A Sustainable Elegant sufficiency…We wish you enough

Hi All,

My last post saw us barely surviving a major financial crisis. We started out annoyed at Centrelinks bungling and ended up thrust into something completely out of our control or sphere of influence. We were reminded of how very little control we actually have over our lives and the entire event gave us back a true appreciation for living simply with less and making do with what you have. Last year we wanted to share a truly sustainable, low cost and anti-consumerist Christmas together but we got a bit hijacked by mum and her desire to feed the world. After mum died 9 days after she returned home from Serendipity Farm we realised that sometimes, someone else’s desires are more important than your own and mum having had a fantastic time hijacking our Christmas resulted in point taken and most graciously learned. This year we decided to make sure that our Christmas would be a balance between something special and a truly sustainable celebration. We wanted to bypass the hype that accompanies the Christmas season…we wanted to arrive at the end of the day satiated and content rather than bewildered, confused and in debt for 6 months with very little to show for it. We started off by making sure that we only bought what we actually wanted to eat on the day. We wanted to keep it small and try to prevent the problem of leftovers that don’t get eaten or that force us to eat more than we should in an effort to prevent wastage. We asked each other what we felt were “special foods” that would make us feel like we had feasted in style and headed out to shop for as much of it as we could before the day came, spreading out the cost and minimising the financial stress. We tried to shop for Australian grown/made and produced foods and preferably in nice jars so that they could be reused when preserving our coming harvest. We grew our salad vegetables and it was wonderful to water the garden and then harvest our own spinach, red and green lettuce and rocket for our salad and in the process we saved ourselves a 100km round trip having to head into Launceston to pick up our fresh veggies at the last minute on Christmas Eve. At the end of our simple but elegant meal we were satisfied beyond the physical and the tiny amount of waste, the lemon skin from our homemade alcoholic fruit punch and the avocado shells along with the Christmas pudding box and the cheezel box, were all recyclable and ended up being cut up fine and put into the compost bucket to turn Serendipity Farms ancient soils into something more fecund and worm friendly to create next years “soil” for our next Christmas vegetable haul…cycles of manageability and perpetuity…taking us from season to season and building on the foundations of sustainability that we are stacking on top of the stones that form Serendipity Farm. Our Christmas was just enough and left us replete and entirely satiated, physically, mentally and spiritually. The sustainable Christmas that we wanted we got and we are not paying for it in any way at all today. Come February, there won’t be any nasty surprised for us and Christmas has taken on new substance and meaning and has evolved to fit our personal ethos. This year…we learned :o)

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Here is the end result of the marathon Stollen making event…2 of the 6 Stollen ready to be transported to our neighbours alimentary canals

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Steve’s pork pies with his patented jelly injecting aparatus

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A true Brit will ALWAYS find a way to satisfy cravings from home and these pork pies are Steve’s way of satisfying his Christmas cravings. He also made some scotch eggs, another “Steve” Christmas tradition

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Our Christmas Day salad quotient from our veggie garden on the left, and the chooks Christmas Day silverbeet quotient on the right. Aren’t the stems of this ruby chard/silverbeet beautiful?

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Our simple Christmas Day feast…a most elegant sufficiency for 2 happy hippies in the Southern Hemisphere 🙂

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Our compost bucket with all that remains of our Christmas feast 🙂

