him when he leaves the earth.

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I don’t even know what this mad weed is. I know it is a garden plant but it has gone mental all over the place and is another lover of this extended hot weather

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I am not sure what this tree is (there goes my horticultural street cred 😉 ) BUT I know it was on it’s last legs in it’s pot and we planted it out to give it a chance to die in the soil and we haven’t watered it once all summer and it is thriving! Apparently it must taste foul to wallabies and possums because it is putting on foliage and seems to love where we planted it go figure!

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This variagated sedum was almost completely consumed by duckies sister. She had a craze for eating our succulents and cacti and when she disappeared the xeriscape plant massacre stopped.

I was born to communicate…not always effectively but sometimes sheer volume can make up for a lack of direction and like Billy Connelly before me, I have learned the value of persistence…eventually you will get to the point! ;). I too was an incredibly shy child. I had a complete lack of drive and direction and life had been buffeting me around for 34 years before I decided to make my life count. As a result I left one marriage and embarked on a new life. All I knew at the time was that I wanted to really “live”. I didn’t want to arrive at the Pearly Gates and have my cap in my hand and nothing to show for the time that I was given. I couldn’t justify my existence and that was a terrifying thing. Why was I here? Why did “I” get this chance when millions of babies die each year or are not given the chance to even be born? I had to know or at least live a more worthwhile life and after leaving my husband of 15 years I headed off into the wilderness to think. I had never had time to think, or be myself before. I jumped straight from the terror of school into early motherhood and lost myself in the process…I was a pure example of how to function without thought. I can see how easy it is for people to just give themselves up to the processes like robots and how it would be such a tragedy to wake up at 65 and find yourself retired, married to someone you hardly know and suddenly having to face up to the fact that you haven’t done much with your life. I had my mid-life crisis at 34. After my marriage dissolved along with my family (my son chose to stay with my ex and I had to let him make his choice) I took my daughters and started a new life. I had 12 years of education, half a year spent having the BEST time at teachers college (before I got thrown out 😉 ) and a complete lack of a working history if you disregard 6 months spent working for a fish and chip shop and 2 months spent working in a café when I was 15. I was bewildered, terrified, completely unprepared for my new life and as a mother and a prize rabbit (August 1963 put me square in Chinese bunny territory) I was a perfect example of a rabbit bedazzled by life’s headlights. I spent a lot of time finding myself and my daughters will tell you that they were severely neglected. The poor little darlings were obviously left to fend for themselves…eating hotdogs out of an electric kettle and living under a rug…that’s how they tell the story…I remember it a bit differently girls! ;). I remember pulling the girls out of school when the sun was shining and it was too nice a day to be cooped up and driving them out to the tall Jarrah trees and we had a picnic with honey icecream cones purchased from Bartholomew’s Meadery on the way to the trees. We took Barbie and Woody along for the ride and they actually got married on a mossy log under the trees…I remember doing the same (some might say irresponsible, I say “enlightened”) thing on another lovely day when we drove out to a far off beach in Albany and just wandered around feeling our space in the world. If I was living under societal conventions I might feel a bit guilty about my daughters early childhood. More so because of allowing my ex to constantly move around to satisfy his need to climb the hierarchal ladder in his chosen profession but I have since learned that children who are cossetted and not given a modicum of freedom to explore the parameters of their world on their own and who are not taught the value of life lessons and the responsibilities of the natural world never grow up to be independent thinkers. We might have eaten hotdogs from a kettle girls BUT that was because the gas bottle ran out and I didn’t have enough money to buy another one. I remember it as fun…you might have been under a rug while I tapped away to a man thousands of miles away in a completely different timeframe but at least when he eventuated on the scene he didn’t take over your lives or try to change you in any way. The world has a way of communicating what we REALLY need to us, often against what our own perceived views of the world might be. It’s a true to life case of “You can’t always get what you want…but if you try sometimes…you get what you need”.

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A line of drought hardy nerines all heralding the autumn that just won’t come

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No sign of that lovely red lily from Saturday but look what I found growing right next to the spent stem! This little crocus has managed to grow and flower in the middle of the worst drought we have had in years! Again, you just can’t pick what will and won’t grow here 🙂

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There are at least 2 mango seedlings that grew from the mango seeds that I tossed into the compost and we will make sure that they are protected for their first winter on Serendipity Farm and after that they will be planted out in the food forest. I LOVE free plants 🙂

I would like to appologise to my children for being a somewhat absent mother for a few years there. I DO feel a level of guilt for having to tear you away from your lives but I know that what I did gave us all back our lives including my ex who is now happily married with another child. What might seem chaotic and devastating can be seen from the distance of memory to be very different clothing. My communication…my “art” if you will is my desire to represent my world and my view of the world in words. I might stumble over myself and I might have to endlessly check my spelling because my fingers can’t match the speed at which my myriad muses want me to type but there is a fire inside me and like all good bushfires, it won’t quit till one of its ignition sources is quenched and that doesn’t look like happening any day soon. Maybe one of my parents should have realised that I had a penchant for words and steered me into journalism…My parents had their own battles and I didn’t factor into their peripherals much so I was pretty much on my own when it came to trying to work out what life, the universe and everything meant to me as a child and a young adult. I owe my ex-husband a lot. Aside from my children, he spent the 15 years that we were together plodding along following his own set of processes to give us all what we physically needed to survive. He kept it all together when we were really falling apart and for that, I owe you Robert. I am not sorry that I left you and now that you are happy on the other side of Australia I feel somewhat vindicated in my choices. This post has been somewhat cathartic! I didn’t intend it to be a treatise about my life but in a round-about way it is. Mr Adams gave me a focal point and the key to the door that opened up my new life. 42 was indeed, my meaning of life moment. If you step outside your comfort zone and you dare to take a walk on the wild side, even if it is for only just a short time, you might just find your reason. I know…I did :o).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PkGrkNu6mDg

A waltz with the front gate

Hi All,

I have been on a journey of discovery lately and realise that I am indeed at my happiest when I have little well-worn ruts to follow. I like to embellish my ruts but I do like to run my life over their smooth edges and know that I have been here before and that there are no monsters waiting to jump out at me as I hack my way through unfamiliar tundra with the twin machetes of adventure and change. I realise that I am bucking current societal trends here. I don’t really care. Society hasn’t ever been one of my primary concerns and you are all just lucky that I don’t have (or at least exhibit…) psychopathic tendencies. I again found myself gliding along a path well-trodden when I opened the gate yesterday…I felt my passenger seat dance starting halfway down the driveway…”hand lightly resting on the door release…1…2…3…OPEN the door…out and 1…2…3…steps to the gate…key in the padlock and TWIST…flip the gate catch and 1…2…3…release the gate…hook up the metal rod holding the other gate in place and “click” into place…now comes the dance…walking with the gate and pirouetting deftly to turn and walk back with the gate…1…2…3…”pirouette”…1…2…3…”turn” now reach for the other gate and 1…2…3…pull it back to the first gate, drop the metal rod into its hole in the ground, flip over the latch…”click” the padlock closed and 1…2…3…back to the car and away! As I ruminated about where we were going I suddenly realised that I had entirely choreographed our entry and exit from our property…I had taken my familiar task and tarted it up to make it mine. I guess my well-worn pathways might be entirely familiar BUT I have most certainly made them my own and as anyone who knows me well will tell you…there is usually a bit of a twist…my personal choice of soundtrack for my newly discovered gate waltz shall be the late great Keith Floyd’s own personal soundtrack for his series of booze sodden foodie adventures and the song that Steve travelled all the way to London when he was 14 to hear The Stranglers perform first up in the opening night of their 1979 tour at The Hammersmith Odeon in London… “

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

Waltzinblack by the stranglers … How cool is it that I am married to an original retro punk turned Goth! I am still waiting for the “cool” to rub off on me though! As the summer starts to heat up we are just starting to get stuck into our garden. It’s a situation that we would rather have accomplished earlier in the year when the soil wasn’t setting like porcelain and we had a lot more rain but such is the life of a perpetual student and it all adds to the fact that we sleep like babies every night after a hard days slog in the garden. I just have to add quickly here…I am NOT going to endorse Dawn French as a writer. I did my best Dawn…I admire you incredibly as an actress but I don’t think you are going to give anyone a run for their money as a writer :o(…back to what we are doing…we have spent the past few days cutting ex-fish farm netting and removing rope and yesterday (Thursday) we finally got to the point where we could start nailing it to the poles that we have already dug into the ground. We used the rocks that hamper our every move when trying to navigate the world below the ground as our allies this time and once we managed to dig a hole deep enough for the poles (no easy feat…believe me!) we backfilled the holes with various sized rocks and sledgehammered them in to wedge our poles in place. We are not expecting ninjas to be climbing this fence but you would be surprised at the heft a well fed possum can apply to a sagging chook fence so we took this into consideration when burying our poles.

