Fumbling past 50

Hi All,

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A strange reflection in the water this morning looked like a sandbar across the river but must have been a reflection of Redwood Island to the right of the photo

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I have been hunting for diatomaceous earth for AGES now. David at wholesome house has just started stocking it and I can now use it with our chooks to rid them of any lice that they pick up and our dogs to kill intestinal parasites as well as with horticultural usage to kill aphids etc. It is human safe as well and apparently contains lots of minerals via the silica in the teeny tiny little fossils that comprise the powdered product. So glad to be able to buy it locally and support a small business in town 🙂

I am at ground zero the day after the big 5.0. birthday and so far nothing seems to have been lost since crossing that invisible but all too real line between “young” and “old”. I don’t seem to have lost my mind (so far), I haven’t started to resemble poor Brigitte Bardot in the wrinkle status and I could still get out of bed this morning without falling over despite imbibing freely of the demon drink last night. I had an altogether lovely birthday spent with Steve and got phone calls from family and friends to wish me happy birthday. I also received some amazing gifts from some precious friends out there to remind me that meeting people online is just as real as knowing them in person. I received a gorgeous jar of jam from my twin sister Christi in Olalla. I am starting to think that we might just be 2 of many “twins” out there Christi…a confraternity of women of “a certain age” who all share a common ethos a glorious muddle of middle aged possibilities who absolutely and positively refuse to fade into obscurity and whom age finds “windswept and interesting”. My jar of jam is precious. I get the jam, which is seriously the very best jam that I have ever eaten, I get the wonderful jar which I hoard with glee and use for my various date pastes and strange food creations along with the other precious jars from Olalla that I keep on my pantry shelf AND I get an amazing ziplock bag as well! I can hear you laughing Christi but as we live 50km away from the city where we shop, we only go in once a fortnight and we have to buy all of Steve’s milk at once so we freeze it. When I take the containers out of the freezer I place them in one of your huge ziplock bags (that we can’t buy here) and they don’t drip all over the fridge :o). I can’t forget that Earl had the MOST fun out of the coffee perculator box that you send me my jam and my wonderful “Official New Novelist Guidebook” which I am going to use as I write my novel all about “Life…the universe…and everything” according to narf. Earl shredded the box to within an inch of its life and aside from a few of the wonderful scrunched up comic pages that you added for our entertainment that I managed to save, he dove into the middle of them and went rip crazy…I have never seen him so happy since we bought him,  a whirling dervish of hurling tearing rolling delight :o)

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I still haven’t opened the jam yet…the anticipation of that first spoonful is almost as delightful as the jam itself 🙂

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The wise words and the friendship of Christi and Keith are the stuff that novels are made of 🙂

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Stewart and Kelsey and I on Kelsey’s birthday on Sunday (the day before mine 🙂 ) …and Earl photo bombing…

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I won’t tell you what Earl was doing on the sofa but it was shameful! 😉

Steve had to do the fortnightly shop on my birthday but when he got back he handed me a small parcel from Kym, my bestie from high school who I only caught up with again after mum died last year. She is coming for a visit on Friday and we are going to “Do” Tassie in style. I was most curious to open the parcel and found a wonderful small book that she had created all about our friendship. I must admit I cried. Circumstances made us drift apart but good friends are very difficult to lose. Poor Steve isn’t going to get a word in edgewise for the coming week and Kym and I are going to be trawling wineries, running up miles on her hire car and Kym has apparently booked somewhere amazing for us to stay on Saturday night in Hobart. I thought that we were going to do a day trip down so that Kym could visit the markets but now we can spend a lovely leisurely time at the Salamanca markets, we can wander around Hobart and we can head off to see what we can find. The apartment that we are going to be staying in looks amazing! It is right on the waterfront at Salamanca and I am going to take so many photos I am going to resemble a Japanese tourist. It’s all going to be great fun and by the time she heads back to her wonderful husband Bruce in order to celebrate her own 50th birthday, she is going to be knackered! She might just sober up by the time the 19th arrives but I very much doubt it! :o).

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A picture from the wonderful book that Kym had made and sent to me. This picture was taken in 1979 at Albany Senior High School when I was in year 11 at high school. Our close knit little group comprised Janet on the far left, yours truly, Kym, Kylie and Rachel. The photo was taken on the top balcony where seniors were able to take aim and drop water bombs on the juniors below…ah the sweet memories Kymmy 🙂

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The note informed me about how we are about to stay somewhere wonderful in Hobart overnight. Another adventure!

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This is apparently a present from the dogs for Kym and I in Hobart…I wonder what it is… 😉

I then got a message in the post to tell me that a parcel had arrived. I was on the phone to my sister Pinky at the time and she had sent me a parcel last week for my birthday. We both assumed that it was from her but it wasn’t. We have to head up to the small local store on the Batman Highway which acts as our local post office as well to pick up the parcel and when Steve got back it turned out to be something amazing. Not only did I get a wonderful and most glorious pair of knitted trousers from Jess aka rabidlittlehippy, but I also received a magnificent learning experience in the form of a fantastic book from Linne of A Random Harvest. 2 bloggers that I have gotten extremely close to over the last few months and who I think of as very close friends had sent me gifts from the heart. I adore my trousers. They are completely and utterly “me” and as Jess so rightly pointed out from the photos that I sent her to show that they both fit and “fit” me, they match our cupboards :o). I am wearing them now and will be sporting the winter camo look all the way to Exeter when we deposit the cheque that Steve’s mum sent to me for my birthday that arrived the same day. I love the book that Linne sent to me and will spend hours poring over it because it is an incredible tale of adventure, spirit and understanding and an empowering educational aid to anyone wanting to set out and do something a bit different on their land. Its “me” to a tee and I will be forever grateful to you for being able to see exactly what I needed and to be the bearer of another precious learning experience for narf7 to quaff liberally to add to my wonderful life experiences to date.