I took a little bunch of lavender to lay at the foot of mums Claret Ash. Whenever I see the tree I think of mum and how much she loved it here. I tucked a Cecile Brunner rose and a Bourbon rose into the tiny bouquet because wherever mum was shuffled off to in her higgledy piggledy life she centred the chaos by building a garden and there was always a Cecile Brunner and Bourbon rose planted first up. I find it incredibly ironic that both of these roses are growing on Serendipity Farm and are true survivors, much like mum was. We exchanged our yearly bottles of wine over the garden gate between our place and Glad’s next door and as Glad and her daughter Wendy were drooling over Steve making homemade pork pies for Christmas he offered to make them one each as well. As expats they all need to stick together and talk soon ran to “have you found a decent sausage here yet?” and all things traitorous and anti-Aussie until Glad started talking about her annual pudding making marathon and Steve said “I will buy one off you next year Glad” and she promptly headed off and gave him a magnificent homemade pudding redolent with spice and what appears, most suspiciously, to be rum! Steve took one of his homemade pork pies down with a loaf of Stollen and his pork pies rated 9 out of 10. Not bad for someone who lived on chips and beans in his bachelor years. The Stollen were an experiment and after following Tobi’s recipe carefully I set about making the homemade almond paste for the stollen first using frugally bought almonds in skins and as I poured boiling water over the 600g of them and started slowly peeling each individual almond I realised that our incessant need to remove the simple processes of life has also removed “thinking time”…it’s no wonder so many women race around like chooks with their heads cut off…we don’t have that centring time that comes with these humble processes and with the popularity of homesteading these wonderful processes are giving us back so much more than we lose in time. I really enjoyed my time skinning those almonds and remembering doing the same when “helping” mum make her fruitcakes each year. I am sure that we ate more almonds than we skun but as we popped the soaked almonds out of their skins we were learning the value of making things from scratch…the frugality of doing things yourself and the camaraderie of time spent learning at your mothers feet…precious time that you only appreciate when you have children of your own and your mother isn’t there to learn from any more

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Mums little bouquet of memories

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Some of our Christmas goodies to inject “Christmas Spirits” into our day (sorry about the bad pun but SOMEONE had to make it! 😉 )

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Home grown strawberries from our tip plants with some of the pretty icecubes that Steve made for our Christmas wine punch and some raspberries from our friend Roxy who kindly gave us some

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Wine punch in lovely glasses given to me last year by my clever stylish daughters…all of the fruit included in the punch came from a 10km radius, the fruit juice is Aussie juice, the wine is Aussie wine and the softdrink came from small Aussie producers…even the rum that Steve didn’t see me tip into my green glass was Aussie 😉

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Christmas Cheer!

We have been thinking of ways to raise money and Steve has come up with a vajazzle kit to raise funds…anyone wanting to take advantage of his half price “Mates rates” send a plain brown self-addressed and stamped envelope and he will see you right ;)…he is a product of Essex after all folks! ;). We saw the Black pearl pirate ship on doomsday folks! No…I didn’t drink too much rum yesterday (although to be honest, everything towards the end of our marathon “The Vicar of Dibley” watching event started to blur into itself for no known reason…). We really did see a black replica pirate ship with a black flag and black sails silently gliding down the river right using the tide to propel it sideways underneath the Batman Bridge. We haven’t been able to find out anything about this obviously special boat but know that it is/was anchored just off the Deviot Yacht Club just around the corner from Serendipity Farm and there was nothing in the local newspaper about it. We would like to think that they have come to pick Steve as the new Dread Pirate Roberts. He would be perfect. He has all the swashbuckling charm of a top pirate, twinkling pirate eyes, a nice beard that could quickly be rendered “swashbuckling” with a bit of a shear and 9 earrings…yes…he had a misspent youth folks! I figure I would be allowed to tag along but would suffer the ignominy of being used as the ships ballast/anchor or chief cook and bottle washer… Earl would make a perfect pirate dog…he has the same “Devil-may-care” attitude as Steve and doggish good looks…Bezial would be huddled in the galley howling on the floor until he was released, still howling, back onto the shore by disgusted pirates as the shameless landlubber that he is. We aren’t all born to be pirates, but those of us who are need the minimum of a small aluminium dinghy to keep them happy and Steve spent this morning out on the water tootling around in his own floatation device happily fishing and catching nothing. The fun is in the floating apparently but in my mind, the odd fish wouldn’t go astray…