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Earthstar fungus that we found on a recent early morning dog walk

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The ghost of teasels past and present

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I am amazed that these Melaleuca’s are able to grow and flourish whilst being subject to spending several hours a day under salt water

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Samphire growing amongst the pebbles on Paper Beach

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part of the beach circuit that we sometimes walk with the boys

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A bag full of tiny pinecones that we collected to use for Christmas crafts

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Taken at night time of the moon over the river

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Isn’t this yucca flower spike amazing?

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Looking back across the river towards our place

We took our first 20metre x 2.5 metre length of netting and managed to get halfway around our designated area before the skies opened and it rained for the rest of the afternoon…a most curious eventuality because the only other rain that we have had for a while now occurred when we were digging the poles into the ground…I am starting to see a pattern here and whenever we need rain from now on I am going to stand on the deck and pronounce loudly to the ears in the sky that “I am just heading off to the chook yard to dig/nail/windmill my arms around”. Never let it be said that I can’t adapt to the status quo! It’s Friday and we are going to attempt to finish off our new chook pen today. Once we have finished the boundary fence we can start piling up rocks around the outside to prevent the quolls from tunnel mining and reducing our already reduced population of girls. We have already thought of this and will keep shutting them into the fully enclosed roost at night…so many country lessons to learn and so little time to learn them in! After we finish the chook pen we have a plethora of tasks to wade through…piles of woody debris will be relocated, feral cats will be dealt with, irrigation will be constructed and placed and mountains of green waste will be consumed in a matter of minutes by a massive hungry (and most prohibitively expensive) hired mulcher. We plan on removing old overgrown “hedging” (now half dead and as ugly as sin) from the boundary between Serendipity Farm and the church below and in the process removing an entire thriving population of banana passionfruit clinging tenaciously to the half dead Robinia below. We will do the same thing with the sad Robinia “hedge” at the front of the property and will plant out a series of cherry plum trees interspersed with conifers as our own personal statement about what this property is becoming. The church might have to put up with our exposed chook coop but our remaining girls (we like to refer to them as “The Chosen One’s”…) will get a million dollar view of the river and let’s be honest here…the churchies come once a week…our girls will be in situ 24/7 so we figure the ball is in their court

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We are getting some lovely weather here in Tasmania at the moment

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Daredevil Steve relying on his old ability to skateboard to keep his balance while the most unpredictable of creatures frolic at the end of their newfound freedom giving long ropes

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I love the smooth pebbles and rocks on Paper Beach

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A barnacle heart!

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More barnacle love 🙂

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This little crane really didn’t want to move despite me walking Earl at the time…

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The Batman Bridge that connects the West Tamar to the East Tamar

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It’s hardly fun when the best thing to steal is a manky old wizened lemon…

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Earl typing his resume

I am gearing up for my new year and my new year’s ethos. I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions…I just decide to effect a bit of change and as my “Year of Living Honestly” slowly slides into oblivion I can feel a “Year of Living Productively and Proactively” making that smooth baton change into place and I can’t wait to take the simple truths that I have learned this year and start working with them. I want to hone my skills (such as they are) and polish what I have been learning to turn it from raw earth into a perfect, rock hard Hikaru Dorodango of simple but incredible beauty. I want to move forward and sideways at the same time and I want to learn…oh MAN I want to learn!  That was just very curious…”Word” wanted me to change the first “learn” to “teach”…I want to teach? Not yet I don’t! I am too busy indulging myself in the wonder of learning as much as I can…it is no wonder that I sometimes have trouble finding what I want to say…my poor head is crammed so fun of “stuff” it makes my rss feed reader appear positively Spartan. I am also going to learn to hone my words…to take the mass of tangled bits and pieces that all clamour to be heard and listen carefully to each one to see if it really has a tale to tell. It’s year 2 of “The Road to Serendipity” and as with all serendipitous things, the true beauty of it lies in what you make of it…your choices. Next year you can look forward to shorter but more poignant posts and for all of my dear constant readers who have steadfastly refused to give up on my massive reflections…thank you and you SHALL go to the ball! ;)…before I go, here is a delightful English translation of how to make your own hikaru dorodango closely followed by another excellent tutorial. You know me, I can’t just go with the very first thing that I see 😉 …I will be making a Serendipity Farm dorodango to grace my curio cabinet and should you feel like making one yourself consider it my little gift to you…a study in patience 😉

http://www.kyokyo-u.ac.jp/youkyou/4/english4.htm

http://makeprojects.com/Project/Hikaru+Dorodango/1058/1

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A few Christmassy pictures to get you in the mood…Earl making snow…

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The first Christmas Beetle of the season…

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Steve performing magic with the Christmas Tree Lights…

Hava nagila!

Hi All,

Aside from being a most catchy song that I have NO idea what the words are and would no doubt make a fistful of Jewish people collapse hysterically laughing on the floor should I EVER be stupid enough to attempt to sing my erstwhile version in their close proximity, the name Hava Nagila means “Let us rejoice”! I have SO much to rejoice that I often feel guilty for having the odd whinge about how rocky our soil is and how many weeds we have here on Serendipity Farm. I just got back from a visit to my daughter’s home in Launceston. I had a really great time with them both and we spent a large proportion of the time that we had together cooking. My daughters are amazing cooks. Neither of them has ever studied technique or worked in the industry but they are very adventurous and tend to pair some very interesting ingredients that I would never think could possibly work together but incredibly…they do! The first night we had chilli. I had vegan chilli made with some ingredients that I had brought along with me (oh ye of little faith! 😉 ) and it was delicious. I think there is still a bowl of it in the girl’s fridge and I am sure that they will find something creative to do with it. On night 2 we had an amazing feast. The girls have recently become enamoured with all things Korean and had purchased some Korean cookbooks and some mixed cookbooks with Korean recipes in them. We decided to have a go at some of the recipes and ended up spending a marathon 5 hours preparing and cooking 12 dishes that were all amazing and that teamed up to make an amazing feast. We made cucumber salads, spinach side dishes, 3 different kinds of “pancakes” ranging from a very normal pancake type batter topped with spring onions (which we couldn’t buy at the local shop and had to sub the next best thing…leek…so from hereon in, wherever I specify “spring onion” you will have to insert “leek” 😉 ) and chillies through to a very inventive recipe using dried split green peas (which we couldn’t find in their local small supermarket on the day we wanted them but found the day after…go figure!) and rice cooked together then pureed and combined with various finely sliced vegetables and cooked like pancakes. The girls eat meat and so made some rice balls filled with smoked salmon and avocado which are technically not Korean and were based on a Japanese recipe BUT they were amazing and I had oyster mushrooms, pickled ginger and avocado in mine. They also had some marinated Korean chicken drumsticks and a pork dish that I can’t quite remember what it was but it looked good. We ended this marathon degustatory event with some simple but incredibly delicious yeasted pancakes that looked more like doughnuts without holes and that were stuffed with crushed palm sugar, roasted peanuts and cinnamon and that were amazing.

