Archive for the ‘Gerard Oosterman’ Category

How did it get to 50 ?

October 30, 2014


A good friend left a message on our answering service yesterday congratulating us on 50 years of marriage. How did this come about? It only seems like yesterday.

We had totally forgotten. We have never stood still reflecting much on wedding anniversaries. We do of course remember each others birthdays. Christmases too come and go. The important thing is to get up each day and celebrate that marvellous event more than the one yearly or one in fifty years event.

Here is how!

“How did you sleep?” “Very good, how about you?” “Oh, very good, just went for ( a piss) to toilet just once, I think it was at 4.30, or no, it might have been a bit earlier, perhaps 3.30.” “I slept very deeply again afterwards, ‘like an angel’.”You don’t look like an angel, get a haircut today, you look wild, more like a Hottentot.” ” Yes, but then I have to wash my hair, take a shower too.” “So what?” “Have you got a problem, taking a shower?” “No, not that, but it is still too early.” “You are not too early with being banal.” “Yes, I know, feel free! It is not too late. Many would find you very attractive, and you’ve got lovely eyes.” “Get #u&&et.”

“How’s the coffee dear?” “Strong enough?” “Yes, it is a nice one today.” “It’s Lavazza, ground. We are on the last kilo.” “OK, next when it is on special we get two kilo’s again.” “Yes, at Farmers Market.” “I had a stomach cramp during the night.” “I might have eaten too much of the hummus.” “Yes, I noticed you were hoeing into it last night with the crackers too. Were you hungry?” “You’re a very healthy girl, you eat more than me!” “Not as healthy as you will be, emptying the red again.” “Well, you know after the drive from Sydney, one needs a bit of a relaxation.” “You say that every night”. “Yes, I know, but we don’t take any medication, you’ve got to have something”! We don’t smoke, don’t take any medication, live frugally, still have most of our teeth. So what if we drink a bit?” “True, dear, especially if it is a good one”.

“I might go upstairs and check the blogs. Have you looked yet?” “No, I haven’t. I am still tired.” “Oh, there you go again, meckering as usual. Cheer up.” “I am cheery, have you looked at the lilies, another one has opened up, there are now three open”. “Yes, I noticed, make another coffee and take it upstairs”. “Alright dear, I will.”

And that is the answer to how fifty years have passed.( and all too quickly)

Those Frugal Dutch Robotics have their use.

October 29, 2014

Look at this video of a machine in Holland that reads the value of containers and then gives you a credit to use inside the supermarket. They have been in use for at least twenty years.

If you wanted to learn about becoming even more frugal, don’t go past The Netherlands which is very easy to do. It is such a small country. A blink and you have passed it. Mind you, small in size, large elsewhere. I know that fitting twenty people in a VW car involves chucking a sixpence in front of Scottish caber throwers. I believe the same would be achieved in Holland. Perhaps 24 Dutchmen would pile in seeing they are much slimmer.

The frugality has flown into all areas of Dutch life, including the disposal of goods at the end of their used lives.

This from Wikipedia:
Facts and figures[edit]

Landfills are used for less than 10% of all waste. Dutch household waste recycling averages to 60% (2006).[citation needed]
Compost (2003):
The separately gathered organic fraction is 50% of household waste, or 1500 kilotonnes. This is processed to 600 kilotonnes of compost, and the end-product partially exported while over annual national consumption.
Paper (2005):
In the Netherlands itself, the recycled amount in 2005 was up to 2.5 million tonnes, which is 75% of annual consumption. By contrast, in the EU, over 50% of paper is recycled.
The Dutch have a lot of experience in recycling, stimulated by lack of free grounds and significant government funding. This expertise is sensibly exported. A 2006 article reports Dutch involvement in reform of recycling in the UK.[1]

Have a read of this.

