Australia sharing US bathtub of pyrotechnical toys.

September 19, 2021

IMG_2472 three wise ducks
  •  

Back in in 1956 we thought we were escaping the aftermath of wars and conflict and bade farewell to Europe still smoldering and smarting from two world wars. Soon after arriving we did sense that the main influence in Australia was that of America. It’s sprawling architecture and above all the commercialization of almost everything possible and saleable. My dad could not get over the abundance of ugly signage portrayed on almost everything capable of supporting signs. Suburban shops lining the strips often next to railway lines or main roads were groaning with signs and everything was sign-written in the most garish colors as ‘special’. At one stage a locally produced car The Holden was named Special.

After a while we got used to it together with the endless advertisements hailing the benefits of all sorts of headache powders. Indeed looking at old photographs one has no trouble seeing buses and trains advertising Bex powders and Vincent APC. which in those days had phenacetin to give it an extra bite but also damaging the kidneys of tens of thousands of people, especially women who became addicted. They were advertised as giving one a lift in wellbeing. We wondered why headaches were so common and accepted as normal. It was supposed to be all happy and sundrenched.

We got on with turning into Australians as good as any but of course also retained proudly our own heritage excluding the horrors of conflict and bombs.  However through the decades it became clear that Australia seemed to be drawn to the American way of things to a point that no matter what conflict or wars the US engaged in, Australia was keen to nurture those wars by slavishly sending in their troops as well. True we are part of alliances although also often claiming sovereignty. We followed the US to war in Vietnam,  Iraq, Afghanistan. All now looked back upon as totally wasteful and unnecessary.

But, still we keep on repeating he same with now ordering nuclear underwater boats.  Bowing to the US again and what for? We could be the Switzerland of the Pacific , remain friendly with everyone. Be a go-between if tensions arise between different countries. The aim in ordering those boats is to threaten China. Why do that? Businesses are queueing up to enter China and do business. Hundreds of thousands of Europeans and Americans are now living in China, not wishing to miss out on the excitement that is unfolding in China. We are totally out of whack with the reality of the unfolding of history.

It is China’s turn. Nothing will stop that.

IMG_2474 Spring

A strong woman Prime Minister

September 13, 2021

This was published 8 years ago and seen 4.333.661 times Febr 7 / 2020

Transcript of Julia Gillard’s speech

Julia Gillard made an impassioned speech against Tony Abbott's motion to remove Peter Slipper as Speaker.
Julia Gillard made an impassioned speech against Tony Abbott’s motion to remove Peter Slipper as Speaker.

A mask wearing man punch-up and Tulip time

September 12, 2021

We know that tempers get frayed when the Covid restriction are pushing people to the limit. We all have our breaking points. Each morning I get woken up by my new friend, Bentley. He taps the matrass till I open my eyes after which he prances about clearly signaling he won’t stop till I get out of bed. Almost stern nurse-like; ‘time to get up and do your bathroom routines Mr Oosterman’! After dressing he continues his fanatic pushing which culminates in a swirling dervish type performance only relieved when I fasten the lead and go for our walk.

IMG_2298 bentley

Bentley on guard.

This morning like most mornings I walk past a busy Bread shop, the Chelsea Baker proudly displayed on a hanging sign dangling from the overhead awning. I usually take a rest on a wooden bench on the side of the footpath and combine it with texting a message to my girlfriend in Sydney as well as giving Bentley a rest at the same time. Out of the blue I heard someone saying ‘mask’ and noticed a man putting on a mask before entering the shop’. Apparently, this upset another man entering and out of nothing he pinned another customer against the wall with his arm against the mask wearing man’s neck. ‘ How dare you’, he shouted. The threat of violence was real. However, that was about all that happened. The attacker left and I surmise he had some experience in manhandling the man by pinning him against the wall and having his arm across his throat, all within a split second. It looked like something out of a Coen Brothers movie.

The easy going tolerant Aussi is becoming frayed and it doesn’t take much for tempers to boil over. I also suppose that the handling of all this Covid restrictions has been a bit too strict and dogmatic, no leeway at all and the involvement of soldiers in army uniforms was brutally insensitive. Why not have the army helping out but in normal civilian clothes? What do you think ethnic groups having escaped from brutal oppressive regimes, would think being approached by uniformed soldiers? And the Government actually encouraging people to dob each other in. Geez, that did not sit well with me.

Anyway, tulips as always make all the difference and my Dutch ethnicity plays no minor role in the yearly display of tens of thousands of tulips all over the Highlands but especially in Bowral.