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“The Black Pearl” (if this is indeed Captain Jack Sparrows ship…)…”Revenge” (if we are going with The Dread Pirate Roberts) or what the hey… how about “The Black Pig” and we could go with Captain Pugwash! All in all a decidely piratey ship floating down the Tamar River at 9pm on Doomsday…

DSCF7517Steve’s own personal “Pirate Ship”…”The good ship Stig”…may she sail long into the 4 winds on the Tamar River…

12120049Here you can see a dog who is well aware of how blissful freedom can be relining in state on the grassy slopes of an embankment somewhere on Serendipity Farm

12120054Here he is accompanied by a dog who most decidedly DOESN’T know the value of freedom and who flagrantly flouts the rules and blunders through the boundaries that Bezial completely understands…sigh…”One day Earl…One day…”

Our veggies are going ballistic and we should get tomatoes by the bucket load this year. We were clever and planted mostly cherry tomatoes that should have plenty of time to grow and ripen over the next few months in our short growing season. We are starting to think about making a massive great enclosed walk in veggie patch with more free ex-fish farm netting and upping our veggie production in the process. We are letting some of our rocket and lettuces go to seed to collect for next year and the coriander went straight from seedling to seed in a single step! Our rocket is rapidly following suit and rather than complain about the situation I am enjoying the possibilities of flowers to throw into my salads, seed to save and share and the value of perpetuity and cycling on Serendipity Farm. Now that the chooks are contained I am starting to notice how much damage they actually did to the garden and am silently apologising to the wallabies for damage that I attributed to them and that was in actuality, chook damage. Pingu was the worst culprit and spent hours on end jumping to defoliate tender tasty shrubs and the Physalis peruviana (Ground cherry) has suspiciously started growing leaves again below the “jump zone” of a small, most determined hand reared Plymouth Rock hen, hell bent on destruction and self-gratification. She also developed a taste for beech tree leaves and our poor special dwarf weeping beech is only just beginning to grow a few sparse leaves to keep itself alive and photosynthesising until it can grow some new ones next spring. Pingu has adapted well to being put in the chook run along with her sisters despite living in Steve’s shed with a “birds-eye” view of the river from her lofty perch on a large terracotta pot on a bench overlooking the river. The chooks don’t seem to be missing their freedom at all and seem most content. We have still got 3 feral youngsters that we couldn’t catch roaming free, 2 roosters and 1 small hen and a single hen (one of Effel Doocark’s prodigious penultimate batch) managed to elude our best efforts and hatch out 6 more babies down under the massive big oak tree at the very front of the property between Serendipity Farm and Glad’s property “Four Oaks”. We took her down some water and food and will attempt to catch the wayfaring brood and rehouse them in the chook run along with her sisters 11 remaining babies…the more the merrier eh? 😉

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It took an hour to turn this previously empty hall into this…hopefully the event went well, they didn’t need us for Christmas day and so we said our goodbyes and will do it again next year…a most worthy use for 1 hour of our time

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This Physalis peruviana had been so devastated by Pingu that it decided to take it’s chances growing through the deck rails

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You can see the green fruit like a tiny green lantern  that will soon turn buff and when the fruit is ripe it will fall to the ground, protected by it’s papery husk and waiting for us to pick it up, peel it and eat it

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A shot of our homemade driftwood Pirate Christmas Tree (Maybe THIS is what the pirates were looking for…it wasn’t Steve at all! And to think… he hid under the bed for 3 days quaking in fear! 😉 )…lit up like the proverbial and doing it’s job admirably

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Aren’t these icecubed that Steve made especially for me pretty? Who knew he had it in him! You old romantic you Steve 😉

Another year is galloping to a close and we are satiated and full of the gratefulness that a very close call can bring. 2013 is beckoning to us from behind its veiled position on the horizon and after sharing a simple and most satisfying Christmas day I would just like to leave you with this article to ponder the true meaning of Christmas and the endurance of the human spirit despite all odds…

http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/history/2011/12/peace-on-the-western-front-goodwill-in-no-mans-land-the-story-of-the-world-war-i-christmas-truce/

