How to become more Australian.

July 21, 2018

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You can tell that the elections for a Government are getting close. Politicians are ramping up a bit of nationalism by proposing that emigrants acquaint themselves with a ‘true Australian culture’. At the same time are hints about that  Australia is slipping away from its unique Australian culture. Even in far-away England an Australian politician, Alan Tudge is suggesting we are at risk of ‘veering’ away from our special uniqueness. It is useful, especially before elections, to try and get extra votes by suggesting foreigners are the cause for us slipping away from our special Australian uniqueness.

Here is part of what he said;

“Australia will consider adding a “values test” for those considering permanent residency in order to protect its “extraordinarily successful” multicultural society, Malcolm Turnbull said.

The prime minister confirmed what his citizenship and multicultural minister Alan Tudge told the Australia/UK Leadership Forum overnight, where he floated the idea of a “values” test to fend off “segregation”.

Tudge told his London audience “our ship is slightly veering towards a European separatist multicultural model and we want to pull it back to be firmly on the Australian integrated path”.

Whenever someone espouses Australian uniqueness one can rest assured that not a single definition or sample of this special Australian culture will come forth. How can it? Are the people in Italy or Norway without freedom of expression? Are the Dutch forbidden to have a choice in how or where they live. Do the French not have laws protecting them from exploitation by banks or crooks? Are Germans denied sauerkraut?  One thing that stands out separating Australia from the rest of the world, is that in our unique culture, we in Australia only, still don’t have a Bill of Rights.

If we are supposed to be well versed in Australian values and even go so far as insisting that those considering residency here to do some kind of Australian culture ‘test’, how come that our head of state is a British subject? With all that Australian uniqueness we still haven’t got our own Head of State. Why?

It were the American forces who saved Australia from Japanese occupation 1945, not that of Britain. We are guaranteed protection by our Anzus treaty foremost, and would be silly to think English troops coming to our rescue in case of wars.

This ploy to try and ramp up a freaky form of Nationalism using anti-foreign rhetoric is so typical of our state of degradation on the political front. We might get our politicians to do a test instead.

We should all despair and show it at the next election.

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The RSL, Bowling, and the gutters now get vacuumed.

July 13, 2018

IMG_0067the Manchurian tree

Manchurian Pear tree in front of our house (six weeks ago)

I love mid-winter. It gets cold here but the gardens are so quiet. No noises from lawnmowers, whipper-snippers, the edgers, leaf blowers, hedge trimmers, chain-saws. At no stage in world’s history has gardening become so noisy.  It reaches its zenith in mid-summer. I don’t like gardening noises. I get snappy and unfriendly. Milo too hates the noise. His ears hang down and looks frightened. Winters are for recovering from all that machinery. All machinery is hibernating and owners fiddle listlessly around the Television or, at best might tidy up the shed or do some vacuuming.

Together with my dislike for garden noises, I also hate the colour purple. Do I look like someone who likes purple? I just mention this as my Moss-vale Returned Soldiers Leagues/services bowling Club brought in purple bowling shirts. It was decided to give more credence to the sport of bowling by having members wearing shirts identifying the club and bowling. To see a group of elderly prancing about in short sleeved shirts is risqué but in bright purple it becomes circus clownery. I was asked about the purple colour before the choice was made. It was asked with such enthusiasm for the colour, I shrivelled up and acceded with the majority. I am not that brave in opposing. I only joined a year ago!

I am shirted in purple every Wednesday now. That’s when the Moss -vale club gets together. My long skinny arms don’t do anything at the best of times but in a short sleeved purple shirt I look ready for a long stint in a rehabilitation unit behind a high fence. I read on the label they are made in Bangladesh and are made of 100% acrylic. I paid an extra $10 to get a pocket stitched on it. I thought it might draw attention away from the rest of my body. I never though that in retirement and having a choice I would end up wearing purple shimmeringly shiny shirt. It also makes me sweat and smell after just a couple of bowling games.

It is different at the Mittagong Returned Soldier League Club. They wear a  green coloured shirt. It is made of 50% cotton and acrylic. It looks better. I don’t object to wearing it. I don’t understand to have two different coloured shirts. It has nothing to do with Returned Soldiers or the clubs. We are too old for two different uniforms even if it is just a shirt.

During the last AGM of our Townhouse compound, someone brought up that the gutters had not been cleaned. It is the same each year. Some have an obsession about gutter cleaning. Most trees have now been cut and any surviving leaves get annihilated by leaf-blowers. Not many end up in our gutters. And if they do, so what? Councils and many inhabitants of rural towns cut down the native trees years ago, in order to name streets after the trees they cut.