In the Bowral tulip park also lives a really gigantic Himalayan Cedar tree. I took a photo which doesn’t give it much credit, but it will have to do. I am very pleased with my iPhone doubling as camera. It can even take videos. The latest series of electronic gadgets leave me dumbfounded. There are now Iphones that have two screens and which can be split and used hands-free. Why would you have something that leaves you hand free. Would it not be just as good to leave the split iPhone at home or in in the handbag if you need to do something with your hands? I don’t get it.

The mind boggles.

Himalayan Cedar tree

Land ahoy, or the end of Lockdown.

September 8, 2021

The figures are dazzling

IMG_0623tulips

The figures on new infections,  number of deaths, those in hospital and those in Intensive Care  Units with a finale of those under ventilators followed by a dazzling display of high tech visuals giving stretched-out a moving image of green lines across a blackboard backdrop of both single and double vaccinations are given in daily front line news. There is no escape and we are locked-downed into this while wearing masks and staying the distance between humans that still move on legs.  

There was a moment whereby the news would shift away from all those numbers and graphs when the Taliban (Afghan people) took control of Taliban Country ( Afghanistan). Alas it did not take long for the news to revert again to the previous diet of pandemics presented by sweaty newsreaders and beady eyed politicians. Not a sliver of positivity was allowed to enter the news and even the Paralympics did not really cut through the thickness of Covid and stretched out patients with blaring ambulance’s sirens. Still, the Afghanistan and Paralympic diversion was nice while it lasted

In the meantime the parks are full of people walking their dogs and children. The proliferation of tricycles and mopeds a noticeable addition to the usual tangle of dog leads and poop filled garbage containers which the councils had the foresight to enhance the public parks with. Our way of dealing with dog droppings would have to be the best in the world as well as our civic obedience in accepting lockdowns week in-week out, months in – months out. A remarkable example of the normally anti-authoritarian Aussi. Almost overnight dogshit has left our footpaths and public areas and no one bats an eyelid watching the melancholic task of a dog owner carefully wetting his fingers and opening the plastic bag, turning it inside out and then stoop down to deftly pick up the shit and reverse the procedure under the curious and watchful eye of the dog, and carry the filled bag to home or the nearest garbage bin. The dog must really be pleased how he managed to train the owner so well

IMG_1263lake Alexandra

Anyway, the end of lockdowns will now happen when between 70 and 80 % of people including children above 12 years have been fully vaccinated, which is projected to be around the middle of November. In the meantime my strategy is to continue walking and walking, talking with my friends at the local Bradman Cricket oval. A world famous oval as shown by the busloads of Pakistanis , Indians Afghanis and many other cricket loving tourists that came here by the thousands during the pre Covid era.

I wonder if there will be any sort of  post Lockdown effect or hangover. Will some people need counselling to get used being close to others again, able to converse and use speech and gestures needed to renew social intercourse. Have some of us become addicted to ‘keeping space and away from each other’? We are told that masks will probably stay. Oceans already are awash with plastic and no doubt those blue mouth masks being discarded in our sewage and on the streets will find themselves being entangled in turtles and fish, mammals and wash up on our shores. How long does it take for those masks to disintegrate?

Covid has a lot to answer for but the end is nigh.

Mikis Theodorakis and Greece

September 4, 2021

The composer

The Composer of world renown, Mikis Theodorakis has passed away and I morn his departure. Most of us know him as the composer of the music in the films Zorba the Greek and the thriller Z. 

He was also a staunch defender of freedom and strongly opposed the military Junta for which he was jailed several times. I put here an interpretation of his music by our own indigenous dancers which I keep on posting because I think it is such a marvelous video to watch and admire.

They performed in many places including The Art Gallery of NSW, but this is the original version of it and in my opinion the best one.

My memories of Greece are of the same time as the birth of the Theodorakis song and dance Zorba, and it was during our trip by boat to Australia in 1966 that we landed in Athens (Piraus) during summer. It was hot and we had booked the obligatory tour of Athens including of course the Parthenon and the Temple of Zeus.

IMG_20150717_0001

 

Here we are looking rather blasé or ‘cool’ walking through the Parthenon’s stone rubble. I doubt that today one could get that close to it. Some years before I visited the pyramid of Cheops in Egypt and I and other tourists could actually crawl deep inside the pyramid and stand in the Queen’s chamber, Amazing.

IMG_20140627_0002

Here we are about 1973, in Holland where I worked as an artist and teacher. The little girl om the left is Natasha who has from yesterday resumed living in Balmain again near the water, after having moved from a place which she did not feel home in. It is a strange thing this feeling of ‘home’, not easily defined but you know instantly when you do. Many people define a home by the standard of the kitchen including the shape of taps, double sinks or the number of build-ins in the bedrooms. 