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I love that Linne found this book in an Australian bookstore for out of print books. Low carbon miles, high in the kudos factor girl…you did well and you made narf7 VERY happy on her 50th 🙂

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Aren’t these trousers the bomb! 🙂

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Steve told me to “work with me baby!” so I did 😉

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The trousers are wonderfully unisex…just sayin’ 😉

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Not only did I get some wonderful trousers and a fantasic book but the 2 wonderful art pieces that you see proudly displayed on our fridge were created by Jess’s wonderfully talented son Jasper. I will treasure them always Jas, one day they might be some of the first artworks that you produced (and then I will frame them! 😉 )

Steve has been helping a friend renovate his mother’s home in Launceston and when he was talking about my rapidly approaching 50th birthday, he was telling Guy that I adore bowls. Indeed I could be called a bowl fetishist my adoration is so compelling. Guy casually mentioned that he had a bowl that I would probably love and that I could have. It was a cava bowl, a ceremonial drink drunk by Fijian natives in their ceremonies and that he would give it to me on my birthday. I had no idea that I was getting this and Steve kept it from me amazingly well because Steve is usually unable to keep secrets. Guy and Roxie arrived in the afternoon armed with what Steve assumed to be a small wooden bowl but was actually a large bowl full of fruit! The bowl is amazing. I did a bit of research about it online after Guy and Roxie headed back home and found out that it was carved from a single piece of wood. I was amazed and delighted to discover that the wood used was Thespensia populnea and one of its common names is “Milo” wood! How very fitting that a Milo wood carved turtle shaped bowl would come back to live on Serendipity Farm. We couldn’t have Milo live with us, but we can have this Milo turtle to remind us of him :o). They also gave me $6 worth of scratch lottery tickets and I won $11 so all in all my birthday was a ceremony of good friends, wonderful gifts and incredible bon chance

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My wonderful antique milo wood cava bowl. I have named him Atuin in honour of his incredible turtleness. Rather than holding the earth on his carapace, he appears to be holding fruit, not a bad trade off methinks and twice as tasty

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A bottle of sticky next to Atuin the great fruit turtle

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Just in case anyone else out there wants to avail themselves of a particularly sweet and sticky drop. I got this bottle all to myself. Steve isn’t partial to sweet and sticky but I, the little fruit bat that I am, love it!

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Not only did I get Atuin I got fruit! I will be working my way through Atuin’s contents for the next few days. The bowl is currently minus the grapes, that apple and the banana and the kiwifruit (that I am allergic to) went back home with my daughters. Kelsey ate one of the lemons but the rest will be used wisely, one with Steve’s fish tonight

I still have my sisters “goodie box” to look forward to and my brother phoned last night and told me that he has a lovely hand framed photograph of Denmark, my home town earmarked to send to me. I am an incredibly lucky 50 year old woman to have so many friends and family who care about me :o). Steve bought me a wonderful deep frypan made from carbon steel that he carefully seasoned and that Brunhilda hasn’t managed to melt yet, a wonderful new kettle that makes my early morning tea making a blissfully quiet experience and 2 amazing heavy stoneware bowls with “tilt function” that I already treasure beyond belief. I have all of my children turning up today (Tuesday) for an impromptu birthday lunch together and hopefully soon Stewart and Kelsey will move to Launceston permanently. Stewart is applying for jobs here and hopefully he gets one and is able to move from inner city Melbourne to outer cumbuckance Launceston to start saving for their own property out in the bush somewhere. Tasmania is still a wilderness state despite the best efforts of miners and loggers to clear-fell and dig up the entire state for a few measly jobs and a lot of profit to be funnelled off elsewhere. If Stewart is able to get one of the jobs he has applied for they can move into the unit behind the home that we own in Launceston and live rent free so that they can save up for their own home. It’s a great chance to get their feet on the homeowners rung and to get out of the spiral of paying $2400 a month rent on what is effectively a very nice shoebox in the middle of inner city Melbourne.

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Stewart looking like a Serendipity Farm health inspector just about to close the kitchen down and me doing my level best to hide the evidence 😉

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If the wind changes you will stay like that Kelsey! The remainder of the Stromboli’s that I made for lunch on Sunday got polished off by Steve for his tea that night along with some homemade oven chips. Do you like my magnetic knife rack? I do 🙂

Today finds me replete with the knowledge that I am both liked and loved and that 50 hasn’t dampened my ardour for life. I might have woken up a bit seedy but that was self-induced. Sweet white wine is indeed the debils work folks! I did have the presence of mind to stop drinking it when dinner was taking a long time thanks to interruptions from friends and relatives phoning up in the evening. I am usually in bed at 7pm and last night I didn’t get dinner till 8pm. My meal was wonderful. I managed to take a photo of the formed beetroot and chickpea patties (that look rather disturbingly like ground meat!) but alas, the wine rendered me somewhat senseless and I forgot to take photos of the finished meal, I was ravenous by the time I got it and it was absolutely scrumptious. Steve had bought some triangle seeded rolls to put the patties on and formed the patties into triangles to echo the shape of the rolls. We topped them with baby leaves, peppery with rocket and fresh sliced vine tomatoes. I had sliced marinated artichoke hearts because I love them, sliced pickled jalapeno chillies and lots of sliced avocado and Steve made me homemade crispy oven fried potatoes. I haven’t eaten potatoes since February and they tasted amazing. I topped it all off by eating half of the wonderful macadamia and coconut cream icecream that Steve had made for me and dragged my desperately tired derrière off to bed at 9.30pm. I fully intended to sleep in till 5am but one of the dogs let out a dream howl at 3am and I wasn’t able to get back to sleep. I lay in bed till 4.30am and decided to get up. I am trying to sleep in a bit as I can’t be getting up at 2.30am while Kym is here…the poor girl doesn’t want to be sitting up at night with only Steve to talk to as I have gone to bed at 7pm so narf7 is trying to redirect her habits for a week…it is a most interesting experiment that seems to be failing but at least I am trying 😉