How to turn trash into treasure…

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A few years ago when we were still attending horticultural day classes at our local Polytechnic we noticed one of the classrooms being gutted and all sorts of things being thrown out into a large skip right outside where we sat and daydreamed while our poor lecturer tried to get something to stick in our heads in the midafternoon warmth of summer. On the way home we asked the workmen if we could take a look in the skip that contained all manner of amazing things including filing cabinets, desks, office chairs and these magnificent orbs of 70’s plastic, having obviously once served duty as oversized light shades somewhere. Our friend in the witness protection stored them at her place until we could bring them home and “home” they sat for 3 years…this year we decided to remedy this and we put them to use on Serendipity Farm…

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After taping up the orbs Steve spray painted them with cheap spray paint in his Pingu free shed…

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While one was drying, we sprayed another…

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Then we added stripes of other colours to our oversized Christmas baubles…

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Doesn’t the base look like a Union Jack?! This shot was to show you how clever we are…what forward thinking little penniless student hippies we are and how your taxpayer dollars are actually being put to good use in teaching us to plan and think… Tasmania + Summer + rain = enormous oversized baubles FULL of water and weighing a tonne…a carefully drilled hole in the base of our baubles and the prospective problem simply vanishes…

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Our oversized Christmas baubles hanging over the gate at the front of the property…Now we just have to work out how to get them down…

When the end of the world is a better option than real life…

Hi All,

Remember when the queen of England said that it had been an “annus horribilis”? Well we just had one of those condensed down into a single day. It started out fine…Steve was off to do the shopping and we were waiting for the end of the world. He said that he figured that I would be washed off the planet before him as he was 50km inland from me and I was on the coast so he was going to phone me every 30 minutes to see if I was still there and to make sure that I answered the phone because he was going to look a right idiot running around the supermarket screaming “THE END IS NIGH!” to the bemused and jaded Christmas shoppers who were still milling around doing their last minute shopping in their hoards if nothing happened… by the way…the end of the world WASN’T nigh…it was another case of us giving some wide eyed loony the publicity that wide eyed loonies should NEVER be given because they tend to run with it and excite hosts of loonies that come flocking out of the woodwork (like zombies) to join en masse and start hallucinating together and causing murmurings in the fringes of the general community. If enough of them get together the mutterings can be registered all over the world and like any good rumour mill…enough muttering starts to give weight to the story, no matter how crazy it seems. We let the loonies take the stage and we actually gave them a microphone…while they were all fighting for the microphone and talking about their latest greatest doomsday prophesies the real world was carrying on regardless and our day started off innocently enough with me having to call our local income support centre “Centrelink” to try and sort out why they hadn’t paid us our student payment AGAIN…sigh…they are a groaning behemoth of a government department that is massively understaffed (how ironic that the workers keep finding themselves on the other side of the desk as the government keeps nibbling away at their population…) and as all good bureaucracies go, they do have to deal with an enormous workload and in the process of trying to keep us all honest, they make a lot of “interesting” decisions.

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A peek over the netting of the new chook pen with some incredibly contented chooks. Big Yin is VERY happy because he can see all of his remaining girls in one hit and everyone seems happy with their new situation…the pen extends to the left and right of this view and to the left there are large clumps of agapanthus that the hens are nesting and laying in…all’s well on the Western Front!