IMG_20150412_0001

The above is our first home around 1970 with our late daughter Susanna on the phone. All the walls had been stripped out to make a spacious living area. Note the small b/w TV with real buttons, on and off, channels, and soft or loud.! Modern TVs now come with a remote control with everything possible except simplicity of how to work it out!

It’s funny how the dullness of indefinite lockdowns start to wake up memories of the good times.  There is a palpable kind of fatigue setting in. You can tell walking the streets. People avert eye contact. It is all so laden with virus fear. The numbers of dead and infections at 11 am sharp om the TV doesn’t make for excitement ahead. Does It?

Lockdown trivial joys, stay busy.

August 24, 2021

 

IMG_2064knitting

With lockdowns gripping people all over the world in its solemn icy journey , counsellors and those trained to keep us away from gloomy thought must be booked for decades to come. Who would have thought  thousands of police hand in hand with battle ready soldiers scanning the streets in case someone might be freely and blissfully aimlessly walking about?

Masks must be worn and the fines are stiff for open uncovered faces, as are being with more than two people gathering. The park benches are taped over in case someone has the temerity to use them and actually sit down. People are spying on each other and any music indicating there could be feet shuffling about with some joyous dancing could easily result in one being bundled in the back of the Paddy-wagon. But spare a thought for the hapless single person?

IMG_0130cyclamen

I might not yet have reached the stage of ‘haplessness’ but I do  definitely qualify for living the life of being single. My true love is far away and in similar lockdown situation running now in it’s ninth week. We can’t travel and meet up. Can you believe it?  If the dreaded Lockdown, goes on much longer we could well be nudging the ‘hapless’ criteria.  How does it feel to be without ‘hap’ and how does it relate to this Lockdown?  ( I copy from Wik “without hap”—hap being another word for fortune or luck. … English has several words to describe those lacking good fortune, including ill-starred, ill-fated, unlucky, and luckless, hapless is one of them”

The lockdown severely limits interaction and goes against everything that we are supposed to engage in to keep us sane and into maintaining the good ‘hap’.  Meeting friends, talking, laughing, crying, touching, fighting, loving and many other activities are so much better shared with others and now this Lockdown prevents most of those emotion being expressed to others. The benefits were supposed to be of short and sharp duration and that it would curb the spread of Covid, but with a new strain popping up, Lockdowns became the toys of the medical toffy boys who now give us a diet of expert opinions each day on TV and lots of Lockdowns to come.

IMG_2299 bentley

Bentley 

I am at times  when I sit in a chair having exhausted my reasonably wide oeuvre of things to do  (to keep busy trying to escape feelings of haplessness), this could include cooking,  vacuuming, stroking the dog ( Bentley) switching heaters on and off, making a cup of tea, texting friends, washing up, changing the bed sheets, knitting, writing bits and treats. Going to Aldi or Bunnings. But sometimes when all that has been used up and one is empty, an almost hypnotic feeling comes over me where I am awake but hardly conscious, sitting in my chair. Is is the much sought after Buddhist feeling of nothingness coming over me? I then find myself wondering if I should get up and move the cup to the sink, or cover my foot of which the slipper has dropped off, should I put my coat on the chair, take an impromptu shower?. And then suddenly the day has moved yet another hour forward, all of its own volition. 

I wonder if others are experiencing similar feelings, and is it Lockdown syndrome?

The escapist Bently.

August 16, 2021

IMG_2298 bentley

Bentley.

At no stage of my life have I so been involved with dogs. We all know that dogs are men’s best friend but I had my doubts with Buddy who really tested my patience. He was a prolific pooper and nothing I did worked, no treats or rewards, kind words or soft patting. He would just insist my place was his toilet. Just to twinge your memory, the photo below is Buddy.  He looks very charming and in a way he was but in my eighties now, I just wasn’t fit enough to follow his trail and clean after him throughout the house, both downstairs and upstairs…and during the night! 

IMG_2192buddy

Buddy thinking about where to drop his next poo.

The previous owners came and picked up Buddy and admitted they had the same problem. Still, Buddy greeted his old owners enthusiastically, madly wagging his tail. Curiously, he only moved a few doors up around the corner from a large medical center, now being used as a hub for Covid 19 vaccinations with traffic being directed by two people in Fluro jackets wearing masks and strong boots.

But let’s now talk about my latest dog Bentley. He is a Tibetan-Spaniel terrier with no problems as yet except that he wants to escape all the time. Not much is known about him. He is micro chipped and has a name and number. He was surrendered that day to the Local Shire council dog rescue depot and although recognizable as a dog, his long coat  had lumps of vegetation and burrs and bush stuck to him, it was pitiable. All around his ears, his tail, and  around his body. The coat was matted and beyond a layman’s skill, perhaps a hairdresser or groomer, even then? I decided to take him to the local vet, to get him checked and tidied up.