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Steve says that this truck is a transformer…the only thing that I can see it transforming is an empty space into a space full of wood chips…

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Another “Steve” shot…apparently this is ANOTHER transformer…I think we are being overrun by them!

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Right behind a new estate in Exeter are the remains of an old abandoned orchard. Steve, Bezial, Earl and I went exploring today and found all different kinds of apples, pears and even a nectarine tree out in the open and just waiting to be scrumped by possums and wayfaring Sidmouth Scrumpers

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By the look on his face, this scrumper has had enough of wandering around old abandoned orchards and wants to return to the civilisation afforded by 2 streets back to the main street 😉

On night 3 we could have been forgiven for having something very simple but not us! We went the way of the home made pizza. The girls used a cookbook that mum had given us last year full of homemade pizza recipes and as I have had more experience cooking with yeast, I made the dough. We made 3 batches of dough because we made a pizza for Steve (because he had obviously been a bit jealous of our cooking exploits over the weekend) and one for the girl’s dog Qi who has an adventurous palate for a dog and who gets very interesting meals. The girls made an almost “regular” type of pizza topped with chicken, a spicy hot salami, pine nuts and “other things” that I didn’t really notice as I was busy slathering tomato paste on pizza bases and ensuring that the cheese flow kept going. They also made an interesting combination of prawns, chicken, various other things (again…applied while I was otherwise occupied so I would only be speculating about exactly what went on) and coconut. I don’t think that Beth was enamoured of this pizza but Madeline seemed to like it. Qi got a meaty pizza and Steve got his favourite things (hot salami, chicken, onion, capsicum, chilli, mushroom and vintage cheese) and he has stashed it in the freezer for a delicious quick meal for the coming week when we have to finish off the chook pen and are too knackered to cook (smart man! 😉 ). I typed out lots of recipes from the cookbooks that the girls purchased and they gave me a couple of CD’s by a Korean band called Winterplay that do some really good covers of popular songs and I will be listening to them whilst trying to wade my way through my 1000+ rss feed reader blog posts that struck terror into even my seasoned mass blog reading heart when I got up this morning. If you would like to hear them and check out just how good this band is you can hear them covering “Don’t know why” a Norah Jones hit and can see why I really like them

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OVhzK01Jmq4

That’s my bit for spreading the love people…I would have NEVER heard of this wonderful band if it hadn’t been for my adventurous daughters and their adventurous palates…it’s time spent like the weekend that I just had that reinforce the value of family and of simple time spent together. No matter how ragged or crumpled your family is, it’s the closest thing to “you” that you have. Spend time with your children…spend time with your parents…heal those wounds (if there are any to heal) and get back together with the people that really do matter the most, your own flesh and blood and the people that will tell you the truth (sometimes with great gusto 😉 ). I love you girls and can’t begin to thank you for that wonderful weekend…even Bella Lugosi in Chandu the Magician, a 1932 movie that we watched to fill the Bella free zone that Beth needs to quench on a regular basis. We even watched Lilo and Stitch which I really hadn’t watched before and that I enjoyed disproportionately to what I thought that I would. I especially love this drawing that was on the fridge and that we have used as a family in joke for years without me even having watched the reference for this joke…

http://tinypic.com/view.php?pic=2vmiiw4&s=5

In a word, I did all sorts of things that I don’t usually do. I adjusted to Madeline’s stringent washing up rollcall and exactly how to put it back where it goes…I slept with Qi and learned how to contort my middle aged body into the human equivalent of a pretzel to accommodate her desire to spread out over as much of the bed as she could possibly take up and I adjusted my getting up time to fit in with the girls going to bed time. Who would have known…a change really IS as good as a holiday :o)

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Stage 1 of banksia flower development…

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Stage 2…

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and finally stage 3

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If you can avert your eyes from the insect nuptuals going on towards the top of this shot (I can’t pinpoint it exactly for you because I am averting my eyes!), this is a bottlebrush flower

Peter Cundall, Mr organic garden show ABC television presenter himself and who lives not too far away from Serendipity Farm told us that this was going to be a bit of a stinker this summer in Tasmania. Stinker as in heat…not as in smell. I tend to agree with him because things run in cycles and they tend to be 4 yearly in Tasmania. We have mild years and hot years and this just so happens to coincide with our first year in Tasmania where our first full summer was a real eye opener because we thought that we were going to be cold and we discovered just how hot it can be here and our first winter was so cold we got chilblains and didn’t even know what they were.  We are more aware of the seasons here now and know it is going to be hot when we start seeing the cicada husks stuck to the
grass. This year we can hear them getting the band tuned nice and early and by the time mid-summer gets here they will have coordinated themselves into a wall of united stomach rasping. We won’t see them for at least 4 more years because their life cycle takes that long for them to reach adulthood and emerge from under the ground. At least the native birdlife get a “Hava nagila” moment of their own with plenty of free clicking protein for all!

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

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Aside from me looking like I am doing some sort of a sailors hornpipe dance you can begin to get an idea of how lucky we were to get not 1 roll, but 2 of these rolls of ex-fish farm netting. There are about 50 more of them up for grabs and we will be putting our hands up for as many rolls as they would like to let us have. We have also removed that blue rope and are storing it in Steve’s shed for posterity…(I think “posterity” is like “hoarding” 😉 ).

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Looking back the other way towards the house. We will get 4 x 2.5 metre x 20 metre lengths of this netting that should be enough to enclose our wayfaring chooks and keep them from digging halfway to China in their endeavours to have dustbaths all over Serendipity Farm

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One of the Brachychitons that we liberated from anarchy and chaos earlier in the year that hadn’t flowered in years and that is absolutely covered in flowers this year. Now all we have to do is pull all of that dead dodder from around it’s leaves and it might stand a chance of surviving for a few years more

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A cicada husk…one of many (it’s going to be a noisy Christmas this year on Serendipity Farm!)

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A close-up of garnet particles used to sandblast the Batman Bridge before it gets repainted

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Christmas wreath (and all sorts of other project) futures!

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Harvested willow…the rest is up to me!

It’s suddenly Wednesday and after heading over to Exeter to send Steve’s mum a calendar and pick up some library books and giving the dogs a good walk in the process we spent the day productively by measuring one of the large rolls of ex-fish farm netting that we got a little while ago. We were told that it was 20 metres long by 10 metres wide and after measuring it we think it’s probably a good estimate. We should have enough in a single roll to complete our chook shed reno and the other roll can be used to fully enclose our vegetable garden. We have been promised more of this precious commodity in the near future and we are going to get creative with it and use it to protect our small possum weary orchard and other areas that we don’t want the possums to invade. We cut a 2.5 metre wide strip from the first roll using the knives that we bought for grafting. We haven’t grafted much with them but we have at least used them for something! In the process we liberated 20 metres of strong thick nylon rope and tomorrow we will liberate 20 metres more. No idea what we are going to do with all of the rope but you can never have enough rope out in the country ;). After we finished cutting the rope from the netting we folded the netting up and set it aside…part 1 of the chook shed. By the time we finish we will have 4 x 20 metre long segments that we are going to attach to poles that we have already installed where we want to re-educate our chooks into who is the boss around here. It was getting pretty warm under the hole in the ozone layer that is our bright blue sky here in Tasmania so we headed off to put some stakes into the veggie garden to hold our rapidly growing tomatoes and prevent them from lying against the bird netting and being nibbled by waiting varmints. I guess the varmints are pruning the wayfaring branches for us but for now, they have been trussed up and the varmints are going to have to wait. I took a few photos of how our vegetables are going and it’s amazing to see how quickly vegetables will grow when you give them enough sunshine, food and water. The only thing that grows faster is the weeds :o(