Elements of the Netherlands National Waste Policy

The Netherlands’ current waste management policy largely focuses on tackling problems at their onset by preventing the production of waste. When waste production cannot be avoided, waste materials are recycled, and non-recyclable waste is disposed via environmentally acceptable means. The main elements of the policy are:

The Netherlands has the highest percentage of household waste recycling in Europe and the lowest level of land filling.
◦Waste Disposal Hierarchy, (aka Landlink’s Ladder)
◦Waste Treatment Standards
◦National Waste Disposal Planning
◦Producer Responsibility
◦Prevention and Recycling Regulations

Waste Disposal Hierarchy

The main ideas in the Netherlands’ waste policies are represented in a hierarchy model, commonly referred to by the Dutch as Landlink’s Ladder. Named after a member of Dutch parliament who designed it, Landlink’s Ladder applies levels of importance to five core waste management components:
◦Product Reuse
◦Waste Recovery


The model serves as a guide for waste management techniques and places prevention at the top of the hierarchy, as most the desirable means. The idea behind prevention is simple: Avoid waste production as much as possible. The second and third components on the hierarchy are product reuse and recovery. These components include packaging and material reuse and the use of waste as fuel.

Fourth on the hierarchy is incineration. All Dutch waste incineration plants produce energy for electricity generation, heating or industrial steam generation. Last, and most avoided on the hierarchy, is the landfill. Waste in the Netherlands is only sent to the landfill after all other options on Landlink’s Ladder have been exhausted.
Because of prevention-of-waste programs, the volume of waste has been growing more slowly than the Netherlands’ Gross Domestic Product since 1995. The main sources of sustainable energy for domestic consumption – which account for 75% of the total amount – are the co-combustion of biomass in power stations, wind energy and energy from waste incineration plants. The Netherlands’ main sources of sustainable energy for domestic consumption – which account for 75 percent of the total amount – are the co-combustion of biomass in power stations, wind energy and energy from waste incineration plants.

Stringent Waste Treatment Standards

The Netherlands practices stringent standards for waste disposal, and landfills are regulated by checking soil and groundwater for pollution. Incinerators are regulated for air emissions, plant construction and the incineration process itself.


Bans on 35 waste-streams from landfills help keep contamination levels low. Any waste-streams that can be recovered or incinerated, such as household waste, organic waste, plastic waste and demolition waste, are not allowed in landfills.

Certain environmental standards are also set to guarantee quality of secondary raw materials made from waste used for building materials, fuel and fertilizer.

Frugality has left our shores.

October 27, 2014


My mum was so frugal it has left its inedible mark on me forever. Ask my wife of fifty years (next October, or perhaps was it November)? One of the most memorable frugal scenes I still vividly remember is mum scraping the butter paper. The butter would be unwrapped and put into the Delft-blue ceramic butter container. The real work started afterwards. She would carefully straighten the butter paper on the work bench and start scraping. Her whole body would move in unison with the knife taken to the paper. I often wondered about the passion so obvious, so dedicated. Who or what was she thinking? Not my father, surely not? They too lived a long and good life. Still, one never knows all those intimate hidden marital little secrets, harbouring phantasies of frustration and guilty revenges.

Anyway, I admire anyone who saves, scrapes and scrimps. I am afraid this art is dying out now. My children still sometimes show remnants of frugality but butter scraping is not one of them. They now leave lights on in rooms they don’t occupy, have a TV on while not watching. Jeez, this TV on without watching really drives me close to manslaughter. Fortunately, my partner (it sounds so much more sophisticated ‘partner,’ not wife) are in total agreement on that one, as on having a radio on just to hear noise. If you see a manic man hurling rocks over a fence from which loud music blares out, don’t call the police, encourage and give him larger rocks.

With Father Christmas lurking around on Shopping Malls car-parks already, we will soon again experience the dreadful running of the shoppers. Faces twisted and contorted in an unimaginable ugly spending spree. Trolleys laden with turkeys and pig’s trotters ramming into heels of elderly gents outside seeking reprieve from wives who are scanning the latest in dairy products isles. Mile after mile of cheeses so large, security guards with guns keep watch. Billions will be wasted and thrown out within days. Large bins laden with sour hams and slippery lobsters green with decay and odoriferous for miles around our sobbing suburbs, are waiting lifeless and forlorn for a final journey to council’s tip to be recycled into next years trinkets and symphony toilet paper.

My dear mum never ever threw out food. “During the war, we did not have food, so…”,and then she shrugged her shoulders, implying it would be criminal. She, as last resort would feed the ducks any scraps that, even according to her most stringent butter scraping standards were beyond consumption. Another day out and the scraps were almost ready to assume a life of their own.