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The delightful contents of the box my wonderful sister Pinky sent to me that we picked up today from the post office. The plate and the gorgeous blue shell bedecked container are made by a local producer in Albany that Pinky and Jason know well who sells their wares at a local weekend markets. The gardening gloves and the tin of gardeners balm are wonderful gifts for someone about to embark on a comfort free lifestyle and the gorgeous pashmak underneath will be lovely wrapped around my neck in Hobart on my rapidly approaching visit. Thankyou HEAPS sis and here’s a big slobbery smootchy hug and kiss from Tassie…now go wipe your face, you know you want to! 😉

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This glorious pile of amazing wool came from my wonderful daughters Madeline and Bethany. They always know the perfect gift to give me and homed in on my wool fetish to my delight. I have NO idea what I am going to make out of all of this amazing wool but most of the balls have a pattern with them and I can get creative and learn some new skills. The gorgeous fluffy pure white ball at the front has the strangest creature as the pattern that looks like some sort of rabbit crossed with a ghost! Not sure I will be making it whatever it is 😉

What does turning 50 mean to me? Not a lot really. I don’t feel any different to when I turned 49 aside from being fitter and healthier than I have been in years. Perchance turning 50 has offered me a valuable lesson in life appreciation. I think mid-life crisis are just people suddenly becoming aware that life is half gone…that we are entering territory that people don’t like to talk about and most people desperately attempt to deny. “Old Age”…what is old age to be honest? It’s something that comes to all of us, no matter how much we try to deny it or repel it. There isn’t anything sadder than someone who point blank refuses to age gracefully. You won’t find me fervently purchasing new breasts on the black market to be inserted by Asian doctors in special clinics…I am perfectly happy with what I have. You won’t find me scouring the shelves of upmarket department stores for promises of eternal youth in a jar. I could care less about eternal youth…it’s entirely overrated folks! So much work to maintain an exterior when the interior needs so much more. You can’t take all that silicone and eye work with you when you go folks even though it will remain here to be dug up by some future archaeologist and our vanity and stupidity will no doubt be marvelled at. Just think your fake silicone boobs that have a half-life might end up as trophies on some grave digger’s shelf or be sold on the future equivalent of eBay as “antiques”…

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My wonderful bowls that Steve bought for me, showing how they “tilt” They are heavy stoneware and gorgeous.

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Don’t these look like they are made of meat?! They aren’t, they are beetroot and chickpea burgers and they were delicious. I still have 3 of them in the freezer for the next time I need a burger fix

50 has found me thoughtful and in a redirection phase. I now have intent and purpose to move forwards. Steve and I have been bumbling around and now I have direction. I am channelling my energies towards what is important and getting the veggie garden up and running is incredibly important. After Kym heads off Steve and I will be sinking 4 more poles in the centre of the garden to help make the netting that will be covering the enclosure more stable and less likely to yield to possum bouncing. We want to plant horizontally AND vertically and after learning all about how clever possums really are, I don’t want a repeat of my bean cube. I want to harvest enough dried beans to actually use this year and will use last season’s harvested dried beans to grow this seasons eating beans. I cleaned out my RSS Feed Reader and now I am slowly adding precious new blogs that are all about growing your own food and learning to use what you grow to maximum potential. The internet can be a big waste of time (think Pinterest) or a huge boost to your information highway, its really up to you. I have been channelling my Pinterest addiction to find lots of new places to learn how to ferment foods, how to grow things and how to make things myself. There is a wealth of free information out there and Pinterest can allow you to find things that you are specifically after…you just have to resist the temptation to wade into the pretty pictures and just funnel your searches to what you are actually after.

Chinese Red Dates

Steve likes to surprise me with little treats when he goes shopping and this fortnights treats started with these Chinese red dates. Not only are they delicious, but they are treasured by the Chinese as valuable medicine. I am in the process of sourcing a Ziziphus jujuba (Chinese Red Date) tree for Serendipity Farm as these babies are delicious

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This is coconut sugar. It’s a cross between brown sugar and molasses and tastes delicious. It’s another one of Steve’s little treats 🙂

I am going to write my first post for my new blog sharing experiment on “Not Dabbling in Normal” a compilation blog by some very interesting people all over the world. I need to get my first post up and running and find out how it all works, so far I am a bit confused about it but what the heck, in for a penny, in for a pound as my gran used to say! 50 has given me the impetus to start trying new things. I have decided that this is going to be my year of getting out of my comfort zone. I am going to do 1 thing a day that takes me out of my regular routine and that forces me to move forwards rather than remain safe. When I think of myself I imagine an image of someone who has plastered herself with protective glue and who sticks regular routine onto that glue like a hermit crab. I have all of my regular routines down pat…my inner control freak is most happy when everything is in its place. I was always good at mis en plus when I worked in the food industry. I like things to be “just so” and I don’t like chaos. I married chaos though so I am just going to have to learn to peel off some of my hermitty control freak layers and step out into the sunshine of the real world in my undies to see how the wind blows. Safe is good but it also stifles creativity and knowing that we only get 1 ride of this carousel called life, I don’t want to limit my life through my desire to remain contained and safe.

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We went to Launceston today to pick up some last minute things for Kym’s impending visit. Steve couldn’t find a hot water bottle on shopping day and we found one today but we also picked up a bag of toys for Earl from the thrift shop. He was pretty tired when we got home after dragging me all over Launceston on a most exciting walk and didn’t have the energy to rip them limb from limb so I tipped them into this old box till he regained his mojo

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Mojo regained! There aren’t many of these toys left and the box ended up shredded like wheat 😉

50 has gifted me the desire to set out on some new pathways. I am going to test myself. I am going to stop procrastinating and start “Doing”. I am just about to wood burn myself a sign that I am going to mount on the wall above my computer monitor. It is going to say “I can and I will”. I come from a long line of most determined women. They did amazing things despite their worldly limitations and I will be buggered if I am going to let the side down now! I will document my daily comfort breakers here and hopefully my journey into the unknown will help other control freaks out there break their own fears and will let them at least peel a few layers off their own hermitty shells of control to allow them to stop and smell the roses…watch a few clouds disappear into the ether and dance like they mean it. Watch this space folks…narf the elder is back…in pog form! See you next week. My comfort zone experience will be starting after Kym heads back home so the post after next should have some interesting components. Kym and I will be in full force doing Tassie to a tee this time next week so you can expect a few photos of the 2 of us and some adventures of our own. Till then, keep safe, but not too safe 😉

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It’s Leonhard Euler’s birthday today!