IMG_2318 bentley

Bentley

The vet thought that Bentley might have been sleeping rough in the bush or underneath railway bridges. His coat had so much dirt stuck to him that it must have been a while since he actually had a caring home. He also came with a warning that he had a habit of escaping and that he could only survive in a secure place, well fenced off and to not underestimate his skill in escaping. ‘He can even climb wire fences’, I was told by the girl who handed me Bentley from the dog pound. I assured her that both my front yard and back garden had secure solid fences over 6ft high.

Little did I know!

IMG_2299 bentley

Bentley plotting his next escape.

It might well be that his rough sleeping gave him survival skills usually not found amongst the canines treated and brought up as pets. They are given their food and water unasked or in most cases unearned. I mean, take Buddy, he still had juicy morsels of fillet, salmon (skin on), clean water and nice bedding upstairs next to my bed. And, yet he did poo relentlessly.

Anyway, Bentley might well have been a kind of troubadour or vagabond previously, and honed his skills in avoiding capture, who knows. He is street-wise and knows the world. He did escape the first day, and boy did I chase him. He is also the sweetest and most amusing dog, very clever and so far no toilet inside, except the first day doing a bit of marking here and there including the book case.  Who doesn’t?

I think I have him for good now. Nice name too, Bentley.

 

Buddy’s toilet travails.

August 5, 2021

IMG_2192buddy

Buddy.

There can’t be any doubt, Buddy is a lovely boy terrier and a great companion to whoever will be kind and caring to give him a home that he so deserves. You all know about dear Milo and how he now is in doggy heaven for the believers , or nurturing my Manchurian Pear tree under the blanket of a caring soil in my garden for the non believers. I reckon he is in both.

IMG_4523gerard

Milo

Buddy entered my life soon after the passing of Milo by way of a network of caring friends who were almost as much upset about Milo’s passing as I was. There were tears al-round, especially amongst my Bradman Cricket café friends. I was given a bunch of glorious yellow tulips and heartfelt commiserations. Most of my friends have dogs or cats, some have both. Perhaps there is a link between the game of cricket and having pets! 

A good friend had noticed an advertisement in a local pet rescue website looking to find a home for a small dog named ‘Buddy’. It included a few photos and a brief description which mentioned his generous caring nature but which also alluded that peeing was a small problem when housed with other dogs. I have no other dogs and thought it would be nice to give him a home. The volunteers of the dog rescue organization and I made an appointment to meet up at Lake Alexandra to see how Buddy would  react going to a new owner. 

IMG_1292 ducks 

Lake Alexandra Mittagong.

The meeting went well but questions regarding his history and with whom he had spent the last ten years remained a bit vague. Why was such a lovely boy up for adoption? We went home and Buddy and I took to each other with great enthusiasm and mutual respect. I am a great walker and I and Buddy took our first walk soon after we arrived home. He came with own bedding, jackets and toys. So, all to make him confident and to reassure him he came to a caring  home and hearth. After our walk we went home and I allowed Buddy to settle in, gave him a few treats and generally kept the atmosphere as peaceful and calm as possible. I did not notice peeing or pooing but at the same time did not go snooping around for any evidence as I thought that a bit demeaning. Dogs are very perceptive. 

We went to sleep, Buddy downstairs and I upstairs. He seemed calm and content. Next day when I got up I did find a poo but put that down to Buddy settling in and that his toilet routine needed some time to establish. There was also a pee against the bookcase but most of the books at the bottom shelf should have been donated a long time ago and were of minor authors and those leaning towards the political Right and Dutton.

img_0978milo-2

Milo with Angels

I took long walks in the quest for fitness and to observe Buddy’s toilet products, if any, along the way. Nothing was much forthcoming. Never mind though, plenty of time. He ate with gusto and did show gratitude by doing twirlers and tail wagging. He settled next to me on the couch and held his small head on my lap. I was so flattered. However, I found another poo inside minutes after a long late evening walk in howling wind and pneumonia-like temperature. Never mind, I thought again and went to bed. Buddy settled next to me on the floor in his own bedding. He looked happy. Little did I know what was coming next.!