The ducks somehow knew she was coming and darted out from the rushes to greet her. I think the throwing of chicken remnants was a bit insensitive though. I don’t know what the ducks would make out of that? Their own feathered friends now to be eaten? I never pointed it out to mum, that perhaps the chicken remnants were best given to the neighbours’ cats. But then again, ducks don’t know nor understand the background or philosophy of the butter paper scraping. I remember seeing a duck once who, during a very severe frost, had its legs frozen into the sheet of ice. The duck had to wait fro the ice to melt before able to fly or swim away. It was a relief to see the duck gone after a couple of days of thaw.

Even ducks go through difficult periods.

Living in a Hell called Nauru.

October 26, 2014

untitled Nauru Detention Camp

Open letter: Living in the hell called Nauru.
Identity withheld

I am writing as a mother in Nauru house of detention. After 10 months of being detained on Christmas Island, my three-member family was brought here: myself and my husband and my son who is not yet three. As I knew we were going to be forcefully taken to Nauru, I felt sadness and spent all the night crying in misery. Any time I looked into face of my son, I asked myself, what is his sin to be punished harshly like this? What wrong we have done to receive such treatment? Just as I heard an officer saying that we were going to be transferred to Nauru, I suddenly felt all the miseries in the world. I kept crying all the time we were leaving.

We were put in isolation on Christmas Island. They checked us for nearly 10 hours with no break – they kept searching our bags and threw half of our items away. We were not allowed to wear shoes. They did not let us to tie our hair. They checked behind ears, inside nose, beneath tongue and hair. Big bully officers. My little son was scared and kept crying.

Do you know what the meaning of hopeless and helpless is? Do you know what is the meaning of I got tired of being alive?

After 10 hours of inspection, we were put into a bus accompanied by a large number of officers and then onto an airplane. The journey took eight hours. My son neither ate nor slept for 24 hours. You may not believe that my son really didn’t sleep for 24 hours, but he felt such anxiety.

For the complete article, press the link.

It’s a Miracle.

October 25, 2014

heart7 The beach

I once lost my glasses when knocked down by a large wave close to the beach on Indonesia’s island of Lombok. Lombok is a large volcano and the beaches bank down steeply into the ocean. Within a few metres of the beach you cannot stand up in the water anymore. I assumed my spectacles would gently roll down to the depth of the sea with the occasional calamari perhaps peering through them, wondering what sort of two eyed glassy creature is beckoning.

Next morning my wife and I went for a walk along this beach and I found my glasses washed up on the sand.
The sea had returned my glasses. It was a miracle and for true believers, performed by Allah.

Let me explain. We had been to Bali before and on one of those trips decided to go to the island next door called Lombok. We thought of going by ferry but they were booked out. A good friend told us that Lombok is what Bali had been. I suppose he was referring to tourism having spoiled a rather peaceful island into a place swamped by loud, beer swilling and hairy armpit scratching bogons. Together with encrusted bikini clad dreadlock knitted girlfriends looking for ‘ a good time’! The murder rate was steadily climbing up, as were muggings and stolen passports. However, despite all that, even today, Bali’s culture of the pre-dominantly Hindu faith is still largely intact. The Island is renowned for its highly developed arts, including traditional and modern dance, sculpture, painting, leather, metalworking, and music. Perhaps art overcomes all?

After arriving at Lombok we noticed a difference. Next day at about 4am I woke up. It was H, who poked me in the ribs; ” what the fuck is this”? she said gently. It happened to be the very loud and amplified call to all Moslems to come and pray. It woke H up. I am profoundly deaf, so, there are benefits. ;) Anyone who has ever been to an Islamic country would know. We did not. The Mosques and Imams use the spires of minarets to call the devout for prayer. Lombok is mainly Islamic even though next door to Hindu Bali.

Prayer, or Salah, is one of the five essential pillars of Islam. Taking time out to pray, five times a day, helps Muslims remember Allah and their purpose in life – to worship Him. When they turn towards Mecca, they are united with all the Muslims around the world who face the same direction, and when they raise their hands to begin Salah, they put aside the stresses and worries of life to remember their Lord.