Hi All,

I can hear you asking “who is Leonhard Euler?” Is he narf7’s neighbour? No, my dear constant readers, Leonhard Euler is someone that was born hundreds of years ago…back in 1707 on the 15th of April. He was one of our founding fathers of mathematics and was Swiss (it figures). Why do I care that Mr Leonhard Euler was born today? Well to be honest I don’t. Google told me to go and check it out. It put a most interesting header on its home page today that when I clicked on an atom in the middle of the design, it spun. That’s how you lead lemmings to their deaths folks…you let them spin an atom and suddenly they are up to their armpits in mathematics and equations and formulae and they are drowning in the stuff! As I now know, life is half science and half maths. The scientists and mathematicians told me so. I like to live on the fringes of both disciplines in the “dead zone” when neither venture and where both fear to tread. I live in the part where I do little experiments to see just how insane I can make scientists and mathematicians whilst still maintaining my ethical position. Mr Leonhard Euler kindly left behind his likeness in portraits. He must have liked his likeness a LOT because there are a lot of them on the right hand side of my Google search page and most of them look like David Spade with a strange tic. Maybe the Swiss revered people that look like thin mean weasels? Perchance I am seeing a 300+ year old “Botticelli” moment right here where skinny weasel men were found to be the height of gorgeousness itself? I guess maths and science generated a degree of awe back then that could have linked itself to the sexy train? It’s easier to believe when you take a look at the other scientists and mathematicians that Google wants you to spend WAY too much of your precious time left on earth checking out. People like Joseph Louis Lagrange (who bears a strange resemblance to Mr Bean), Carl Friedrich Gauss (that looks like Spike Milligan at the height of his manic depression…) and Pierre de Fermat (a florid and most obvious proponent of the “comb over” who may have even invented this wonderful saving grace of the older man). Then you get to the scientists that “look like Steve”. Curiously there are several of them! I once envisioned Rincewind of Discworld fame as having a very strong resemblance to Steve but then I saw portraits painted of Isaac Newton and realised that Steve has been here before. I just saw another scientist/mathematician (who would know Google…you thoughtlessly expect me to click on that portrait to spend MORE of my precious life moments finding out? You are sadly mistaken!) called Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz (funny how you don’t want to correct THOSE names Spell check! 😉 ) that also bears a striking resemblance to Steve (and Isaac Newton at the same time)…I might have to ask Steve why he looks like these esteemed most learned gentlemen but why he could care less about science, mathematics and the general pursuit of research in any way shape or form…could it be another case of life trying to balance itself out? The enormous void of vacuous thought left in a permanent vacuum since these 2 esteemed learned gents passed away in a flash of blinding human inspiration has finally been allowed to reach equilibrium in one man born 300 years later…good on you Steve…you ARE doing your bit for science and mathematics after all! 😉

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Here is Bezial doing his very best to steal a ball of wool, run, and get away with it before I catch up with him…this is what you could call an “evidence” shot. Bezial swears black and blue that Earl is the most reprobated dog that was ever born…methinks history might be tapping at the window of that claim Bezial 😉

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One of Steve’s conquests from yesterdays Targa Tasmania photo opportunities. He was trying to take motion shots…not bad but I think Bezial was going faster in the previous photo 😉

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That’s more like it! Not a bad “motion” picture Steve 🙂

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That green hotel in the main street apparently does $5 pub meals on a Saturday night, 2 bottles of vodka for $30 or $1 pots of beer on the first and last Friday of the month…just sayin’ in case any of you find yourself in downtown Beaconsfield one night with $40 in your pocket…just a warning, you most probably won’t remember what you did the next day 😉

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This is the upmarket pub just over the road from the green pub. The meals are MUCH more expensive here…you can buy hot chocolate and expensive pastries and the clientele is MUCH more refined but $40 isn’t going to buy you much here…hot foot it over to the green pub and you can go home with some money in your pocket after most probably having a great deal more fun in the process 😉

Well that was your educational part of the post folks…it’s all downhill from here so hold onto your rollercoaster sea for a rapid descent into madness and scientific/mathematic deprivation. What has narf7 been up to since we last chatted eh? Well we submitted our assessments to our lecturer. It’s so much easier to push a button and hand in your work. You don’t have to see the expectant eyes of your lecturer and know that you dashed his hopes of ever making senior faculty member when he flicks through your work. As far as we can tell, our course, only going since late February, has seen a rate of attrition that is somewhat alarming. We keep seeing “new students” arriving and the online community that our lecturer steadfastly and quite frankly unrealistically expects we students who have never met and who are competing with each other to forge hasn’t quite gotten off the ground yet. We all seem to be circling each other in cyberspace trying to get a feel for the competition. We know that 2 media lecturers from Queensland are taking this course. Why? Who would know! We also know that all students are supposed to create a blog space so that our work can be posted and seen by our fellow classmates. There are apparently 20 people taking our course and only 6 of us have blogs. It IS good to see other students work. You think your own work is sad until you are able to measure it up and see that we are all sad together. It unites and gives allegiance to your endeavours and your unseen class when you can see that their work is at least as pathetic as your own. Most of our class have had a fair bit to do with digital art. Some are obviously artists and most of them are very comfortable with the platform. Steve and I are less familiar with digital art, although Steve has messed about with Photoshop a lot and is a whole lot more familiar with it than I am. I am really enjoying this course which I didn’t expect. Putting a bit of faith in Steve’s ability to choose a bridging course that would allow me to keep some of my hair this year was curiously a wise thing to do! My OCD tendencies to guide him to an area where I felt more at home (say brain surgery…) were cram packed down (with great difficulty I might add) because I might be OCD…I might be a “strong woman” (you can read that how you will 😉 ), I might have some very VERY strong opinions about things but I know that my way is only half of this journey that we are walking together. When I say “walking”…a fair bit of our journey has been running in the opposite direction of each other to be honest. We spend a lot of time tussling over things…trying to get our own way and being very childish but when we are able to work together on those rare occasions when someone forces us to behave, we are always amazed at the results and how they are SO much better than the sum of us :o).  This course is bringing out our creative sides and aside from showing me that being out of your comfort zone can, indeed, be a good thing, it is teaching me that I really don’t always know best. I am like a fish out of water here and Steve is the maestro genius and I am actually enjoying allowing him to take the rudder of the boat. “Keep steering Stevey boy…the first rock you hit I will be RIGHT HERE!” 😉

