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Archive for September, 2013

“Nature will bear the closest inspection. She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its plain.”
Henry David Thoreau

***

Serendipity Farm is almost devoid of plains. Plains are not something that we get to see a lot of here in Tasmania. I struggled to find a few photos of “plains”. I then remembered that “plain” means more than one thing! I want to share someone here who is just “plain old comfortable”…

Bezial found a sunbeam

Bezial found a sunbeam

And here is one of the bush tracks within an hour of Serendipity Farm that we can head off to whenever we get bored of our regular dog walking tracks…it’s just “plain gorgeous”…

Cool Temperate Sclerophyll Forest track in Northern Tasmania

Cool Temperate Sclerophyll Forest track in Northern Tasmania

***

I (Sincerely, Emily) and in the same boat with Fran (figuratively speaking of course.) No open plains or prairies with beautifully dancing grasses. Just plain life happening around here.

A plain view of dinner (not quite a landscape, is it?)

dinnergetting ready for a plant sale as part of the local garden club I belong to.

Need to keep an eye on that deer in the left of the photo! She will come and munch on everything

Need to keep an eye on that deer in the left of the photo! She will come and munch on everything

I want to say “just plain life,” but my life is anything but plain. There is a lot of “not dabbling in normal” around here.

***

The plains are my (Alexandra) landscape. Although I spent my childhood in the rocky passages of Pennsylvania, my heart belongs to the prairie. My brother has an eye for its beauty:

9643416005_e067fbeb9f_bphoto: (c) Andrew Paul Nelson 2013

Do you have great views of plains in your area?

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This past Sunday we focused our Sunday Photos post on “rivers.” South Texas has been getting some spotty showers. Don’t get me wrong, every drop helps, but I have nothing to contribute about rivers at this point. In the beginning, I had even titled this post “This has nothing to do with rivers.”

Oh, sure, I can show you what the neighborhood dry creek beds looked like on Memorial Day weekend this year. That was great! It is just frustrating to not get much rain at all. Heat, Hot, Humid. Yuck. That is summer here (for me at least) and come this time of year I am more than ready for it to me over over OVER. This is also the time of year I talk about giving up trying to start a garden in the spring. I know it will start to cool off at some point. Hopefully I will feel better when that happens and I will get excited about starting the fall garden (at my own pace!)

scented geranium ready for selling at the jubilee this weekend.

scented geranium ready to selling at the jubilee this weekend.

This week I have a lot going on. The local garden club, that I am a part of, participates in the annual jubilee in our town. We sell plants that each member donates, and I donate a lot of plants that I have nursed a long throughout the summer. This year I also have made up 2 of the planters that are for the raffle. The deer, possums, and racoons have been less than helpful over the past month and a half. I go out and find the majority of the pots nibbled down to nothing or plain old dug up. I’ll tell ya, it is hard to get a nice pot of succulents or greenery looking at its best in order to sell raffle tickets with those kinds of set-backs.

You know when you really want to cry but all you can do is laugh... that was me. Finally decided to bring the raffle planters inside each night. What a pain!

You know when you really want to cry but all you can do is laugh… that was me. Finally decided to bring the raffle planters inside each night. What a pain!

During all this, I took the plunge and bought a brand new laptop, complete with Windows 8. I was working my way through the Windows 8 part but the laptop started acting up. Looping on start-up, getting stuck. After days and days and hours each day talking to technical support the laptop just up and died. DIED! (this is #1 in this chain of technological events!)

You would think that would be enough. Nope. Then my cell phone died. Died! Dang it, that is #2 in this string of events.

My brother helped to calm me down and get me set up with a new phone. Oh, let’s make that a challenge too! I now am the proud new owner of an iPhone 4 (I don’t feel smart yet!) right in the middle of the week with so much going on. I am working through figuring out some stuff. Just working through why I couldn’t hear any calls on the phone or head set was downright frustrating… until I figured out I just needed to take off the plastic protect bit on the front of the phone. Oh, that is so much better. The fun part about the phone is that it has a Wisconsin area code, so I am just telling people that I moved to Wisconsin and got a new phone. Maybe I will get some peace and quiet for a while. haWhatI’d like to say it has just been one of those weeks, but in reality it has been 2+ of those weeks. To top it off, my brand new iPhone slid off the car seat and into my nice tall tumbler of water yesterday. YUP! Can you believe that? The next call was to my brother to ask if I had insurance on the phone (no, I don’t!) but it is still working. and Yes, I did put in a bag of rice.