I have often thought about the event of finding my glasses on the beach. Against all odds. Was it a miracle? Was the combined praying at all helpful in bringing my glasses back onto the beach, uphill, against a steep incline and against the law of gravity?

Here some wise Islamic saying that seems to unite all, even those from different faiths.

Make the most of your life before your death.”

Make the most of “your health before your sickness.”

Make the most of “your time before you become busy.”

Make Among the most of “your wealth before you become poor.”

Make Among the most of “your youth before you become old.”

 Near Ubud, Bali

Near Ubud, Bali

New Arrivals Down Under

October 23, 2014

gerard oosterman:

Here is an impressive article of a family’s arrival in Australia in 1959.
It wasn’t easy.


Originally posted on Berlioz1935's Blog:

Everything comes to an end one day. But, at the same time, it is  the beginning of something new.

Paul and Ursula were standing at the railing of the ship that had been their home for five glorious weeks. They felt they were treated like royalty. It was a journey of a lifetime that transported them from the cold war  Europe of the fifties to a new life on an ancient  continent.

They had their girls on their arms and observed the activities on shore. Men in blue singlets were hosting the gangway into place so a new wave of migrants could get on land.

Only in the morning had a doctor decided that they could disembark because Ursula suffered  a large abscess on her knee which made walking near impossible only the day before. This would have meant they would have continued their  cruise to Sydney. But over night the knee became…

View original 890 more words

My 1996 RMW boots.

October 20, 2014


These boots were made for walking. They were bought at the same time we bought ‘Rivendell’ back in 1996. Rivendell was a property of over 110 acres. It held a large house and an old convict built slab timber hut. It was the slab timber hut that made us get the property. You could feel the history of it. Hard labour, no running water and no electricity. A family with 9 kids lived in it till the seventies when it was bought by a couple of artists who then also build the house and the farm infrastructure with holding pens, horse stables, a diary ( dairy ;) ) and lots of dams. The property had a 2km frontage to a river. This river used to roar after rain but became a trickle during droughts. We were told that a grave on our property held the remains of a baby that had drowned in the river during the 1920s while her mother was doing her washing. Each spring a few snow-bells used to pop up above this grave which was surrounded by an old rickety picket fence.

That’s how farming is in Australia, a fairly ruthless game not for the faint hearted or the get rich quick merchants. Wild dogs including dingoes used to go for the kill during lambing times and our neighbours used to put out baits to keep on top of those killers. It also got our Border Collie ‘Bella’, who during a walk along the fence line must have taken a baited chook head. She had enough time to bolt home, crawl underneath the veranda floor and died within minutes.


We never set out to do any farming. It was a semi-retirement move but with it came the restoration of the old hut into a holiday letting with a handy income. Of course, no move into the country could be undertaken without also getting sturdy boots and Drizabone coats.

Our Farm "Rivendell"

Our Farm “Rivendell”

We still have the drizabone coats and wear them during cold and windy weather. They are a cotton soaked in boiled linseed oil fashion item and an obligatory features in many films including The Man from the Snowy river. My RMW shoes are now over 18 years old. They are still wearable but only just. I wear them knowing they came before our three grandkids were born, before the 9/11, the Iraq war or other catastrophes I might have overlooked. The RMW boots cost a fortune but they do last!

Here they are.

photoRMW Boots (1996)

Brkon’s salvation by his Nana in the Cow shed.

October 16, 2014

Ukrainian house

On the banks of the brooding Danube, Brkon was holding the condom wrapped message pondering over its meaning. What was its significance? In his alcohol addled brain he fought desperately for an understanding and the possible profoundness of its message. The streets, back alleys and loose women with reckless imbibing the plum slivovitz had taken their toll. He was overwhelmed by sadness and re-read the message ‘breed Leghorns’ over and over again. Bratislava’s morning lights were still twinkling in the distance. The distant roar of the casino’s ribaldry now dying out.