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Remember those soaking soybeans from my last post? Here is the reason why they were soaking. This is my handy dandy über schmick soy milk maker. I have had it for years and it has lived in a dusty fugue up in the cupboard until I decided that I may as well use it and have been making some very interesting non dairy milks in it of late

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After soaking the soybeans overnight I skin them. Then I put the beans into the filter container

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After heating, grinding, magic, alchemy and a little bit of fairy dust the milk ends up in the stainless steel container and the okara, or soybean lees remain in the filter container

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Here’s the home made hot soymilk after I added some date paste to sweeten it slightly and half a teaspoon of Himalayan rock salt to balance the flavour out

I have been up for an hour and haven’t even looked at my RSS Feed Reader. I finally managed to clean it out on Saturday. Saturday was my son Stewarts 31st birthday. Just typing that probably made him wince in his sleep. I would imagine he had plans of world domination by the time he was 31. I know he wanted to be at least PART robotic by now. He inherited his mother’s OCD need to have everything “just so” but takes it to extremes that my OCD brain can only marvel at. Do any of you have your entire financial life planned out for the next 5 years? I am talking about EVERYTHING here folks… no? Well you can sit back and admire my son’s resolve. The funny thing about resolve is that there is always…ALWAYS something that comes along and stuffs it up. It’s like life, the universe and everything is just waiting to have a bit of fun at your expense. You plan to be married by 30…in the next 10 years you are going to have 2.5 kids (the way Monsanto is going, we can pretty much be guaranteed of that .5) and to be well on the way to owning our own homes, being financially secure and with a decent portfolio of stocks and shares to see us through to a rich and enviable old age. Does that sound like your life? Mine neither! I think what we humans want, and what we are supposed to be living like is so far apart that there is room in the middle to drive a comet through. How did we get so far away from our ideals? There isn’t anything wrong with ideals folks, it’s just when we choose to think that they are the ONLY way to arrive at the Pearly Gates having lived a rich and satisfying life that we hit problems and brick walls. Most of the depression that the pharmaceutical companies are milking for all they are worth is spawned of a completely unrealistic sense of entitlement that we are led to believe is “the norm”. If I remember right…”Norm” was Dame Edna’s husband with the enlarged prostate…he was also that little guy from the 70’s with the terry towelling hat on in the “Slip, Slop, Slap” commercials… do we REALLY want to be Norm?! I know I don’t! I am as prone to idealistic regrets as anyone. I spent a good proportion of my early adolescence up our backyard tree watching the neighbours and being completely envious of their lifestyle. I thought I was the ONLY one who was suffering by not being “normal”…I wrote dark poems and read dark books and spent too much time ruminating about how everything was so “UNFAIR”… If I had been motivated I could have been the figurehead of the soon to emerge Gothic revival but I didn’t have enough motivation to be anything really. I think a lot of people my age had this kind of drifting feeling back then. We had NO idea what we were going to do, where the world was going, how we were going to get anywhere and most of us are still drifting and goodness only knows what we did mentally to the children that we brought into the world to drift along with us. I would imagine that is why we are seeing a revival of homesteading. Of learning the ways of the natural world and of pragmatic fundamentalism…nature regaining equilibrium and trying to pull in the reigns. The older I get, the more I can see how it really does all work together. I guess that’s the benefit of age? You get to see it for yourself. You get to stick your finger into the wounds and you get to be able to say to yourself “yup…it’s dead”. Nothing like a healthy dose of observation over time to give you as much perspective and incentive you need to attempt to redress your own personal stuff ups and try to do what you can to share your newfound wisdom with your kids. The problem is, by the time nature gets around to teaching you all of this wisdom, your kids don’t want to listen to you any more…they are too busy “living” and your wisdom isn’t part of their ethos. I think that life, the universe and everything has a very VERY good sense of humour don’t you? 😉

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This is the contents of a bag of dried dates

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This is a bag of dried dates on their way to becoming date paste, my new sweetener of choice. Once I make the date paste I then add the soaking liquid (sweet in it’s own right) back into the Vitamix goblet and process the goblet clean whilst making “date syrup”…no waste here folks! 🙂

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Kid Creoles babies that seem quite happy to spend half of their time up to their eyeballs in date sweetened soymilk and even the equivalent of pureed chickpea porridge. Sounds gross BUT it tastes really good! I am enjoying experimenting with homemade non-dairy kefir equivalents

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From a conglomeration of tiny little kefir brains to this uncured walnut that also looks like a brain. The curious thing is that both kefir and walnuts are actually good FOR your brain…nature is more than colour coded 😉