At 2 am, A very strong olfactory wave woke me up and it was no mistaken, it could only be poo.  In a groggy state I ambled out of bed but not before putting on a light. There is nothing worse than stepping bare footed in poo, no matter how friendly or well intentioned the provider of that. Buddy was stretching the limits. I had a horrible night and after waking I phoned the dog rescue person and asked for advice. “Plenty of walking, feeding outside and praise” was supposed to be the answer. I followed it all but all to no avail. As soon as I opened the door after a walk he would do it again. Poor Buddy!  

After four days of poos and pees and looking at Buddy’s age of 10, I felt that in retirement one sometimes has to look truth in the eye and act. I phoned the previous donors of Buddy and told them I had to regretfully return Buddy.

They then admitted it was a problem they too had experienced. It must have belonged to a person who had an indoor doggy toilet, perhaps a box or tray of some kind.

IMG_2200buddy

Buddy

Who knows?

Love, Loss, lockdowns and a possible Buddy

July 30, 2021

IMG_0978milo

Milo

What a week this is turning out to be. On Monday morning everything was fine, and Milo our Jack Russell of  17  years had come down from upstairs at his usual relaxed self, yawning and looking up for his treat before going outside to do his pee. I know he was busting to go, but he doesn’t let on till after his treat. That’s how far he got me in his quest for total obedience from his master. No treat no pee.

Of course he had slowed down. His barking at motorbikes and black crows ceased a couple of years ago. But, on the whole he kept his sparkle and nothing escaped him. We took our walks but I would lead now instead of Milo.

By the afternoon, things had become a bit odd. He seemed to have lost his way and would stand outside next to the doggy door instead of going through it. He walked slowly in circles and when stopping stared in front of him. He did not want his chicken necks. A bad sign, but he did drink water. I took Milo to the vet who examined him but found his organs such as heart and lungs to be in good shape.

Th evening was bad. He kept going outside and hide under bush and shrubs, was very slow in his walk. I took his bed from upstairs and we both slept downstairs. Milo in his bed and me on the couch. I patted him during the night and he still responded by looking up.

Next day a return to the vet as Milo was decidedly worse. He was still alert enough to let me know he did not want to be with the vet. He never liked going there even though the vet was brilliant and a caring animal man. Milo had a blood test and the results were bad. Both his kidneys were malfunctioning and at his age it looked bad. I knew I did not want him to suffer , neither did the vet, and we decided to help him on his way. I carried him back to the car and buried him beneath the Manchurian pear tree at my front garden.

I was and still am devastated and did not think it would be so painful. At my coffee group I was given so much support. A condolence card was signed by all who knew Milo and was given a large bunch of yellow tulips. I have so many good friends and I am so fortunate.

The good news is that I am perhaps allowed to look  after another terrier, Buddy. He looks lovely on the photo and I am meeting him tomorrow at Lake Alexandra near my place.

IMG_1263lake Alexandra

Lake Alexandra.

I will let you know about Buddy and feel so fortunate.

No end of Covid.

July 17, 2021

Has there ever been anything like the present Covid news that has so saturated our lives? There is now nowhere to turn. The QR code has made double sure any escape impossible. At every turn one is asked to take the iPhone out and take a picture of the QR code which is a scrambled square that doesn’t seem to make any sense. Apparently it can be used to trace our movements but I am sure the world of quick money is using it to spout their products.

I have managed to get my double vaccination and even received a digital certificate proving my vaccination status. It is the Astra Zeneca of which there has been some concern that it produced thrombosis in a small number of recipients of that particular vaccine. Most of those, mainly younger women that suffered the blood clotting recuperated but an extremely small number have died. This information was badly handled by our Government and some became scared and uncertain and are now going without vaccinations waiting for the alternative vaccination the Pfizer which is in short supply.

img_2122-2

Almost daily we are given ‘updates’  about  changes to the lockdown rules and which areas of our country/cities have to be avoided. There are exemptions but the police is now employed to enforce by punishment that we obey lockdown rules. From next Monday for example the building industry is added to lockdown. Any hammering or drilling is strictly forbidden. We are given this weekend to secure any building or renovation site.  No one in the greater Sydney area is allowed to leave  and police on highways can check your number plate and know instantly that you have transgressed the lockdown rule. Those that don’t fall in line with the restrictions and lockdown can expect the dreaded midnight knock on the door and get a hefty fine to boot.

There are supposed to be exemptions on compassionate ground to visit each other such as couples in intimate relationships that are not living together. That would include me, but the consequences have to be taken in consideration. Do you really want to risk giving Covid infection? And what happens when you get back home again. Does one then have to self isolate?

These are hard and terribly boring times. I give myself some relief with wine and walking, patting Milo, knitting and some solitary cooking.

What can one do?

Here is something very exuberantly cheerful from 1725 by Jean Phillipe Rameau

LES INDES GALANTES – YouTube