We headed over to the East side of the Batman Bridge where there is a free camping ground and a large willow tree just waiting for clever locals to harvest to collect some willow canes to make our Christmas Wreath from. I had a bit of an altercation with a local redneck who had been racially abusing some Chinese tourists but nothing that Earl and I couldn’t handle ;). I heard on the news today that 52% of Tasmanian year 8 students are not able to meet the benchmark for mathematics. That joins our dubious honour of having 1 in 2 native born Tasmanians who can’t read or write adequately. Education needs to be pushed hard in this state. I guess it has worked to our politician’s advantage, up until now, to have an uneducated and unquestioning public who leave politics to the “experts” but now that the forest industry is on the verge of total collapse it is rapidly becoming obvious that most Tasmanians are ill equipped to do anything other than cut down trees with chainsaws and a subclass of bored, unemployed rednecks is going to be a significant problem for tomorrows politicians and the heinously understaffed police force that was cut to the bone recently in a vain attempt to reign in the budget deficit. I sometimes feel like banging my head on the wall when I (stupidly) watch the local news. I am not a particularly politically motivated person but blind Freddy could see just how inept and self-serving our politicians are and the really REALLY scary thing is that there isn’t any viable alternative for us to vote for. It’s equally as scary how quickly I can turn rabid whenever I consider our endemic politicians so I might just stop RIGHT THERE for today :o)

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Some Serendipity Farm “Yellow Nugget” cherry tomatoes

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One bed staked…

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and the other…

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Can anyone “splain” to me why this tomato plant seems hell bent on only growing horizontally? Nick (our ex-long suffering lecturer) took a most entrepreneurial view of our crazy tomato predicament and said “save the seed…make sure it stays true to type and only grows horizontally and then sell it for vertical and hanging baskets…make a fortune!”…cheers Nick, but I think you have us confused for entrepreneurs rather than lazy bums…(our subterfuge worked! 😉 )

We are still getting used to having time on our hands to do things other than study. It has been lovely to get stuck into working around the house and we have even started using the calendar that comes with using Google as our home page to keep us moving in the right direction. I picked up Dawn French’s first fiction work today from the library and am going to give it a whirl around the dance floor and see how she twirls. I also picked up the cold climate permaculture book about Hepburn Springs by David Holmgren because I now have time to read it from cover to cover like it deserves. Helen, the library lady, had put a book aside about making your own beauty products for me. She sometimes sees a book that she thinks that I might like and puts it on the shelf along with my ordered books. Cheers Helen, I like the look of some of the recipes inside and goodness only knows I can do with a slather or two of natural unguents if they will lend me an air of respectability once in a while ;). We have a full week of sorting out the chook house and then finding homes for 20+ hens. If anyone wants some prime year old egg laying (if you can find them 😉 ) hens, let me know. I had entertained giving them the chop and filling our freezer but entertaining and doing are 2 very different things. Roosters can be rationalised but hens in their prime cannot. After we make the chook coop we will be hurling ourselves headlong into all sorts of projects that we isolated from our Tuesday meeting where we had a bit of a confab about what direction we wanted to go in (preferably forwards) and how setting a few goals might actually cause us to follow through on a few of our plans.

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The rocket, lettuce, perpetual spinach, capsicum and chilli bed

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Not too sure what you do with perpetual spinach but at least we have one! 😉

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Aren’t lettuces pretty?

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Can you see the adventitious little tomato plant that grew from last years compost placed reverently in this garden bed? We think that it is one of Wendy’s lovely heritage tomatoes and it has a sibling in the next bed going great guns. I will let you know what they turn out like…by the way there is an aphid on the tomato…it won’t last long because the veggie gardens are seething with little lizards that seem to be doing a sterling job on cleaning up the tiny grasshoppers that have been attracted to the veggie garden like moths to a light. A fine example of integrated pest management at it’s finest 🙂

It’s time to think about posting this post now and after I do, I will head up to the veggie garden and will pick some mushrooms, some lettuce, some rocket and some spinach to make Steve a side salad to go with his evening meal. Living close to the ground is about as rewarding as it gets and I am going to have to get pretty close to the ground to harvest that lettuce! See you all on Saturday when we may just have that chook yard sorted out and I might just have some photos to share with you of some stunned looking enclosed chooks and Yin with his beak through the netting protesting his newfound confinement…Tasmania is a penal colony of old sir…get used to it! 😉

By the way…anyone who would like to have a chance to win Steve’s hand made spoon has 10 days to let us know. At the moment there are only 10 people in the draw and Earl thinks that they are pretty good odds. We have a lot more walnuts than “10” so please feel free to enter the spoon draw…only 10% of you want to win? Think of Steve’s pride! 😉

A study in Irony

Hi All,

As I alluded to in Wednesdays post this will be Post 1 in a series of gutter posts. If you spend as much time walking dogs as we do you tend to be well versed in gutters and their foibles. If you walk strong dogs you might even get dragged into gutters occasionally and if you live in Tasmania you usually get to see more than your fair share of rubbish laying in these gutters. After Bezials recent attempt to break the world parkour record (and failed epically mind you) I found myself walking Earl myself and pounding the gutters alone. I was on my way home from one of my recent solo ventures when I picked up a coke zero bottle from the gutter as a token prize for Earl when he got home to take his mind off the tastiness of our leather sofas. Up until now we haven’t had too much trouble with Earl and the sofa’s but you never know…better safe than sorry and so if we plant to head out into the garden for an extended period of time (which spring tends to bring out in us…) we like to provide Earl with something other than the cushions of our sofa to exercise his teeth on. Plastic soft drink bottles (yes…here in Australia we call them soft drinks…you may titter now my dear constant American readers…) are one of Earl’s favourite things to while away time left abandoned and alienated from his pack. Bezial is still there but he is usually too busy sulking about his own abandonment to want to play with Earl so keeping Earls mandibles occupied is a reasonable precautionary measure. As I picked up the coke bottle I noticed that it contained an empty snickers bar wrapper. I thought to myself “how ironic that someone was drinking coke zero and in some alternate universe thought that this was going to negate the calories from the snickers bar?!”… I then got to thinking about irony and how it should really be my middle name…”Frances Irony Pimblett”…

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This is the coke zero bottle that spawned this post

The irony is that this coke bottle symbolifies so very much that our society is kidding itself about. “If you eat broken Tim-tams (a most delicious chocolate Australian biscuity version of crack cocaine…) and drink them with diet coke you won’t put on any calories… who are we kidding?! The diet industry has us panicking about anything that we put in our mouths…supported by the dieticians and food scientists that constantly elevate foods to “superfood status” and then pull the rug out from under them by finding out that they cause cancer or that rats that ate them had spasms or developed terrible twitching habits. How many people spend a fortune buying “diet” and “lite” versions of foods only to find out that what they are putting in their mouths is ironically packing on the pounds! As I looked at the coke zero bottle in my hand and tried to keep Earl from stealing it from me I noticed the shape of the bottle…subliminal advertising folks! Have you ever looked at a coke zero bottle? It has a waist! It also has little indented lines that give it an even more sylph like appearance…the irony here is that we have just been told that diet products are actually causing people to put on weight. If the bottle I was holding in my hand was any indicator of the truth the anonymous consumer who hurled their bottle out the window and gave me pause for thought had just mixed more than metaphors and had obviously arrived at allowing themselves to eat a snickers bar because they had accompanied it with a diet soft drink. Aside from the chemical cocktail that coke zero contains this person had consumed more than they obviously would have if they had chosen a regular coke OR a snickers and this is where it gets a bit hazy…people who choose “diet” and “lite” and “fat free” equivalents appear to be eating and drinking more because of this implied negation of calories.

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Note the “waist” it would give Barbie a run for her money…

Who doesn’t remember Alanis Morissette and her wonderful anthem to “bollocks”…” Ironic”. I swear people have written entire doctoral thesis on this album and the song could more accurately be titled “Sardonic” but it certainly made us sit up and take notice of a woman scorned (and think twice about flaunting your newfound happiness Uncle Joey!). If you have been living under a rock or in a dark cave for the last 40 years here is a Youtube link to Alanis singing her pain ridden angst out of a bad relationship…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jne9t8sHpUc

I have to say that Alanis certainly had a lot of character back then ;).