Steve is off to do the fortnightly shopping today. I get to wend my way around the web should I choose to. I have a sourdough carrot cake to bake today and when Steve gets back with my organic chickpeas, my 2 bags of Aussie almonds and a few obscure articles (for Serendipity Farm they are obscure…at least till we can grow them ourselves 😉 ) like a jar of kalamata olives (we have 2 kalamata olive trees…), an avocado (we have 7 avocado trees to be planted out…), a rough approximation of ½ cup of raw cashew pieces (“err on slightly more Steve…DON’T BE TIGHT…I need them for tomorrow…), 500g of raw sesame seeds, a large red capsicum, a packet of dried mixed herbs, a lemon and some Himalayan pink mineral salt. Why the strange foodstuffs? Because narf7 is going to create folks…narf7 is going to work her alchemistic magic on these, and lots of other foodstuffs to create something magnificent for her coming debut in “The Virtual Vegan Potluck”. Remember that OCD that I mentioned earlier? Well it is coming out en mass and it insists that I do a “good job”…forget “good job” who are we kidding? It is screaming at me to “KNOCK THEIR SOCKS OFF!”…sigh…almost 50 and I STILL can’t make that voice go away! Here’s the deal folks, I plan on making something that combines my vegan foodie predilections (good word that one…it might just be my word for the week 😉 ) with our ideals. I want to use as much of our own produce in the form of home grown tomatoes, eggplants, walnuts etc. combined with things that we have made with our home grown produce, dried mushrooms, dried herbs, sundried tomatoes etc. to show how we are trying to produce as much of the food that we eat as we can. I want to show the processes involved and the true cost of the food that we eat. No “Tofutti cream cheese” or “Daiya” vegan cheeze for this little black duck…this recipe is going to show its creation from go to whoa and all stages in between. By the end of the recipe I want to give people an overview of what permaculture can do for you and how to harness yourself to nature to arrive someplace that you both want to be. It’s one heck of a challenge and with my little Fujifilm point and click, I am going to try to take anyone curious enough to click on my link (or to be following the linkies through to the end) on a little journey of creation. At worse they might learn something before hurrying off to the next recipe. At best they might get a bit of a tour through the real price (monetarily AND physically) of the food that ends up on their plates. Either way, my narfy job will be done! Hopefully you will all want to come along for the journey with me to see just how OCD narf7 can be and how twitchy my perfection valve gets when I am honing my current point of interest ;). I just learned something. Daiya non-dairy cheeze has an Aussie website where you can go and sign a petition to get Daiya cheezes into our supermarkets! There are obviously more vegans in Australia than I initially thought ;).

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The chickens on day release from their prison and “Pig” one of the feral cat’s extremely interested in the proceedings…right up to the time when he found out that my old girls know how to deal with cats! Lets put it this way…Pig will think twice before he eyeballs a hen again 😉

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Something else that you can make with dates…the recipe for this one is on page 178 of the 15th edition of the C.W.A. cookbook (circa 1954). Don’t have it? Sorry ladies, it is worth more than my life to print it out here…those C.W.A. women are positively fatal when riled up! 😉

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I HAVE been busy! This is one of 8 eccles cakes that I made for Steve the other day. No dates here but lots of fruit macerated in sugar with spices and a bit of butter all wrapped up like the pentagon in some puff pastry…the pentagon bit was entirely unintentional you can be assured, it stemmed from a complete lack of ability to make a circle 😉

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This is some “Gouda Uncheeze” that I made as part of the recipe that I am making for The Vegan Virtual Potluck this year in May. It looks like cheese, it grates like cheese and even though it doesn’t taste exactly like cheese, my Omni husband said “you can tell your blog readers that I LOVE cheese but I can’t stop eating this stuff!” that is kudos indeed folks! 😉

I have created my masterpiece! Can you see the lightning and hear the crazed sound of my assistant Stevgor as I harness the lightning to bring my creation to life? Well it wasn’t THAT impressive but I managed to create the ingredients that I needed, create my recipe from scratch and feed some of it to Steve (remembering how VERY fussy he is) and none of it came back out to decorate the walls and he actually said “that’s very tasty…apart from the olives…”. I forgot that Steve doesn’t like kalamata olives BUT he was caught nibbling the ends off my piece of grated homemade “cheeze” and said “you can use that in the recipe…your husband the cheese lover couldn’t stop eating this stuff”. There you go…my own endorsement!  We got our feedback back from our lecturer about our assessment and it was incredibly positive and full of “sandwich” praise. Our lecturer is a sandwich man. He likes to give you something positive…hit you in the solar plexus with a swift bit of criticism and suddenly back to a nice soft pillowy bit of super-white bread to cover up the negative and leave you feeling all fluffy.  We got a whole lot of bread and hardly any filling this time which made us both incredibly pleased. Not a lot to fix up which is also great and everything we need to fix is minor and cosmetic. Now we move into some serious Photoshop with the next unit. Steve headed off and took some great motion shots at Targa Tasmania. Our property backs onto a bit of a wild corner on a steep hill so the cars tend to be ramping up a bit of speed by the time they get to where my dear gnome like husband was perched with his trusty point and click, a whole new world of manual settings and a couple of tutorials about “how to take motion shots” under his belt. The whole road was sealed off and although there were lots of people standing at the junction of Auld Kirk Road (2 of them slept in their cars overnight…we know…when we walked the dogs we saw them there 😉 ) Steve had a completely uninterrupted and pesky human free view thanks to the back paddock and the rest of our neighbours being elderly and not caring two hoots about fast cars. We can use some of his shots for our Photoshop unit and are already working on our first part of it. It promises to be very interesting and I am surprised about how excited I am to be learning about digital photography. We are actually thinking of upgrading our point and click Fujifilm to the latest model. I get to keep Betsy, my old faithful (who tends to take more macro shots than anything else these days 😉 ) and Steve can have the new one. We just got paid some sort of unexpected one off government payment (election year…can anyone say “bribe”? 😉 ) that amounted to just over $150 between us so that seems like a worthy  cause for that windfall.

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“Well looky what I found in the pantry…”

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“How the HECK am I supposed to get into this thing!”