Anyway, the chairperson of our housing compound organised for the gutters to be cleaned. Within a week a huge truck appeared with a large pump. A very large stomached man clambered over the roofs and manipulated a large suction hose along the gutters. It was supposed to vacuum all the gutters clean. Looking around now. Many a truck now have signs advertising their prowess in vacuuming gutters and roofs. The world has come a long way.

And next Wednesday I will be wearing a purple acrylic bowling shirt with a stitched on pocket.

Is eating associated with dumping shopping trolleys?

July 9, 2018
Image result for dumped shopping trolleys

Nowadays people eat while doing things. You see eating going on everywhere. In the library. Crossing the street. While buying food. In church,and Post office. Even Real Estate agents are eating continuously now. Lawyers eat while being presented by briefs. On TV ads you now also see large models being featured. They too eat while lounging in a Norwegian chair. This morning I watched a mother parking two young children in a child-minding place. She had a sandwich clutched between her teeth while undoing their harnesses. People eat while driving.

Cars now have twin-cup holders at front and back. Some cars have refrigerated glove boxes.  They keep TV dinners in there. I heard that special mini micro-waves can be plugged in the car for some quick cooking of pizzas or sides of pork. Eating while working go hand in hand (or more likely in mouth.) Of course eating food involves the buying of it. The most normal combination is eating while shopping. What can be more convenient? The shopping cart is being filled with yet more food.

With my iPhone now used to count steps we went for a walk to town and back. Milo is getting older in tandem with us. We break our walk in town with a small latte. In winter we do rug up. Carrying coats and wearing gloves and scarf we started around 11am. During our latte stop-over we counted 2600 steps. Not bad. We resumed back again with the three of us having had a rest. Helvi decided to walk seriously and sprinted ahead of me. I can’t do that with Milo. He wants to sniff every bit of greenery before the obligatory leg-up. It makes some people smile. Often they will ask permission to pat Milo. He is indifferent to patting. He is spoiled.  I wish I could get those pats. One woman who I asked for a pat said; ‘if you were as good looking as Milo you too would get patted’. A cruel world out there.

It was when Helvi went around the next corner I noticed a fast walking young women pushing a food loaded trolley past me and Milo. It has always irked me to find abandoned shopping trolleys. Was she a shopping trolley dumper? She had all the hallmarks of one. They have an arrogance about them. She did not give Milo a look.  Not a good look!  She stopped at her car and opened the door. Of course, needless to say, she ripped a packet of something and fed some of its contents into her mouth. Milo was busy sniffing a bit of garden belonging to the United Church. I turned my back to this young woman unloading her shopping trolley. I wanted her to be relaxed and not feel being surveyed by an elderly chagrined looking man. I so desperately wanted to know if she had the decency to return the trolley. Would my summation of her being a shopping trolley dumper be correct?

Milo, in the meantime was sniffed out and wanted to know where Helvi had disappeared to. The girl had unloaded the trolley and slammed the car door. What next? I slowly walked by and deliberately dropped a paper hanky on the pavement. This gave me time to observe what she was doing with the trolley. I bend down to pick up the paper hanky while hoping she would be able to recognise the civility and obligation of someone not littering the footpath. I was pleasantly relieved to see she walked with the trolley across the road.  Was I so mistaken? Why do I so often see the bad sides of people? Am I so negative?

The woman crossed the road with the trolley and lifted it in the ‘nature strip’. She walked back to her car and drove off. She was a trolley dumper. I could have smacked her. But she was across the road. I am thinking of getting some wheel-clamps.

I was vindicated after all. The iPhone told us we did well over 6000 steps. That has to be good.

Court orders that boy, 10, at risk of suicide on Nauru be treated in Australia

July 8, 2018

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/mar/21/court-orders-that-boy-10-at-risk-of-suicide-on-nauru-be-treated-in-australia

Refugee girl at risk of suicide to be moved from Nauru to Australia after court action

Exclusive: earlier calls to move 14-year-old were refused but decision reversed as court action began

Amnesty image claiming to show children playing near a fence at the Australian-run detention centre on Nauru.
Amnesty image claiming to show children playing near a fence at the Australian-run detention centre on Nauru. Photograph: Reuters

A 14-year-old refugee girl who had attempted suicide on Nauru.

For the third time a Court had to force the Australian Government to allow children in detention at risk from suicide, to be transferred from their detention on Nauru to get medical treatment in Australia.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jul/07/refugee-girl-at-risk-of-suicide-to-be-moved-from-nauru-to-australia-after-court-action

I never imagined that I would end up living in a country that wilfully and deliberately prevent children under the care of Australian Government and in permanent detention with risk of dying, get access to medical care in Australia.