His only connection to Leghorns chickens was his beloved Nana who had some of those in her backyard on the outskirts of town. As our readers might remember, she also supplemented her meagre income from distilling slivovitz at the back of the cow-shed. In winter the shed held four cows which made her get up each morning at 4 am to milk. The milk she sold to the co-op which in return gave her butter, cheese and whey. It was a hard but simple life. Her husband had died many years ago after having wandered inebriated into the frozen forest. Even so, she missed him. He was good at splitting firewood for winter. He was found in spring, an empty bottle of slivovitz in his gnarled hand defiantly sticking up through the thawing snow like a signpost asking a forgotten God for some redemption.

Brkon’s thoughts dwelled on the good times he enjoyed as a child with his Nana. He especially remembered the brightly orange yoked Leghorn eggs she fed him as a child. He was still innocent and as pure as her lovely whey and curds. How did the innocence travel to the debauched without him knowing? Tears were now streaming down Brkon’s face. She held a special place in his heart.

He stirred himself into clambering up the Danube’s embankment and decided to visit her. The sun had broken through a difficult dawn but was now bathing the willows in gold and yellow. He made his way to her humble wooden cottage and noticed she had plugged the weathered logs with moss and a neat well stacked supply of fire-wood near the brightly red painted door. His spirit lifted already. She was overjoyed to see him, put on the coffee as she had done each time on his infrequent visits.

He confided to his Nana all that troubled him and she understood. “You are welcome here,” she said. “You can milk the cows, split the firewood and help stoke my ripe plums and watch the dripping results into bottles, cork them and make sure the money comes in.” “Deal with those customers owing me.” His Nana was no fool. You can sleep with cows and there is a comfy stead with straw mattress, you’ll be warm.” “You have slept there before, remember?” Also remember, “one sip and you are out.”

And that’s how Brkon became again, regained the sweetness of life. The Leghorns keeping him and the cows company. Even though he was within earshot of the bubbling tempting liquid. Never a drop again. He often wondered about his Nana making a bit of an earner from a liquid so beloved but also so bedevilled to many. He knew the answer! He withstood the agony of temptation year in and year out. He buried his beloved Nana behind the cow-shed when old age finally won out. She was a month over ninety four.

The leghorns kept on pecking.

Brkon too lived a life.

Brkon turned a new Feather/Leaf

October 12, 2014
etching by G O

etching by G O

Brkon’s Recovery from Vice with a Proposal for an opportunity in Bratislava during my teen-age years. As dug up from the bowels of the internet.

As most of you might still remember Brkon, I thought it might be time to let you know how I fared. Suffice to say that things are looking up! The plight of Bratislava’s male youth is a common story of many having survived years surrounded by so many mouth-wateringly beautiful Slovakian women. Many fall for their beauty and as the years go by love takes its toll and many are left to their deeply ingrained vices, end up wandering the streets, impoverished and looking unshaven. You might see them hanging around the Bratislavan market places, scrounging for alms with a nostalgic wish to return those earlier times steeped in love and seductions. They so desperately remain in search of ‘happy’, but as the years relentlessly marches they pay a heavy price. They are now the outcasts, the societal flotsam washed up like the so may sullied and used condoms along the banks of the Danube River, carelessly thrown overboard by the Rhine- Danube River crowds drunk with cruising for love. The lot for so many tortured tourist’s souls.

This is what happened to this Brkon. They say the first step to recovery is to admit one’s compulsive habits. If you still remember my adventures with the lovely Svetlana so many years ago including my first youthfully bursting experiences on the silken smooth valley of the svelte Lilianes, you might also recall how my dear old Nana had a nice little earner going with her sly-grog slivovitz operation inside the cow-shed. The combination of so much of my Nana’s duty-free slivovitz and so many warm thighs made me a debauched and lost soul sadly wandering the Danube’s river bank. In vain I searched for the anchor that would hold me steady. I knew there had to be something more to life than sex and booze. It does. Listen carefully.

Late one night, I was again listlessly wandering along the Danube River’s bank. The distant sparkling lights of Bratislava once again beckoning me. I knew that surrender to yet another night of loneliness and despair had become such hopeless course. It was an endless routine, falling again for a whore’s bloated blue veined listless limbs aided by Nana’s slivovitz. I had reached rock bottom.