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Someone is getting impatient with me taking photos of “his” coke bottle!

So many ironies…so little time! One of my own personal ironies is that I am possessed of an adventurous soul that would love to drop everything and race off to Morocco to wander the Moroccan tundra’s (or whatever approximates tundra’s in Morocco) and find my inner narf. I indulge my soul by finding things out…by learning everything that I can and I have completely taken to heart the theory that learning keeps you mentally young. The irony is that my soul might be experimental however it gets regularly squashed by my head that is purely practical and my inner mouse that tends to run scurrying for the nearest hole whenever an adventure is at hand. I love my creature comforts…my bed…my own little box and my happy little mindless routines that help me to feel safe and hurling myself into the unknown holds nothing but terror for at least 2/3rd of my being. The other 1/3rd is going to just have to learn to be happy with this life that I lead because Morocco is nowhere on the horizon.

Coke started out with a special ingredient…cocaine (hence the name). Steve was watching a television program on Drugs and how policing drug sales and use is a futile experiment. It listed all kinds of designer drugs that are actually completely legal and able to be sold and drug dealers are one step ahead of legislation and the police with all kinds of little tweaks to their chemical cocktails that will allow them to be sold Willy-nilly to their enthusiastic audiences of people willing to experiment with their lives. One of them was sold as a plant food and another one was registered as an alloy wheel cleaner…I ask you…people who are willing to ingest something that is designed to clean alloy wheels must be made of different stuff to the rest of us! Who would take a risk like that when it came to their lives?! It would seem that most of Scotland and a goodly percentage of our youth and people living on the poverty line in slums the world over would… that’s who. Why could they care less about their lives? Because their lives are filled with fear, uncertainty, physical, mental and spiritual poverty and they stone cold suck THAT is why. A little bit of chemical happiness is just the ticket because the world is stark and horrible and full of failure and the inability to find a way to succeed…that’s why we have drug problems. The irony in it all is that the jails are full of the poor. There aren’t a lot of wealthy cocaine users languishing in prison cells…the prisons are chock full of people who got caught smoking crack cocaine, making their own chemical cocktails of happiness and it would seem that happiness is more addictive than crack because these people keep taking incredible risks to get that “high” no matter what the cost. The complete irony is that this war is NEVER going to be won until the real reason why people keep turning to drugs is dealt with… when your life sucks…you will find an out…drugs are an out on steroids. Give people back hope… give them back a chance at a life…give them back a home, and a sense of dignity and family, a neighbourhood worth living in…good healthy food and a chance to work and experience how beneficial it can be to have a purpose and the rate of drug usage will fall. I guarantee it :o)

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10c is nothing to sniff at when you are a child who has spent their pocket money and the highway is littered with bottles. Supervised groups of children could make a fair bit of money in Tasmania!

Another little irony of the coke bottle is that only 1 of our Australian states and territories has woken up to a fantastic way to keep their roads and highways clear of recyclables. South Australia (home of the Earl) kept bottle deposits and returns long after all of the other states and territories ceased offering money on the return of glass and plastic bottles. I dare say it would be hard to find a discarded glass or plastic bottle in South Australia because 10c is 10c folks and 10 of them is a dollar… collect a carton of them and you are halfway to buying yourself another bottle of soft drink. If you can offer someone a reward at the end of their mindless consumption that results in their hip pocket being a little bit fatter along with an pat on the back and an environmental “tick” for their efforts you are most of the way to eliminating wanton rubbish disposal. I remember when you could return a bottle to the place that you purchased it and you got money. I also remembered that the scouts used to wander the highways with the scout leaders and bottles were a good source of fundraising without having to constantly hassle poor long suffering mum’s for “more cakes please mum”. Fitness and free money…what more could a child want? Maybe the real reason why Australians are getting more obese has nothing to do with junk food and everything to do with how we no longer wander the streets searching for deposit return bottles! It’s a theory…it hasn’t been disproved… There was some talk about using this scheme once more in Tasmania to try to quell the rubbish thrown out of people’s car windows. They mentioned that the 10c return would have to be reflected in a 10c increase in price but who would notice 10c on a bottle of soft drink that already costs $3.00 in most convenience stores? Bring it on I say!

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Waiting for permission to get stuck into his coke zero bottle…I sometimes think that Earl gets more pleasure out of the outside of a softdrink bottle than most people get out of the contents 😉

The final irony of the coke bottle is that I will head down into the gutter to pick them up in the first place. People drive past me carrying my collection of soft drink bottles and smile…I can actually feel them thinking “good on her! At least someone is trying to tidy up Australia”… the irony is that I am only collecting these soft drink bottles to feed to my dog to stop him from eating the furniture. I get to bask in the reflected glory of my wonderful deeds when in reality I am just satisfying my own need to still have furniture to sit on at the end of the day. Whatchagonnado eh dear constant readers? Have a great rest of your weekend and normal blog post services will be resumed on Wednesday where we will talk less about irony and a whole lot more about Serendipity Farm :o)

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All I have to do is fish out the snickers wrapper and the rest of the bottle is recyclable…Earl obviously doesn’t like coke zero… I think that Earl needs all of the calories that he can get! 😉

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Finally we have someone who could snip one of those coke bottles in half in a second with that big beak. A baby yellow tailed black cockatoo who has just been coaxed out of his nest by his parents with the promise of hakea nuts. Steve took this shot just outside our back door today.

Earl is my Muse….

Hi All,

Our 4 years of horticulture have just flown past. In 4 years we have managed to pack in Certificates 2 and 3 in horticulture and a Diploma of horticulture with a soon to be Diploma of Landscape Design following suit. It’s amazing how much information can be crammed into your head before it bursts. I still haven’t reached bursting point but I sometimes thing I am getting close. You NEVER stop learning when it comes to gardening and nature. All of these (usually self-proclaimed) garden equivalents to Gordon Ramsey who easily impressed gardeners aspire to be are merely skating on the surface and tend to be more marketing tools than true information highways. I tend to head over to the alternative side whenever I want to find out truly useful information but am as prone to envy as anyone when it comes to a really spanky garden. Steve and I are not natural gardeners. I shared Nat’s little piece of heaven with you all on Saturday and our garden will NEVER be like hers. We are too lazy and our sentiments and aspirations lie elsewhere (predominately in the gastronomical arena of edible plants). Whenever I drop in to Nat’s house I can spot something desirable in one of its stages of envy inducement glory. I gave up long ago with my aspirations to a gorgeous cottage garden cram packed with glorious perennials BUT I can use some of the principals of cottage gardens to help us get what we want on Serendipity Farm. Cottage gardens are mass planted. Cottage gardens have tiers and levels and borders…cottage gardens mass all different kinds of flowers together and in so doing they promote natural pest control and the massing minimises the weeds. There are many incredibly self-sufficient perennials that truly deserve a place here… I just have to sift them out of the hard work basket and work out where I can put them (most likely the side garden) so that they are close to the house so I won’t forget about them. The Catalpa bignonioides (try saying that with a cold 😉 ) or Indian Bean Tree that we bought 2 years ago from our fellow horticultural lefty mate Andrew at Red Dragon Nursery that has been only barely hanging on to life in its too small pot and its regular water stressed environment got planted out a few months back and is leafing up now. We planted it on the fenceline between our place and Glads as one day it’s going to be a gorgeous tree and it can get full sun where it is. Just a quick aside, I just checked how to spell “bignonioides” and found out that the leaves secrete extrafloral nectar as well as regular nectar in the flower in an effort to attract pollinators. What a clever plant! We have decided that we are going to plant a row of Brachychitons down the fenceline from the top of the property down to our woodshed. I can only imagine some future visitor to Serendipity Farm marvelling at the eclectic mass/tangle of plants and wondering at the minds that decided to use the eclectic selections of plants that we are choosing and what was in our minds to do so.