Let’s not pretend that Australia is not in breach of Human Rights.

Fitness pains.

July 5, 2018
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Most of us might be drawn to TV programs heralding the need for fitness. We are so often being told we excel in being the most obese country in the world. Some advice was given a few weeks ago, when shopping, to only shop amongst the outer aisles  and avoid the inner sanctum of supermarkets. Those inner aisles contain the worst of food aiding our spreading waistlines. That’s were the packets of chips, lollies, endless varieties of  jars of sauces hang out together with miles of soft drinks and utensils in which to cook or boil the fattening sugar loaded foods. Generally, the outer supermarket aisles have the nutritious vegetables and dairy sections to linger about in. This is also the area where more interesting people are to be found. You can tell the nutrition focussed shopper there, lists in hand ticking off the yoghurt (Greek). A serious readings of advice on the different butter-milks, the latest seeds from Bolivia and Peru. Many of us have jute cloth bags, and wear spectacles with a serious demeanour pointed towards those with Coke in their shopping trolleys..

During the last TV show it was about doing exercises. The opinion of experts was to try and do 10.000 steps a day. I can’t imagine us reaching such a level of ennui that we would walk and count each step. One need no fear of that ever happening to us. A friend informed us you can buy a strapped on gadget  that does the counting for you. It does a lot more. The gadget counts calories used, blood pressure, weight, steps up ( ascent but not descent) and lots more. They are called ‘Fitbits’. This is a generic name for different brands of physical tracking devices ranging in cost from $20.- to $600.- or even more. Many sports people use them. On a Saturday morning one can often observe bike riders checking their Fitbits while enjoying a skimmed milk latte. Did you know that those fanatic bike riders don’t wear underwear underneath their lycra skin-stretched bike gear? I don’t mind but please don’t stand too close to my Cappuccino with croissant.

We decided, after watching another fitness program, to rush out to buy our own Fitbits. We, ever so naively thought one could wear them just like a watch. However, after strapping them on and pushing a button nothing happened. Mind you, I did note that on the packaging the words ‘android’ and Blue tooth’ were mentioned. How is it that we keep getting fooled about this modern technology. The counting of those exercise steps is far from being simple.  One needs the gadget to be joined to the web through Blue tooth. I tried and tried. We ended phoning up our friends with Fitbits but nothing worked. I was asked for my Apple I.D and that involved entering my Apple password. You must be kidding me! Blue tooth? Android? What country is that?

Needles to say we rushed back to Bing Lee and fortunately we got our $378.- dollars back. Hoorah! I started delving into the different gadgets of measuring steps and lo and behold, our iPhone has that capacity.  What a discovery. Every late model of  Apple iPhone has a pink coloured app with a heart on it which is a health app. that measures the basic movements of your body. So, till 1pm today I have done 3800. steps and climbed stairs 4 times.

I am feeling fitter already.

About Updates and general Internet dismay.

June 28, 2018

Image result for Fariborz Karami

Fariborz Karami

Nothing is perfect and access to E-mail and Internet is far from guaranteed.  For some weeks I received strange emails urging me to click on lots of links to avoid my posts not being sent, ending up either lost or unavailable for delivery. This all came pared with obvious fake internet lingo including numbers and quasi predictions of chaos, dire consequences. I ignored all and dumped them without clicking on any highlighted links.

However, out of nowhere my e-mail stopped arriving. First it was intermittently but increasing in shorter time frames. I contacted my mail server. This mail server is different from my internet and phone provider. As expected they blamed each other for the disruption but, in any case; ‘the engineers are working on it’, ‘please have some patience’ was their refrain.

I don’t know what the ‘engineers’ are doing to restore my e-mail? Do they put up ladders against those steel towers and screw tight some cables? Have they got an oil-squirter to lubricate squeaking parts of communication equipment? I don’t know, but suspect  they use impressive words to calm down irate customers ready to ditch their accounts and go elsewhere.

This is the real truth; despite all that technology and despite all those ‘updates’, the internet system is far from perfect. The recent spate of ‘outages’ and internet ‘downs’, is proof that the internet is unstable and remains unreliable. For the Government to insist that Centrelink issues such as vehicle registrations, pensions, sickness benefits, unemployment, and a host of other Government services and access is to be dealt with only by opening electronic accounts is ludicrous and far beyond most ordinary people with average internet knowledge and skills.  Especially older people might just give up. Perhaps that is what this government is aiming for. Fewer people by sheer attrition and internet resistance, getting the benefits they are entitled to.