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Brunhilda wanted to get in on the photographic action…here she is doing what she does best nice and early in the morning 🙂

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Steve won this jam recently for correctly identifying what flick weed was with my twin in Olalla Christi of http://farmlet.wordpress.com/ fame. Christi is making a little pot of her absolutely AMAZING jam for every single one of the exponentially increasing guests at her beautiful daughters wedding. Christi, you deserve a medal! Not only does she deserve a medal but she deserves a hug…she just made Steve’s day :). Look what arrived in the mail today. A gorgeous jar of 4 berry jam that Steve is going to devour slowly and with great lip smacking on his morning toast till he scrapes the last sliver from the jar. Then he has plans for the jar as well…I naturally thought that I would be a winner as well because I would get the jar but NO! The jar is “my own personal trendy hipster jar that I can drink moonshine out of when I make moonshine”…how could you argue with that reasoning? ;).

It’s 3.52am… I have 14 hours till post time…we have a quarter tank of petrol in the Daihatsu, no cigarettes, it’s dark and my sunglasses are within reach…time to hustle folks! See you Saturday for another round of “let’s learn to tango with narf7” on Serendipity Farm :o)

Sustaining and the ability to smile while the felt hats spout their wisdoms

Hi All

I posted my hump day post yesterday and suddenly I have to write another post today thanks to me heading off tomorrow to my daughters place to spend the weekend with them and to attend an all-day Food Sustainability series of talks by various local speakers on Saturday. I am looking forwards to learning something from this and am taking my camera so that I can share the day with you all. Our Serendipity Farm soil should be winging its way across our wide brown land and launching into the stratosphere to head to the U.S. to be analysed and then the results sent back here for us to learn just how nutritionally deficient it really is. I wonder what they do with all of the soil from all over the world that gets sent to them. Is there a little multicultural compost heap out the back fermenting all sorts of soil nationalities into one small melting pot of ex worm castings and sifted hopes and dreams? I have been researching taking cuttings from kiwifruit vines because a new acquaintance has kiwifruit vines (both male and female) on his property and has most generously told us to knock ourselves out and take whatever plant material that we want. I was all prepared to head off secateurs in hand with my right index finger twitching in anticipation when I discovered that I am exactly 6 months early for the window of cutting viability opportunity…the story of my life! We are just about to prune the same acquaintance’s peach tree grown from a peach smuggled from the U.S. many years ago. I didn’t have the heart to lecture him as the tree is now a mature specimen and Tasmania hasn’t suddenly been overrun by U.S. peachy boll weevils. He also has a large walnut tree and several hazelnuts, all of which I will gladly take advantage off should the offer be made. He also gave us several currant shrubs that had been hacked down to the roots that I thought were dead, but noticed the other day are coming back from the base. One man’s trash is most definitely this adventitious gardeners treasure and I wonder what else is out there that I might be able to trade for something else?

This is the old Beconsfeild mine building

Steve and I walk the boys around Bonnie Beach in Kayena on a regular basis. It is quite close to home, has a plethora of barking dogs that greet the boys with varying degrees of excitement and is a mix of beach walk, bush walk and country lane stroll with various stop offs for Steve to feed his new pony friends bits of apple and carrot. It was on one of our walks that we noticed a lemon tree full to the brim of ripe lemons and many lemons rotting underneath it on the ground. We had been planning to make lemon wine and were lamenting how people didn’t use the resources available to them. We wondered if they would swap some of our free range eggs for some of their lemons. We keep forgetting to write a note to put into their mailbox when we head out for our walks but I wonder how many people have fruit trees, nut trees and other natural resources on their properties that they don’t take full advantage of? This all comes from me thinking about making the most of Serendipity Farm and the upcoming Sustainable Food series of talks. I have agreed to do a talk next year about minimising your carbon footprint by eating locally and more sustainably. As a vegan I can share lots of unfamiliar (but tasty) recipes with people who may never have thought that living without meat and dairy products and eggs was possible. Tasmanians eat more meat than their mainland counterparts and tend to shun any vegetables other than potatoes and peas and carrots, all of which grow very well here in Tasmania. It’s difficult to change the habits of generations and many Tasmanians’ don’t see why they should have to. It’s not up to me to harangue the natives and alienate them and they are much more likely to listen to me if I present them with delicious food, prepared well and with a low carbon footprint. As they say “you get more flies with honey than you do with vinegar” and I would tend to agree.

A arty pic from Deviot looks gloomy earl looks concerned

I have to leave Steve in charge of Herman my new baby sourdough starter. Steve has to feed him and divide him up twice while I am away. He had quite a traumatic journey through the post and has crossed several states to get to his new forever home and I would hate for him to expire before I get a chance to bake at least SOMETHING with his heady yeasty boozy oozy little body. I have great plans for Herman. He will be the father of millions all over Tasmania and will answer the prayers of several sourdough losers’ lovers who like me, have not been able to negotiate the mystery of the magic starter for whatever reason.  I have been known to sniff the sourdough loaves surreptitiously in the supermarket and linger longingly in the bakery around the large crusty loaves. I have even been known to fondle the wrappers wistfully and never once did I think that I would EVER be able to bake my own sourdough but now, thanks to Rhianna, I have the opportunity to raise my own little sourdough boy. He might develop strange nuances thanks to the local strains of invaders but he will rise above all of the challenges and will produce loaves, pitas, muffins, bagels, pretzels, pizzas, focaccia and more…that’s IF he survives this first critical weekend…I have been reading all about sourdough starters and have learned all sorts of interesting things including how sourdough starters can be represented in different states including liquid and solid and how they can also be lumps of older dough that get mixed into the new batch. What an amazingly versatile ferment! The more I look into fermenting food the more excited I get. I am a naturally excitable person and fermentation pushes my excitement buttons BIGTIME. Just about everything can be fermented with varying degrees of nutritional enhancement, increased digestibility and development of flavour and aroma. My kimchi is still emitting an “interesting” aroma. I put it down to the enormous quantity of garlic that I added to the paste. Steve has made it known that I don’t have anything to worry about him sneaking out Nigella style in the night for a midnight snack involving my kimchi in ANY form. All the more for me babe…all the more for me!