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I thought you might like to see how the little hazelnuts and walnuts we grew are going…

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The closest we are going to get to “snow” on Serendipity Farm 😉

As students we rarely have to deal with them. We receive a payment from the government to re-educate ourselves and ironically our payment is a lot less than that of people who are job seeking. We are not complaining though…we are just very VERY grateful that we live in a country where you CAN get income support to pursue an education to give yourself a better chance to find a job in a market place where the strings are stretched tight enough to give a Stradivarius a run for its money. Every time we get to the end of the year we have to inform Centrelink of our intentions to continue our studies next year…whenever we move on in our studies we inevitably hit the coal face of Centrelink and end up with a few problems…it is expected and this year was no different. We had a few teething problems trying to use the departments website and after informing them of our intentions to study and our course of choice we had our payments cut because they were too busy to update our details even though they were completely aware of them…a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing but again…we just saw it as an inevitable case of bureaucratic fumbling and kept wading through the mire till we informed the right people and everything got sorted out…this happened a few more times and we found ourselves phoning them up last Wednesday to see why they had cut our payments and after talking to a customer service officer we were under the impression that everything was sorted out and that it wasn’t our fault…she apologised profusely in fact, and our payment would be put into the bank on Friday…doomsday… we should have known that it was on the cards to be an “interesting” day…

I got the recipe for this wonderful stollen from a fantastic food blog called “The Vicar Died Laughing…” Tobi is an amazing baker and bakes scrumptious looking breads, cakes and all sorts of other wonderful recipes. I have kept his blog hidden deep in my rss feed reader but I think that as you have all been VERY good…I might just share one of the best baking blogs on the internet with my dear constant readers…

http://thevicardiedlaughing.blogspot.com.au/2012/12/stollen.html

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Prior to making your Stollen, you need to make your almond paste. I chose to keep with the frugal theme and skin my own whole almonds and process all of my ingredients together in my vitamix

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And here it is ready to store in the fridge until I need it…

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This pavlova is NOTHING to do with Stollen but who needs continuity eh? It’s a very overrated thing 😉

Our payment wasn’t put into the bank on Friday and as Steve headed out the door to do his doomsday/Christmas shop I was left with the unenviable task of phoning up Centrelink when they opened the phone lines at 8am. It isn’t uncommon to sit on the phone for hours waiting to talk to a service operator and with the entire department closing for a week over Christmas I phoned up at 8am on the dot! I was reading my rss feed reader and commenting on blogs while I waited on the phone listening to the solitary classical song that they play over…and over…and over…and over again after speaking as clearly as I could to the voice recognition software that they employ to infuriate you and ignore what you are saying and put you through to the wrong department…I finally got through to someone after going through an epiphany before phoning. I had been annoyed that they hadn’t paid us…I had the outrageous indignation of the slighted righteous unpaid student and had girded my loins for battle with the first service operator that I got to speak to (there is a reason why Steve deals with all phone calls to government and service departments! 😉 )…when I stopped in my tracks and really thought about what I was doing…we are so LUCKY to be in the position that we are in! We might have had our payments cut due to bureaucratic bungling BUT we at least “got” a payment and had the security of this payment as a backup unlike most of the rest of the world where social support is only seen as a luxury and a waste of taxpayers’ money. I immediately stopped feeling outrageously indignant…I didn’t have any right to feel that way. I was suddenly infused with gratefulness and thankfulness and rather than getting angry and indignant at the customer service operator I was going to be a beaming ray of pure sunshiny happiness and forgive them their extended ineptitude and scare the living daylights out of them with my shiny shininess…

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Mixing the fruit into the Stollen dough

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Spot the integral ingredient in my Stollen…

I eventually got through after several false starts…”No thank you”…I didn’t want to set up a phone account…”No” I didn’t have a pin number and “No thank you” I didn’t want to set one of those up either…I just wanted to speak to someone…(which meant, apparently, that I had to wait longer as people with phone accounts and pin numbers get served first…) and eventually after a reasonably short period of time I got through…I shone my shininess at the customer service officer…I beamed at her using my smiley voice over the phone…I commiserated with her over how busy and stressful it must be to be working at the coalface where most of your “customers” were stressed out individuals who were a taught string ready to snap at any given moment and after shining like a beacon of light I asked her why we hadn’t been paid…she then proceeded to pull the rug completely out from under me and say “because you have too many assets and your payment has been cancelled”… that answer came straight from side left and hit me right out of the ballpark…”too many assets?”… “EH?!”… we have been straight down the line with Centrelink from the very beginning and had told them at the start everything that we inherited when my late father died and had been assured that we were under the limit for the assets test that we needed to meet to continue to be paid our payment…according to this doyen of darkness…this purveyor of rug pullers…not only were we not entitled to our payment…they didn’t know why we had been allowed the payment 2 years ago in the first place! Forget doomsday cults…when your world and your security comes crumbling down around your ears the roar of the crazies immediately fades into the background and the “End of the world” fades into the background along with them…I now had the roar of terrifying possibilities to replace them!