Of course all the above pales into insignificance compared what refugees are coping with. Just read how cruel this Australia is getting.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jun/28/you-hate-us-that-much-mother-of-refugee-who-killed-himself-on-nauru-berates-australia

How low can we go?

June 22, 2018

In America;

In Australia.
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In Nazi Germany.
Image result for jews in nazi germany

Soccer between France and Australia.

June 17, 2018

 

Kalanchoe

Kalanchoe.

There is always a first time. Helvi scanned the TV programme for Saturday evening and as the pickings were a bit slim, surprised me by saying; ‘why don’t we watch the soccer?’ We never watch any sport. When sport comes on the TV, we slink away to clear the table or use the time to put the dishes in the sink, feed Milo, only to return when the weather forecast comes on. We are not against sport. There is just too much of it. At my social bowling-club I am often embarrassed when I am asked what I thought of the latest rugby or AFL match. I don’t understand the game or the scoring and so often read players being up for drug charges, glassing girlfriends, sexual misconduct, drunkenness etc. I always though that playing with an oblong ball must result in a warped personality and deviousness

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You can imagine my surprise when Helvi suggested to watch the world soccer match beamed live on the TV. I always felt that if sport was anywhere on her radar, it would be soccer. I agreed that to settle down to watch Australia play soccer against France it would be a first in our long term marriage or relationship. People are in relationships rather than marriages. Does it have a tinge of sophistication now?

The weather outside was atrocious. The wind was howling and the forecast was for snow down to 700 metres. We are at 500 metres above the sea on the cusp of snow or at least a bucketing of sleet. Helvi had already packed up the Kalanchoes who don’t like cold. The cyclamen were jubilant in eager anticipation of a nice cyclonic frost. The violets are more indifferent and like extremes of weather, cold or heat. Those brave little souls.

The TV was put on the right soccer channel, the shiraz uncorked. I threw all caution to the wind. The cheese, olives and other delicacies on the coffee table. I turned the thermostat to 25C.  I thought it so typical and lovely for Helvi so often to make the best of things, and in such a surprising and creative way. The thing with soccer is that the ball is round and generally goes towards its intended destination. The ball is also used to kick it instead of being (Illegally) carried around under the arm as in rugby. No-one in soccer will ever grapple with each other either. In a rugby scrum one could be forgiven in thinking that maybe it isn’t only the ball they are trying to grapple with. Who knows what goes on between all those legs, arms and bums?

We enjoyed the soccer immensely and so badly wanted Australia to win. As it turned out there were some dodgy calls and hints of video evidence being ignored favouring France. They finished up winning 2-1. Australia played very well, and even though they lost on a faulty technicality, can walk proud into the future.

Helvi and I had a great evening. Who could have thought that so late in life we watched soccer game?

It is never too late!

Seeing the movies in Bowral.

June 11, 2018
Image result for literary potato peel society

 

We are not sure where this came from. Out of nowhere we decided to watch movies at our local cinema. It used the be one large cinema. The invention of TV resulted in many single cinemas in closing down. That was a great pity. I remember seeing a movie was almost as good as a long week-end. In those early times it was an outing. Often two movies would be shown. There were intervals whereby we could go outside and replenish our intake of popcorn or Smarties, even an ice-cream. Some cinemas had a Hammond Organ rising majestically from below the screen. A white-suited Liberace type man would play it.

At one particular film the audience were forced to be separated into the two sexes. Even weeks, men, and uneven weeks, women. Or was it uneven and even days? It was supposed to be an informative movie on love, sex and pro-creation. There were long queues.  Many men and maybe women, of course thought there would be a fair bit of eroticism if not a fair sprinkling of nudity. There might not have been much nudity in love but surely with sex there would have to be nudity, including female nudity, which was my speciality and object of desire. The decision to show this movie divided by the sexes came from the Government which gave it enough spice for me to see it with some urgency. I was very young but above 16 years old which was the cut-off point. I had till then not experienced much nudity except that shown by skinny models wearing stiff-solid brassieres,  boned-undergarments and nylon stockings in my mother’s Dutch women magazines, sent over to Australia by her sister…

This sex film was a shocker. It started with the obligatory Hammond organ thumping out the God Save The Queen on stage, after which a man warned the male audience to remain seated, calm, and in control. One could hear a pin drop. The movie started and soon progressed to the informative part of sexual congress. There were black and white ovum,  black and white swimming sperms and mothers pushing black prams, but no nudity or genitalia except in such a medical manner that it killed all eroticism. Within twenty minutes some of the male audience started to walk out. I gave it another twenty minutes in the hope of at least seeing a glimpse of something. I would have been happy with some female pubic hair. But no, not a breast, lonely nipple or any hair, just drawings of medical stuff and quivering sperm. All in a morbid black. It was a most boring movie and a sad trip home to my parents.