After writing this all out I figured out a better title to this post, so I changed it. No tears have been shed, but things sure have been frustrating. I will tell you that it was nice and quiet around here for a few days without a computer or cell phone. Technology is sure nice when it works, just super frustrating when it doesn’t!

Somebody must be trying to tell me something…. I am a bit slow sometimes and I haven’t figured out what it is yet.

How has your week been turning out?

Sincerely, Emily

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Shanksville

What strikes one first about the site of the crash of Flight 93 is how remote it is. A reasonable drive from Pittsburgh, one of the largest metropolitan areas in the U.S., set among forested hills full of resorts and towns, the plane came down in the open fields of a former surface mine, safely removed from habitation.

Unless, as has been speculated, they were shot down where they would do the least damage, the hand of the god is the only explanation. The minute luck that planted them here, where only those on the plane could be hurt, is almost impossible to grasp.

Unlike nearby Gettysburg, where centuries of rain and sun, where replanting and plowing and growing have put the ghosts to rest, they still drift on the breeze in Shanksville.

I was there on a rainy weekday- perhaps 10 people were there. Prayer felt difficult, but I recited a psalm, and the kaddish, and yes, a Muslim prayer as well, inscribed on a scrap phonetically. I placed a pebble on the end of the monument (wondering why there were no pebbles there but mine), to mourn the suffering of the world that was highlighted by this terrible act, and to honor the terrible bravery of the passengers and crew who died.

DSCN0509

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Hi All,

When I saw that one of the topics for us to delve into was “Rivers” I smiled. The front gate of our property (Serendipity Farm) is just over the road from the river…

The view of the Tamar River from our deck

The view of the Tamar River from our deck

The road near our home

The road near our home

When I look out of the window I see the river. The Tamar River is part of our lives and our constant companion. It keeps the property cooler in summer and warmer in winter and allows us to grow plants on the property that would succumb to frost anywhere else. It is the culmination of the North Esk River and the South Esk River and is subject to some pretty wild tides at certain times of the day. Here are 2 of the smaller tributaries that flow into the North Esk River to eventually form the Tamar River…

DSCF5201

I bet there are trout here!

Liffey Falls

Liffey Falls

The river is salt water where we are but the South and North Esk are both freshwater and full of trout and eels. Where we live is a shark nursery and in summer the water is full of these jellyfish that flow in and out to sea on the tide…

The kind of jellyfish that the Chinese dry and eat. I am yet to attempt this...

The kind of jellyfish that the Chinese dry and eat. I am yet to attempt this…

The Batman Bridge spans the river from the West side (our side) to the East side and is the only way to cross the Tamar River outside of Launceston…

An early evening shot of The Batman Bridge

An early evening shot of The Batman Bridge

It took a long time to get used to riverbanks with black volcanic soil and smooth round pebbles. In Western Australia I was used to white sand and shells. This image shows some of the driftwood that we regularly see on the riverbanks as we walk the dogs it was taken directly opposite our front gate…

The river taken just opposite our gate

The river taken just opposite our gate

When my father died he left us Serendipity Farm and he also left Steve this small aluminium dinghy. Steve promptly ignored it for the first year that we were here but last year it was christened “The Mumbly Cumumbus” and set sail on the high seas regularly. Here are some photos that Steve took while he was out fish and pootling about on the river…

The good ship Mumbly Cumumbus on one of last summers voyages

The good ship Mumbly Cumumbus on one of last summers voyages

A Steve eye view of the world in the Mumbly Cumumbus

A Steve eye view of the world in the Mumbly Cumumbus

A small excursion up the river to Deviot our neighbouring town

A small excursion up the river to Deviot our neighbouring town

A lovely shot Steve took of Redwood Island, not far from Serendipity Farm

A lovely shot Steve took of Redwood Island, not far from Serendipity Farm

If you look VERY carefully to the right of the Auld Kirk Church in this photo you might be able to find our house...