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The dough ready to proof for 1 hour

Like all good terrified, rug pulled penniless student hippies who see their lifeline being surgically cut in front of their eyes I stopped shining and started to ask incredibly pertinent questions in an effort to go into damage control…the service operator told me that we would have to go to our local office to see what this meant and hinted that we may even have to pay back the payments that we had been paid for the last 2 years…Steve and I worry for a living…we can make a meal of stress and suddenly I was plunged into a 10 course degustatory feast of stress! I put down the phone dazed and confused and wondering “WHY?!” because the service operator (who didn’t deserve my “shiny happy” demeanour at ALL) had completely side skipped telling me anything or answering any of my questions with a bog standard “I don’t know…you will have to go to your local office…” all I could hear was “no payments” resounding in my ears and I did what every good panic merchant does at a time like that…I panicked! I phoned up Steve who was busy doing battle with the nana’s fighting over the last Christmas puddings and shared the load. Steve can worry for the queen and we both went into overdrive. Steve stopped spending and headed immediately to the local office to find out what was going on and a very nice lady in the office told him to bring back our rates notice for the property and a bank statement and as they don’t book interviews any more we would have to sit and wait to see someone. Steve came home laden with Christmas shopping and radiating stress…after a quick hug we both decided that a weekend of stressing and waiting for Monday to arrive to deal with it WASN’T an option…we like to deal with things immediately and so we threw the long suffering dogs into the car…we phoned up our daughters in town and gave them two options…”look after the dogs for us for a few hours or move”…they chose the former 😉 (Thanks girls, it was a good choice 😉 ) And we dumped the dogs unceremoniously and headed off with loins so girded that we could almost taste our underpants at the back of our throats…

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Stollen shaped and ready to proof again for 1 hour. You are going to have to wait to see them finished as they are just baking in the oven now :). Thank you SO much for this amazing recipe Tobi and for allowing me to share your wonderful blog with my readers 🙂

Steve dropped me off at the traffic lights and I waited in line while he headed off to find a park in a consumer stuffed city full of Christmas shoppers…I talked to people behind me in line…one very interesting man called Andrew had also had his payments cut because the lady that was supposed to phone him had gotten sick and not informed anyone that she hadn’t phoned up her customers and all 800 of them had their payments cut…I had read about a man who had gone to the Centrelink Ombudsmen (Yes…I had done my homework folks! I had done EVERYTHING possible to understand our “enemy”…it’s what I do best…would you expect any less of me? 😉 ) And had read about a man who was standing in line waiting for his appointment with Centrelink who had a grand mal epileptic fit. It must have been bad because the paramedics were called and while they were dealing with the hapless man, his name was called out and as he was comatose at the time, he didn’t respond. The paramedics told the front desk that they would have to take the man off for observation but apparently that wasn’t good enough and he had his payments cut! He had to go to the Ombudsmen to have them reinstated…that scared me…the power that this bureaucracy had to not only ruin someone’s life…but keep the process going for a long…long time and force this man who was obviously in the right, to go to an Ombudsman to get what he was rightfully owed had me worried. Like all good behemoths, Centrelink has an incredible degree of power over people’s lives and like all good bureaucracies, they regularly run roughshod over the top of their “clients” in an effort to keep the wheels greased and the machinery running…collateral damage is inevitable but due to our most careful and honest dealings with them and our incessant need to shove all correspondence and paperwork into our filing cabinet and our inherent lack of trust regarding past dealings with this bureaucratic giant we were armed with the right kind and the right amount of ammunition to pierce their armour plated tanks and get to the crux of our problem.