A little spot we stopped with the boys on our morning walk what a beauitiful place we live in

I headed into the bedroom to pack my suitcase tonight and was shadowed by the two boys who instantly put two and two together and decided to stop me from going. Bezial distracted me by giving me seal eyes and Earl promptly unpacked my case and ran off with my shoe. After a brief tussle/scuffle with him for repossession of my shoe I returned to packing my bag and two seal eyed dogs balefully watching me from the bed. They don’t like it when the pack is divided. I don’t know why…If I was them I would be happy to take advantage of being able to steal my spot in the bed, not having to listen to me telling them off and no “fat anchor” dragging behind them on our walks but love is thicker than sulking and I think they have forgiven me after some chin scratches and ear stroking. I will spend the weekend patting Qi, learning about food sustainability and having my daughters cook for me. It will be nice to have someone else cook something for me and the girls are both very good cooks so I am looking forwards to some good meals. Steve was sad when the Olympics finished but he has his Hillbilly television back now so has settled down into gator wrangling, crazy survivalists, hog wrestlers, pawn stars and storage locker raiders. He can watch his horror movies with impunity this weekend, he can fall asleep on the couch without me teasing him and he can bring his shed projects inside and work on them on the kitchen table and I will NEVER know. He can eat whatever he likes and so long as he feeds Herman and the dogs and chickens I will be a happy camper.

I love this mail box

Steve and I spend all of our days together. Unlike most couples, we have learned to coexist together 24/7 even though we are like chalk and cheese. Steve bagses cheese so I guess that leaves me with chalk. It’s curious that the two of us are so very different but when we are able to work together, we tend to be able to do a really good job thanks to the very things that make it hard for us to understand what the heck the other one is going on about. It’s like putting Yin and Yang together and making that nice little black and white swirly symbol. When you separate them you get black and white tadpoles but put them together and you get harmony. We are learning to work together better and not a moment too soon as next year we are hoping to be accepted into an online graphic arts course to learn how to use Adobe Illustrator so that we can use it to create amazing concept plans for our garden designs. I met a lady (also named Fran/ces) at the Transition Town day that I went to back at the beginning of August who is a certified Permaculture teacher and who is interested in taking Saturday classes in Permaculture rather than large blocks of residential lecturing which tend to be very expensive and totally out of our reach. To be able to learn all about Permaculture and to apply it to what we are currently learning and hybridise everything we have learned with a sustainable lien has my excitement valve steaming. Everything seems to be falling into place and pointing us towards a truly sustainable lifestyle on Serendipity Farm and now that we don’t spend our waking study hours like Homer and Bart Simpson alternating with exhibiting protagonist and antagonistic behaviour we are starting to see the possibilities that our studies may present to us. I would love to teach people how to live sustainably and how to design their available spaces to fit their food requirements. I love solving problems (apart from cryptic crosswords…what the HECK are they all about?) and being able to help people AND solve problems would be my idea of a wonderful job. Who knows where we might end up? All I know is that we are certainly enjoying the ride to get there

A cool plant that made our old teacher James very excited and happy

This post is going to be a bit shorter than my usual posts. I will choose to ignore all of you who just cheered and will simply smile wistfully at you in a very enigmatic way to shame you. Consider yourself shamed! I hope to have all sorts of interesting food stories to share with you including the meals that I ate at my daughters, photos of a townie sort of bent and despite all of the fun, frivolity and camaraderie I will no doubt be blissfully happy to return back to the folds of Serendipity Farm and back to Steve, Herman, the boys, the chooks, Brunhilda and our simple but incredibly satisfying life here on Serendipity Farm. A change is as good as a holiday folks and the best part of a holiday is realising that there is no place like home. See you all on Wednesday :o).

same plant pretty isnt it , its from new zealand

I was going to do a little post of my own but have decided to hi jack frans post here while she’s away… I was paying for my petrol today and I was waiting and hoping that I hadn’t forgotten how much was in the bank as it was taking a while to process and the girl said “sorry the machines are running slow today” this struck me as something from an old time film or some old future doom and gloom book or similar. We are so reliant on “the machines” can we function if the actually stop? God forbid we have no power, no machines. We will spiral into chaos I think, teens will be holding their mobile phones in bemusement saying “no Facebook” This is the scenario for the ultimate terrorist strike , kill all the machines and you have the ability to become almost invisible to all you are trying to strike against. I know I sound like a doom merchant here but I just had a George Orewllien moment today lol. Big Brother is watching and if he loses his power grid he becomes blind, we are  at the mercy of machines each day , cash , petrol, you name it we can’t shop without a machine. The local store that used to take (uk here remember) 10 bob now accepts MasterCard and visa and pay pass on a daily basis. I was a kid my machine was a bike and some pegs with playing cards on the  forks to make a cool sound, I had a battery operated tape player and a few other things that ran on power but the main thing I had was cash , coins and folding filthy luka (go check luka out). I had to make sure I had 10p for a phone call if I needed it.  In 30 something years I have gone from a boy on a bike to a man that checks mails and Facebook. The machine are slow some days and I love that we can use them to get stuff and to meet folks , if it wasn’t for a machine I would not have met my wonderful wife (I can say what I like she can’t stop me tonight lol) thankyou machines thankyou technology but I know that if tomorrow came and all went I would not scream to bad , can’t say I would be happy but I could adjust and hey we could all do the same if we had to. I guess what I am saying is we have all this stuff at our fingertips and we don’t seem to realise what we have.

Cloudy paper beach

Ok that’s my bit here and I have to say that I think I have come across sounding like John Connor from terminator lol if the machines rise then they shall fall as they need man at this point in time to start them up , we should worry when they have no needs for man and then we have to ask if the machines are slow today can we take advantage and make the most of the slow day or do we just say oh that’s ok we can wait …… deep ? confused? that’s Steve after a few wines and control of this machine

Yeah not many of these pics relate to Frans post but they are nice pics and im in charge of posting them lol

Sorry that I spouted here babe but I had the feeling that I could add a little to your post lol I will sweep the rugs in penance lol bye folks and remember if the machines are running slow smile and says that’s ok as they are still running and that for now is all we need till they stop and then we will all get creative ….. Bye ( hope this made some sense)