If you look VERY carefully to the right of the Auld Kirk Church in this photo you might be able to find our house…

Steve and I are studying at the moment and part of our course involves learning how to manipulate images. Steve took a photo of a Serendipity Farm sunset taken towards the river and turned it into a Christmas Bauble…by the way…there are only 106 days left till Christmas 2013…

Pity this wasn't one of our assessments

Pity this wasn’t one of our assessments

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It is only in appearance that time is a river. It is rather a vast landscape and it is the eye of the beholder that moves.
Thornton Wilder

While the river of life glides along smoothly, it remains the same river; only the landscape on either bank seems to change.
Max Muller

***

What lovely sentiments. Serendipity Farm is perched on a hillside that flows down into the Tamar river. Where we live, the river is salt water but further inland it’s freshwater. The locals in Sidmouth call themselves “The River Rats” and I guess Steve and I have a few more years to go before we get to swim with that esteemed pack but for now we don’t mind having to wear our water wings and tread water alongside. The first thing that I see when the sun comes up outside my kitchen window is the river. It’s become an integral part of Serendipity Farm life.

One of the small tributaries that flow together to form our river

One of the small tributaries that flow together to form our river

The river always has “just one more” picture left in it…I could photograph the river all day and still come up with more. The tides here are rapid and regular and you could set your watch by them. The river swirls and near the banks it forms little whirlpools that unhappy kayakers spend ages trying to get out of. The river has a sense of humour.

Swans on the river

Swans on the river

When we walk the dogs in the morning we are reminded constantly of just how lucky we are to be living in our neck of the woods. The river has become part of us now and we have developed a deep respect for it’s ebb and flow.

IMG_2637

Early evening river shot

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Rivers…. hmmmm. All I (Sincerely, Emily) can say is that It is drier than dry here in South Texas. While there are some rivers flowing, they are very very low, most have dried up. But, not so long ago (4 years) our front and back yards were a river. When it rains here, Texas-style, it can come down inches at a time. The dry earth cannot soak it up and it runs off very fast. Things can get exciting around here.

River in our backyard (Sept 2009)

River in our backyard (Sept 2009)

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I (Alexandra) love “wild” water– not white water, but rivers and steams in nature. One of my life’s biggest thrills was stepping into the Mississippi. Last week I swam in the Youghigheny (Yak-a-gainy) in southwestern Pennsylvania with my buddies Holly and “Corndog.”

Holly and Skye at the Youghiopyle River

youghiogheny falls

Skye at Brady's Run Dog Park

Are there any rivers in your area?

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Hill Country

I mentioned in our Sunday post that I live in the Texas Hill Country. I am been looking through files of photos, and still can’t seem to come up with any “hill” photos!

I did find a nice photo of a “hill” of mulch.

A pile (I mean hill) of mulch in the background

A pile (I mean hill) of mulch in the background

I also managed to find a photo of the “hill” with wild flowers on it form this past spring. It really is a fake hill since it is man-made on the exit ramp off the highway. But is it pretty.013I don’t seem to have many photos of the landscape around me.  That doesn’t mean my head is constantly down. I continually look around me. I watch the birds and red hawk in the trees and sky. I watch the deer wander by (I am not too happy with the deer right now, but I still enjoy their beauty.)

Do you enjoy the landscape around you?

Sincerely, Emily

You can see what else I am up to over at Sincerely, Emily. The topics are varied, as I jump around from gardening to sewing to making bread or lotion and many things in between.

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I visited Gettysburg last week; something I’ve always wanted to do. The battlefields are somber but oddly unhaunted. The cemetery, on the other hand is the most haunted place I’ve ever been. The Civil War graves are arranged in concentric rings in the the center of smaller graveyards from subsequent wars upon wars upon wars. You can practically see the Union and Confederate soldiers facing them and screaming in despair, that their sacrifice did not end it.

***

The dead in soft sweeps
Name upon name in the green
thousands and thousands

The named dead

All the unknown dead
Are waiting in the green grass
for God to name them

Illinois' unknown

Unknown, unknowing
the nameless lost ones lie in rings.
Who will mourn them now?

The unknown dead

Stone One forty three
Does your name still matter now?
The goddess knows youThe unknown dead-143

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