I kicked a bottle shimmering in the light of the Danube’s ghoulish moon. I noticed something inside it. I pulled the cork off and shook the contents into my hand. It was indeed a message that for extra protection was wrapped inside a condom. The silver foil had “drsny jazdec kondom” printed on it. I knew enough English that it was a popular condom sometimes colloquially known as ‘rough riders’. The message had just two words, “breed Leghorns”. How odd. Little did I know it would set into action a most fortuitous chain of events that would lead me once again back on the virtuous path of wholesome decency and survival.

Keep eyes peeled.

Golden Syrup and Robertson Pies.

October 12, 2014
Milo training

Milo training

At my age being able to open the lid on the golden syrup assures me of a fine week-end ahead. It doesn’t take much! Is it my age and diminishing physical strength or are manufacturers heeding the warnings on lurking terrorists by ramping up security in tightening access to foods? It isn’t just lids. Try opening vacuum packed salmon or an eye fillet. It all looks so near and yet so far. I sometimes just give up and put the item back in the fridge for another day and just peel the Kipfler potato or boil a simple non challenging egg. We now just buy free range eggs and just hope the chickens realise our previous close bond with them and our sacrifice.

It reminds me of many years ago when I had a pet Leghorn rooster. He too used to come next to me in the car but in his own wicker basket. You could never put a seat belt on a rooster. It was at a time I worked in an office and the Leghorn used to like being with me. One day someone stole him when I was having smoko. I put reward pamphlets with his photograph on telegraph poles around Ultimo for his return. A week later, I heard a familiar cockle doo di doo. He was outside my office door in a box of shredded office documents. I tried in vain to read bits of the shreds in order to find out who had committed this cruel and dastardly act. I never found out.

A propos Milo’s mad bike and riders barking/biting disciplinary action. We did make it to the Robertson pie shop with H on one side of the front seat and Milo on the console in the middle. He loves a nice drive. We sometimes seat-belt him in but the harness is so complicated it slipped beyond my skills this morning. I also wanted to relish my golden syrup triumph for a bit longer. We were very hopeful of a good bike rider biting session when, after our arrival, we spotted a number of bikes outside the shop. Most of them Harleys with huge shiny exhausts. Milo pricked his ears in keen anticipation.

We did not have to wait long when a couple approached their bike. He looked as if he was approachable for a good bite. Just having eaten his pie I don’t think I was too far from this assumption. I gave him a well practised synopsis of our problem with Milo. I showed him the plastic drink bottle with drilled holes in the dark blue cap. ( remember how the ‘squeeze the water in his face’ was shown on U-tube)? He listened attentively, but when I proposed he start his bike to let Milo have his way and possibly bite him, he was not enthusiastic. However, his girl-friend seemed very taken by it. She smiled broadly. She no doubt thought a bit of fun would do no harm. She got into the spirit of things straight away. A good and feisty woman.

Perhaps sitting behind the motor- bike as a pillion rider was not her idea of much fun on a Saturday morning. Roaring up and down steep mountainous escarpments might be more the domain of men. Women like adventures of the spirit and mind. Hence, perhaps the idea of a boyfriend getting bitten was at least a safer and more creative option. A change from the normal routine. Mind you, I am speculating here. The pro and cons of things linked to the sexes can get one in a lot of strive lately. It is a precarious balance I do not want to divert from.

I could tell that he thought his masculinity was on the line. You can’t ride a Harley and not succumb to dogs chasing you and here was a chance to go one further, and get bitten. An old ditty must have come to mind; Be a man and not a fool, pull the chain and not your tool. His girl-friend was very pro the trial. He checked his bike leggings and even put on his helmet. Milo was keenly watching, wagging his tail. His Waterloo had arrived. The bike was started up and Milo flew into action. Helvi was ready with her squeeze bottle. All stations on the alert.

… And Milo? Milo attacked the back tyre. That was his aim. He would go for the legs of the bike not the legs of the rider. In doggy world it makes good sense. The motor-bike is the dog. If someone walks a dog and comes across a cranky dog. The dogs fight each other. The owner doesn’t get bitten. Helvi gave Milo the water torture and he did stop. So… We thanked the brave man and his girlfriend who could not stop laughing. They turned into the road to Kiama down the steep escarpment.

We hold high hopes for Milo being cured…


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