During the seventies and eighties the Bowral cinema was made into 4 smaller theatres and they are all thriving. The movies we saw were in the order of; Guernsey literary and potato peel pie society.

  1. https://variety.com/2018/film/reviews/the-guernsey-literary-and-potato-peel-pie-society-review-1202753994/

A very well made film, excellent acting, if somewhat sentimental towards the end but still a very good, worthwhile movie. We liked it.

2. https://variety.com/2018/film/reviews/the-bookshop-review-1202701795/

‘The Bookshop’. A masterpiece of filmmaking. A story about a culturally backwards conservative English village resisting the coming of a bookshop. We thought it the best of the three movies.

3. https://www.adelaidereview.com.au/arts/cinema/film-review-tea-with-the-dames/

Another brilliant movie, very funny if you can follow the dialogue which with my impaired hearing had difficulty with. None the less for us a very entertaining film. How could it not be with those gifted actors?

 

 

Can the pumpkin save the world?

June 7, 2018

IMG_0075Salvia.JPG

Salvia

 

The world is holding its breath. Soon, Kim Jong Un and  Donald Trump will meet and hopefully come to an agreement on their weaponry. I wonder who is more of a dictator now? With Trump seemingly able to pardon himself for any wrongdoing, I reckon they are both neck on neck with claiming the winner of the race to an ultimate dictatorship.

Helvi and I often end up discussing politics. She is getting more and more despondent about the situation in Australia. ‘So little is decided and so little is being done’ , she said last night. ‘There is so much of nothingness in Australia now.’ We are still living of the success of SSM but for how long will that continue to nurture us? The same old stuff seems to get regurgitated over and over. I was a young and ambitious man when the second Sydney  airport was discussed. Has anyone heard anything about that lately? The same with education. All sorts of rapports and tests but nothing improves. The only time we read about it, it talks about a student getting a haircut or how the school bullying has resulted in misery and suicide. Anything about the fast trains or how the hydro electricity in the Snowy mountains is progressing?  Plastic shopping bags and non deposit glass was dealt with and banned in Holland in the seventies.

The only positive that has happened is that pumpkins are now for sale at 99c a kilo. We do not need to just live of the glory of SSM!  We rushed out and stocked up for the rest of the winter. Nothing can be more positive than a nice pumpkin and what can be made of it. A warning though!. There are hidden dangers. Pumpkins, sharp knives and over- enthusiastic cooks have often come to grief.

We snapped up four pumpkins for starters, with a large bag of potatoes, leeks, onions and garlic, lots of garlic. We noticed many doing the same. It seems that the message of good diets might be getting through. Some shoppers still try to sneak in a carton of Coke or lemonade but you can tell by their furtive eye movements that they are battling with their conscience. I used to give them stern looks but in my dotage have mellowed, and now manage a generous smile of understanding. I too used to sip a Coke!

Going back to my pumpkins. A good friend said that she never peels the pumpkin. It is even possible to bake an entire pumpkin without even cutting it in half. This is the wonder of having friends that share cooking and politics. I never knew one could bake an entire pumpkin. There I was sharpening my chopper and large knife including, a filleting knife (from Finland) trying to cut my pumpkin in sizeable portions to be baked in the oven. I never just boil pumpkin without first baking it together with the leeks, garlic and onions drizzled with a nice olive oil. There used to be a bar near central Sydney railway where you could actually sit on a stool and sample different oils and vinegars.

That’s what I miss here in Bowral. It is all so Anglo and nice! We have a lot of different salvias growing. The gardeners were here today, and I just said (in jest) in the presence of a neighbour peering at our salvias. ‘You know, this salvia is very good for rolling and smoking! In some US states it is forbidden to grow it because it can give you the smile of an angel and mildly hallucinates.’ The neighbour looked wry. Helvi kicked me in the shin.

Anyway, from now on I will not peel pumpkin. It will just be part of the soup. I add a little chilli with a good spoonful of turmeric. After baking it for 30 minutes I whisk the lot to a fine harmonious and mellow yellow soup. It is truly a magic dish.

My suggestion is to Singapore and the meeting between those giants of atomic might, to be given the best chance of peace resolution and give them this pumpkin soup lavishly, with dollops of sour cream and crusty sour-dough bread .

A food worthy of peace.