We took the boys to Paper Beach on a lovely cool still day and Steve took some lovely photo’s with his phone

I love the round stones on the riverbank and covet them beyond belief. It’s just lucky that I am aware of how unsustainable it is to pinch river stones or I might bring a rucksack with me every time that we visit this lovely beach

So we are plant rebels! Who cares! Someone has to be :o). Most Brachychiton species have edible seed. They thrive in dry conditions and you won’t get much drier than our back block. They were grown in Tasmania and some of the seed was collected in Tasmania so it is from established stock that has acclimatised itself to our conditions, in other words, it has provenance. Something with provenance has been grown in local conditions and is more than happy to survive and flourish. They are the perfect plants to grow in your garden or on your property because they have a proven track record. I like to check out peoples gardens in the local area. I am naturally nosy but that isn’t why I wrangle Earl in from his rabbit hunts and his sniff fests to crane over someone’s fence to attempt to see what they have thriving in their garden. I do it because if it’s happy on my neighbours property there is a good chance that it may be happy on ours.

River grass contrasting with the pure still river in the background and the 2 black swans made this a nice photo

I really liked this persons fence. The gates appear to be hand made

This photo is to give you some idea of how massive this oak tree was. The house is underneath it and is totally swamped by this enormous specimen. We couldn’t even fit it all in the shot as we would have had to back up into the river to get it all

I want to trade this wonderful man for our stupid prime minister. He is living a sustainable life by choice not postulating about it and doing deals with China behind her back to sell us and keep our economy afloat on the books. Check out this inspirational article about the President of Uraguay. This is one politician that I would actually invite into my home to share a meal. Bravo Jose Mujica you might be “The world’s poorest President” but you are one of the richest in human spirit :o).

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-20243493

It’s a pity Jose isn’t the president of the United States of America isn’t it? Imagine how easy it would be to change over to sustainable ways of doing things with someone who lives it every day as his creed in the top seat? Oh well…we live in hope :0).

I am SO envious of this little segment of wasteland between a house and a shed that we spotted in Exeter today. Obviously the home owner used this area to throw their green waste that obviously consisted of a proportion of potato. Isn’t it both amazing and ironic how well vegetable grow when you could care less about them? 😉

If a boat wants to head down the river into Launceston we get to see it heading past Serendipity Farm. This little tug boat is off to be serviced in Launceston. We also get to see the Astralobe, the boat that goes to Antarctica, when it comes in to be serviced. Life on the river is never boring 🙂

I just got another example of how life can give you a belly laugh when you least expect it. “Aubergine”…for 1, we don’t use that word here in Australia. We call them eggplants…but I was trying to find a really delicious looking recipe that I saw on an episode of “Andy Bates Street Feasts” last night. The recipe was for a vegan burger that started by cooking all sorts of curried things in a large pot and then adding coconut cream and THEN adding polenta to soak up all of the liquid and the resulting burgers were shaped and fried and looked scrumptious. They then kicked it up a notch by using Khobz flatbreads instead of burger buns, adding all sorts of delicious chutneys and salads and folding them up into a nice neat envelope shape that was open at the top and eating them. My kind of grub! Anyway…I was hunting for the recipe and after finding it, I copied and pasted it into a word doc and as usual Word took offence to some of the spelling. It usually takes offence to Americanisations where the words have been changed but this time it wanted me to change “aubergine”. Fair enough…I don’t use the word aubergine so lets just change it to eggplant and be done with it. I clicked on Words suggestion and it wanted me to change aubergine to aborigine! That might not have been such a terrible swap apart from the context of the recipe that wanted me to take said aubergine/aborigine and peel and dice it! I had to laugh…I guess you had to be there 😉

It may not be the most beautiful of gates but I love my new rustic garden gate :). It has given me the ability to head out to the vegetable garden whenever I like and it has given Earl the newfound joy of being able to lay in wait and terrorise passing chooks

This photo is looking back towards the new gate. The star pickets and white bird netting contain the first of the little figs that we planted out. He will soon be joined by his 3 siblings because he has responded so well to his new home.

It’s suddenly time to post my hump day post and we have been flat out fixing up things in our designs. It would seem that we raised the bar in our designs and our dear esteemed lecturer Nick has raised his expectations right along with them…sigh…oh well…I guess we were back to the drawing board on a few things! We have just finished off the work and hopefully Nick will be happy with what we have changed and added and our next meeting might be our penultimate meeting. I plan on making a celebratory cake…maybe a nice orange and almond flourless cake with an orange glaze? Who knows…maybe a coffee and chocolate spongecake…whatever we make it usually goes down well for morning tea. I have really enjoyed studying the way that Steve and I have been studying over the last few years. Studying online gives you the freedom to work at your own pace and so long as you are disciplined, it’s the best way to study. There have been times that we kept going long into the night to finish something off and there have been times that we haven’t laid eyes on a book for months. Flexible delivery is the best of all worlds. It doesn’t use precious physical resources in a classroom situation and it allows people to work at their own pace and effectively receive 1 on 1 tutelage. Steve and I attend our meetings together and poor Nick has to juggle us both but I think that it really works well because we have different strengths and weaknesses and we are able to work well together once we know what is expected of us. Nick has always expected our very best and we have always strived to give it to him…plus 10% 😉

Earl in his element. As you can see, this is the part of the loungeroom that we have given up on and have allowed Earl to systematically disassemble whatever he finds in his mouth at any given time. He is munching on one of Steve’s t-shirts that he stole this morning…sometimes Earl’s games start a little bit too early for us and racing about the house after Earl with an “I am the Stig” t-shirt in his mouth is too hard for us at 7.30am

A man and his buddha

Earl has been helping me to write this post. He wants it known that he is my muse. This morning he was trying to sing something to me and I am obviously pretty stupid because I didn’t get it. I can see him staring at me sometimes as if I am brain dead. I know that I am not very good at my doganese but I have come to it fairly late in life and can’t be expected to learn new tricks all that fast. Earl spends most of his days trying to get one or the other of us to let him out of the gate…preferably unleashed but if he MUST he will wear a collar. Due to his penchance for attempting to ethnically cleanse Serendipity Farm of all domesticated and wildlife, his days unleashed have been few and far between and usually as a result of some bloody idiot forgetting to shut one of the gates before releasing the hounds after their walk. Earl is part alien part feral and part ADHD dog. He spends his life actively pursuing life on the other side of the fence and apparently I am the weakest link in the chain and as such his telekinetic powers of persuasion should be able to get me to do his bidding. As a muse Earl sucks. The “music” that comes from within is manic. The creative thoughts are terrifying and the literature pure horror. When Earl gets bored he eats things. His latest trick is to sneak into the spare/middle room when I am stupid enough to go in without shutting the door behind me (which is all the time…) and pinching walnuts out of a large container of them that I didn’t get around to stratifying this year. Once he gets the walnut it’s game on until one of us gets bored and then its a quick “crunch” and the walnut falls neatly in half suddenly becoming a very boring game and something to be shunned. I get to pick up the slobbery bits and deposit the walnut into the compost bin. Good try Earl…today isn’t your lucky day…I am wearing my tinfoil hat! Alien BEGONE!