After waiting we were seen by the very same lady that Steve had talked to earlier and at this point I would like to say that this lady did EVERYTHING that she could to help us. I want to give this lady my shiny happy voice from earlier in the day but by the time we got to see her I couldn’t find it any more…it was girded inside my underpants too tight to extract and so she got my worried middle aged penniless hippy countenance to have to deal with and she gave us back our hope. She said “This is weird!”… She asked us some pertinent questions and she said “what did you two do to have this happen?”…after that she looked at our papers, she took them off to her boss and she returned after having made a decision with her boss to use our paperwork to substantiate our claim and reinstated our payments immediately. I don’t know if this lady has any idea how her kindness helped us yesterday. Her female boss, although unseen, pulled strings to give us back our lives. This pair of kind women gave me back my Christmas spirit yesterday and my belief in human kindness…Lord knows I would turn into a machine working for this massive department where human desperation was the norm rather than an aberration and where the coalface regularly exploded against the pitted side of “the machine” but this woman genuinely cared. I wanted to reach over her desk and hug her but I settled for thanking her from the bottom of my heart and giving her my special shiny smile because SHE deserved it :o)… the rug has been reinstated and aside from having the value of our “asset” in town (the home that our daughters live in) revalued by the self-same government department that set the rateable value last year at our request (so presumably we shouldn’t see too much of an increase on what they set back then…) we have better than average odds of being able to manage this situation. What was our own private annus horribilus yesterday has been salved… for now…

And this brings me to the end of my post for today…Its walnut day and I have spent the whole post crying poverty and the end of the world and haven’t even mentioned Earl’s walnutty abilities! I wanted to save it till last. I wanted to inject you all with the hope and the smiley happiness that you deserve for surviving not only this mammoth post, but also the apocalypse! We are all true survivors folks…just getting out of bed alive in the morning and waking up is a miracle but we don’t think about that…we just take it for granted that we are going to breath…that we are going to make it to the end of the road in one piece and that we are going to live to old age unscathed…its moments like these that we NEED minties! Sorry…commercial jingles have incredible power over you!…It’s moments like these that you really see what is important and like Sting crooned “how fragile we are”… we really have something to give thanks for this Christmas…our lives have been reinstated…we didn’t have to live off the “kindness of strangers” and Effel Dookark didn’t have to give up her life to become Steve’s weekly ration of meat and we didn’t have to suffer the indignity and dehumanisation of going cap in hand to various community agencies to ask for help to pay our bills…and in the newfound honest and true spirit of gratefulness and thankfulness that a period of dangling over the edge of a precipice can deliver to a person I offer you Earls little walnut of great happiness…

And the winner is…

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Here is the video of Earl choosing Christi from the walnut selection 🙂

http://s1101.beta.photobucket.com/user/bezial27/media/earls_zpsa783bf6e.mp4.html

As our last post before Christmas Steve and I would both like to wish everyone out there the most wonderful Christmas…no matter how big or small it is…no matter how many relatives you have to contend with…no matter what your situation or your story we are all united by a common bond here and the bottom line is that we are all incredibly lucky to be sharing whatever celebrations we are sharing with each other and NOONE knows that more than we do today :o)… see you the day after boxing day where life should have returned to a degree of something approximating “normalcy” on Serendipity Farm and the poignancy of girded loins and walnut draws have melted into the past… gone but NOT forgotten :o)

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The winning walnut with Christi’s new wooden spoon 🙂

Steve has just told me that he really enjoyed making the spoon for this prize draw and has promised to make more lovely custom wooden spoons for future Serendipity Farm draws so everyone that missed out on the spoon this time will have more chances in the future to own a little piece of Serendipity Farm 🙂