A newly thin Fatty after recently giving birth…sigh…we now really REALLY have to deal with the exponentially exploding cat population on Serendipity Farm

This is Steve’s favourite little female feral that he has called “little pig”…don’t ask me why but she is very tame and may just end up being caught, sterilised at the vets and become part of life here on Serendipity Farm 🙂

I don’t usually type my post straight into the wordpress arena. I might actually save it before I hit “publish” because wordpress has a habit of losing entire sentences of prose and rendering the author hair free and rabid. I have cooked Steve some interesting curried pasties with home made curry paste, mashed potato, onion and cheese to be wrapped in puff pastry later on. I have been on a roll this week with making tasty meals and hopefully this one will fit the bill tonight. We finished off our studies at 4pm and after racing about to feed the seal eyed dogs (who want their evening meal at 3pm promptly and BOLLOCKS to daylight savings…) and sorting out what has to be done at the end of the day I find myself running short of time. Its that springtime thing again combined with it being the end of the year very soon. I am slowly getting used to waking up at 5am aside from my brains attempt to sabotage me into sleeping in by having me in deep dream sleep mode right when the alarm goes off. I have learned that precisely as the alarm goes off the automatic radio track has the “good” song on. If I lay in bed too long I end up with the “bad” song…good song = creedence…bad song = katie Perry…The first song that I hear in the morning usually stays with me all day and I have learned to quickly get up in the throws of the good song and turn off the radio before the bad song starts playing and sticks in my head to torture me for the rest of the day. I guess the universe is telling me that old adage “early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise”…it might make a “man” all of those things but it makes me “sleepy, dopey and grumpy” and as all of you know, that’s just on half of the 7 dwarves! Talk about a weird way to start the day! Ok, you get off lightly in the posting stakes again. If Nick gives us the OK it will be back to having the time to actually contemplate our navels whilst choosing what to do with our days rather than study…Study… STUDY as our sole option. See you Saturday when we may have started our big chook run thanks to Steve picking up some ex fish farm netting with a promise of more to come. Once those ninja chooks are behind bars where they belong we can mulch the poor long scratched and suffering garden and cover it up to minimise water loss. Once that happens we can install some irrigation to keep everything (mostly us) happy and we can then start to do a few more pressing things around Serendipity Farm. Have a great rest of the week and remember…it’s just on a month till Christmas (just thought you might like to know 😉

“What’s the name of that garbage monster?”…

Hi All,

“Is it Elmo?”…”Oh THAT’S right…it was Oscar”. That’s what my dear Sesame Street deprived husband said to me on our walk with the dogs this morning. We were just about to pass a notorious dog house where said “Garbage monster” lived and dragged our two past an enormous hairy adolescent of a German shepherd with his voice breaking with excitement to see our boys. I hate to break it to you babe…Earl is the garbage monster! We then carried on our walk only to see a group of extremely tall and thin kids with their dog off the leash…sigh…we turned around and headed back the other way till we were just about to meet up with another Saturday dog walker and did another about face in the other direction and returned back to where we had started. On the way back to the car we met Buster…I can only begin to imagine the thought processes going through Steve’s strange mind that are going to give him his memory cue for that one! At least it gives me entertaining blog post titles to lure the unsuspecting in! 😉

As I just used Steve to shamelessly promote todays post so I had best give you an action shot of him making a mountain of wood futures

When I get out of bed in the morning my warm spot is immediately predated by a heat seeking missile

Earl contemplating a career as a prize fighter

On Wednesday I mentioned that we had berries on a Mahonia shrub in the jungle part of the garden and Spencer from Anthropogen, my go-to place for learning EVERYTHING about practical useful horticulture (in opposition to horticulture that is a bit of a waste of time and that results in things that you can’t use or eat) mentioned in his comment that you can make jam out of them. Always the sceptic I decided to head off and take a look…Mahonia aquifolium’s common name is Oregon grape and as the blackbirds are eagerly hovering around these bright blue berries I figured that I might harvest them and see if I can’t make a small pot of jam out of them. Here is a good website with a great recipe for jam/jelly and some hints about combining the fruit with milder carrier fruit to mellow its flavour…

http://s158336089.onlinehome.us/OregonGrapeJam/OregonGrapeJam.html

We have some Myrtus communis (common myrtle) shrubs on the property as well and aside from making jam from the fruit, it is apparently good for making a type of booze and anything booze is alright by me! Thinking about it…maybe Mahonia could be turned into an interestingly coloured wine? Anyone for blue wine? Talking about blue things, we have seen an influx of the dreaded huge blue ants which form the stuff that Steve’s nightmares are made of. He was once bitten on the foot whilst whipper snipping by one of these nasty critters and aside from being amazingly painful the bite took ages to go away. The ants are not actually ants but are wingless female flower wasps. Here is a website with a picture of one of these beautiful but painful insects to check out for yourself…

http://www.whatsthatbug.com/2010/11/21/blue-ant-from-tasmania-is-flightless-female-flower-wasp/

That’s my “something new I learned today”.  I dehydrated some bananas that I bought for 99c a kilogram the other day. The local grocer that we buy our fruit from doesn’t wait till the bananas go black before he puts them out cheap so they are great to eat immediately or to freeze or dehydrate for later use. I was thinking about how to use dehydrated bananas other than eating them and decided that I am going to partially dehydrate some bananas to the approximate texture of dried dates and then I will puree them and add them to some home-made nut butter. I am also thinking about adding some cocoa to the mix to see how that pans out. Today’s bunch got frozen after I skinned them. I then snipped the skin into fine chunks for our ravenous compost pile to consume. I say that the compost pile is ravenous, but really it’s the small handful of leaves and red wriggler worms that the owner of “Inspirations” nursery in Exeter gave to me. He must have given me about 20 worms and I laid them reverently in the compost bin, covering them with some dried oak leaves and a kitchen scrap bucket load of various choice scraps. I came out later to see the entire compost bin seething with chooks all pecking away like crazy and immediately lamented my 20 red wrigglers, writing their eulogy as I yelled at the chooks and did windmill things with my arms in a vain effort to dissuade them from eating every last one. I figured that the compost heap was now worm free aside from the odd huge native worm that bumbled its way into Nirvana. I was wrong! At least 1 worm must have survived and went exponential on our compost heap in a big way because all you have to do is life a little of the top layer of compost and you get to see a seething mass of worms in various stages of development from teeny little thin whipper-snappers to strapping red gyrating teens. The nursery owner did warn me that they breed exponentially and now I get to reap their composting rewards and they get my buckets of scraps to fight over with the chooks.

The ubiquitous worm laden compost heap complete with an entire dead lavender shrub disguising the baby pumpkins that are growing behind it until they get so big that the chooks can’t possibly hope to quell them

Wednesday’s Mahonia berries are Saturday’s empty stems

Unripe Mahonia berries that will be harvested BEFORE the birds predate them as soon as they are ripe

The extent of my haul of Mahonia berries 😦

I put the two plastic bags that the bananas had been languishing in into my plarn bag and noticed that it was now full of all kinds of plastic bags and ticked the “to do on Saturday” box in my head initiating a plarn manufacturing day in advance. Little did I know that the garbage monster had plans of his own and his plans were for earlier on in the week! Needless to say…never leave your dog’s alone with an unattended bag of plastic bags that you intend on recycling creatively because you may have to change your “plarns” (sorry, I couldn’t resist that ;)). Earl recycled most of my plarn bags into unusable shards and the rest of them are still waiting to be processed by Earl’s internal plastic recycling depot and I am NOT going to make plarn out of them! I read on a website that living sustainably starts a chain of events in your life that can completely change the way that you live and how you see things. I completely agree. All sorts of cycles start coming out of the woodwork and I am constantly amazed at how many ways to recycle, reuse and repurpose things there are. As a natural born skiller (again…sorry…I am full of them today! ;)), I have a driven urge that is apparently the fruit of generations of thriftiness that runs in my blood like ginger beer. Talking about ginger beer…I must get a plant on the go! I keep seeing opportunities to make and do things and I am finding it increasingly hard to just make it to the end of the day having followed my goals because I am always deviating out sideways after finding something new. I thinned out my rss feed reader and rather than making my life easier, it’s actually made it harder! I have so many great blogs that I am actually reading every single post and am commenting on them all because they are all amazing resource rich sources of information and I am always incredibly grateful to those bloggers who yield quality stuff. I am getting up at 5am and have 2 hours to wander lonely as a cloud to find that sea of daffodils BUT those daffodils side-track me like crazy. It’s not MY fault that those amazing vegan food blogs are just about all participating in Vegan Mofo and keep linking to other great vegan food blogs that I just HAVE to stuff into my rss feed reader (like the hoarding pack rat that I am…sigh…) and that the rest of the quirky crafty homesteading mix that I have padding out the vegan stuff is equally as prolific and productive with their amazingly useful posts. I am going to have to spend this entire weekend working slowly through the 840 (yes 840!) posts that are mounting up exponentially in my rss feed reader and I want to read every single one! I keep a word doc open and ready to filch the mouth-watering recipes and how to’s and precious gardening information and by the end of my 2 hours word is ready to go back to bed for the day. I hit 7am (Steve’s time to wake up) running and have started a new tradition of thinking of some amazing music for him to wake up to and heading on over to Youtube, finding the entire album and turning it on as I bring him his morning cup of eye opening java. I am usually a very happy camper to be full of hours of acquired knowledge and information and carefully cribbed amazing recipes and bounce into the bedroom with coffee, wonderful music and a bleary eyed husband and his 2 furry bed mates. I think I am becoming one of those dreaded morning people!

Bananas ready for the freezer

My compost bucket with snipped banana skins to allow them to decompose more quickly

More banana peels to snip and 2 plarn futures bags…well they WOULD have been plarn futures if Earl hadn’t decided to intercede… I love being able to find ways to reuse everything that comes from our purchases and am looking forwards to heading even further afield to find more interesting ways to reuse, repurpose and recycle as much as we can on Serendipity Farm

When I was dejectedly stumbled around the garden after finding the Mahonia stripped bare of all of the succulent blue fruit that I had just decided to harvest I noted the seed pods on an incredibly overgrown and tumble-down Cassia bicapsularis/Senna. The tree is apparently incredibly hardy and this one has seen MUCH better days. I decided to collect some of the seeds and grow some more for Serendipity Farm. Aside from flowering in the winter and being a lovely looking tree, Cassia’s are leguminous and fix nitrogen in the soil and this particular variety are somewhat fast growing so they can act as foundation trees to support other slower growing trees and because they grow faster they can be cut and used as mulch. We also discovered a Kowhai/Sophora tetraptera, another leguminous small tree by complete accident when Steve noticed it flowering. It has very distinctive shaped and coloured flowers. I wonder why many leguminous trees and shrubs have yellow flowers? Genista monspessulana/Canary broom and Cytisus scoparius/English broom that has developed a curious red centre on many of the self-seeded weeds in the area also have yellow flowers as does Ulex europaeus/Gorse. Thank goodness we don’t have gorse on Serendipity Farm! That’s one weed that we really don’t need! This garden is constantly revealing little parts of itself as it evolves. I got to peek into the jungle part of the garden by braving some menacing blackberries and by turning sideways and peering through the hugely overgrown Phoenix canariensis/Canary palm that prevents entry to this part of the garden. I noticed a most interesting looking vibernum and on doing a bit of research, I discovered that there are many viburnum’s that have edible berries and some have leaves that can be used to make teas. I think that the vibernum that I discovered was Vibernum rhytidophyllum from a bit more research.

The distinctive flower of the Kowhai a leguminous tree that we recently found in our garden thanks to this flower

After a while it gets easier to work out what is leguminous and what isn’t. The leaves on the Kowhai are a dead giveaway where the flower isn’t really all that pea shaped

The plant (taken with a zoom lens) that I suspect is Vibernum rhytidophyllum amongst the jungle down in the lower garden area

It looks like Tasmania has decided to shuffle in some last bastions of winter for a couple of days. I don’t mind because I like when the garden gets watered for free and Brunhilda gets to make an appearance for a while and I don’t have to turn on the gas hot water system for a few more days. Steve has been busy fixing the front gate that has been warped by a large tree growing against one of the gate poles. He also fixed the water pipe that we burst the other day when we were planting our maples. I am so very lucky to have a husband who is “handy”. He might want to run at his days like a bull at a gate but he certainly knows how to redeem himself :o). I need to mention here that I finished “Gone Girl”. I loved the book and the interesting premise of the book but the ending was a bit weird to say the least. I had to suspend my sense of disbelief a bit but aside from the strange ending Gillian Flynn has written 3 books that I thoroughly enjoyed and will be reading anything else that she chooses to publish. I still haven’t read Like Water for Chocolate but I dare say I will find 5 minutes to shove my nose into it someday soon. My main problem now is that getting up at 5am renders me zombified by 8pm and completely unable to read anything more than a few sentence’s before I find myself waking up with my chin on my chest. At least I now earn the drool on my shirt with spring giving us so many opportunities to work hard on Serendipity Farm

I just wanted to share a few photos with you of the jungle area of the garden…

The pink coloured tree in the background is a Circis siliquastrum/Judas tree that is struggling to be seen amongst this seething mass of impenetratable vegetation

My sideways, upside down on one leg squinting shot of the garden taken just before I was heartily yanked by a wayfaring blackberry and forced to retreat from the jungle garden post haste

The mushrooms have started to slow down now and I think that my days of free mushrooms are limited by whether or not we pick up some more mushroom compost when we next head into town. The spent compost will be used to top dress garden beds as mulch. I was reading a blog this morning that talked about how restaurants are lamenting how difficult it is to minimise food waste because companies that haul away their food waste for composting charge too much. I wonder why all of the restaurants in a suburb (or even a few suburbs) don’t get together and try to do something about the problem. If companies can make money out of hauling away someone else’s food waste, surely the restaurants could as well? Wouldn’t it be cheaper to start their own communal compost heap somewhere and pay someone themselves to haul away the waste, compost it and sell it on? Thinking about it a little more, perhaps they could supply community gardens and a percentage of the produce could be returned to the restaurateurs to be recycled into their profit margin? I wish I had more food waste to compost as one day my red wrigglers are going to start lining up at the back door demanding I open the fridge for them. I think I might start a real worm farm soon. The compost heap is almost ready to be plundered for its black gold and I am going to have to evict the worms en mass. Beaconsfield tip shop often have ceramic baths for $20 and I think it might be time to head on over for a tip run in the near future to see if we can’t get ourselves a nice pink (strangely most baths thrown out are pink!) prospective worm farm. Another cycle forming on Serendipity Farm to integrate with all of the other cycles. Steve watered the glasshouse with some Powerfeed and worm tea the other day and pretty soon we won’t have to buy our worm tea, we will be able to make it ourselves.  It’s this myriad of cycles that has me excited for the future and once we manage to tame these cycles we should be able to ride the waves of change on Serendipity Farm. Nothing like a bit of proactivity to give you back a sense of equilibrium :o)

One of the lily of the valley’s that have been sprouting up all over the place lately along with the Soloman’s seals

Steve’s weird choice of foodstuffs that comprised 2 spinach and herb wraps consisting of French onion dip spread, roast pork, fresh sliced tomato, baby cos lettuce, sliced tasty cheese, omelette chinese style and some dijonaise all wrapped up and consumed with happy expat gusto. Glad I can make you happy babe but please…NEVER expect me to eat them with you! 😉

“Yeh…I did it…what are you going to do about it eh?”…a lesson in how dogs amuse themselves if you don’t leave them enough plastic milk bottles to work on till you get back…”Goodbye plarn futures till I build you up again!”

It’s just about time to post this post and I am still sitting here tapping away. I have had my tea; I have watched Gok’s wonderful cooking show. Anyone apart from me think that Gok is the Asian equivalent of Nigel Slater? I am ready to trawl the net tonight to find all sorts of quality information and so I bid you adieu for now and wish you all a wonderful weekend and remind you not to forget to listen to some good music when you can, it adds a magnificent piquancy to life and can take you to those mental and emotional places that nothing else can. See you on Wednesday :o)

Cat Stevens is a never-ending cup of the purest unadulterated pleasure and this is what I played first thing this morning to wake Steve up and to fill my heart with simple clean pure joy

The very best of Cat Stevens the full album…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxD6faPrY1M

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