The Iris has come

October 8, 2019

Sorry for my shortcomings in returning to your responses in my latest article or indeed to some of yours. I have been too busy with personal duties and issues of health and my dear Helvi. Her arm became re-infected again which resulted in her hospitalisation for yet another 5 nights. We are now home and hopefully things will improve, it has been a hard slog. Hospitals are not good places to recover and if there are any benefits I have yet to learn about them.

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In the meantime let me cheer you up with this lovely iris.

I promise to get back to answering some of your marvellous pieces and responses but can only do so when getting some rest and Helvi getting better. I can do with some bowling or walks along our little river. We are both so exhausted and in dire need of better times ahead.

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Australia’s Prime M. Scott Morrison is an International embarrassment.

September 26, 2019

Scott Morrison just told world leaders he will not apologise for his dangerous inaction in the face of the climate crisis.1

He’s just not sorry – not for pushing for public funding for dirty new coal power.2 Not for gutting CSIRO jobs, suppressing data, or censoring reports about the threat of climate change.4,5,6 Not for belittling Greta Thunberg and the climate strikers.3

He is utterly out of touch with the overwhelming majority of us who understand the threat of climate change and want urgent action.7 But if we say nothing now, we let Morrison speak for us to the world.

Together, we can correct the record – with the highest environmental authority on earth. If our Prime Minister won’t represent us, we’ll deliver a message to the UN ourselves:

TO U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES:

Scott Morrison does not speak for us.
Australia wants climate action now!
ADD MY NAME!

It’s an embarrassment, Gerard

While hundreds of thousands of us are still sharing the signs and speeches of the biggest climate mobilization on earth, Scott Morrison skipped the UN Climate Summit to look at a shiny, new McDonalds Drive Thru.8

And today, in a speech to the UN General Assembly he’s telling the world Australia is “doing enough” – even as Greta Thunberg’s slammed world leaders for stealing the dreams of her generation.9

But the strikes proved that we do not need to leave politics to the Prime Minister. We came together. We set the agenda. We dominated the press. We sent a message.

We are better than this.

Morrison has no idea what he’s talking about, and press and leaders around the world are calling him out for it.10 Now we can put Australia’s commitment to climate action on the record on a global stage.

Click here to tell the UN: Morrison does NOT speak for us! We want climate action now!

Morrison is scrambling to bury the truth. We will not let him.

While so many of us continue to step up, this movement is popular, powerful, and will not be silenced.

Yours in solidarity,
Patrick, Tessa, Sarah and Charlie – for GetUp ❤️

References:
1. Scott Morrison uses UN speech to slam ‘internal and global critics’ of Australia’s climate change policy, ABC Online, 26 September, 2019
2. Emissions Reduction Fund review considers opening the scheme to coal-fired power stations, ABC Online, June 21, 2019
3. Morrison responds to Greta Thunberg by warning children against ‘needless’ climate anxiety, The Guardian, 25 September, 2019
4. Job cuts in Australia target climate scientists, Nature, 5 February, 2016
5. Australia pressures Unesco over impact of climate change on Great Barrier Reef, The Guardian, 29 August, 2019
6. Australia’s carbon emissions continue to rise despite Government assurances about climate change policy, ABC Online, 30 August, 2019
7. The Climate of the Nation Report, The Australia Institute, 9 September, 2019
8. World leaders discussed climate. The PM admired a ‘smart Drive-Thru’, Sydney Morning Herald, 24 September, 2019
9. ‘This is all wrong’: A transcript of Greta Thunberg’s Climate Summit speech,
10. Australian government seen globally as climate ‘denialist’, UN summit observers say, The Guardian, 25 September, 2019.


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Authorised by Paul Oosting, GetUp Ltd, Level 14, 338 Pitt Street, Sydney NSW 2000.

Springtime is here.

September 20, 2019

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The magic of Irises.

The irises are now starting to show their flower buds. Very small still, but to an expert, clearly coming to the fore. They look like closely bundled sharp spikey leaves but each night they inch forward. Soon they will become flowers and I hope to be witness to that event. It is always a mystery to me how a bud suddenly is a flower. I am sure they wait for a turn of a head or during the dead of a silent night when this wonder happens. Of course, Mr D. Attenborough has teams of photographers with special slow motion cameras to catch that magic moment. I put it in the singular because I am sure it is not a slow motion flowering but a rapid transformation, otherwise how does one explain that one moment it is a bud and next a flower? I looked up the Iris flower in singular and most images showed a variety of flowers grown by the Irish people and not the iris as a single flower. In fact, word-check puts a red line under iris.  Yet iris without the h is part of our eye. The mystery deepens.

I have been slow and sparse in my posts. Life is still hectic, and recovery a slow train. Here is some food for thought on cancer medications. https://thenewdaily.com.au/life/wellbeing/2019/09/19/cancer-drug-fake-benefit/

It makes one wonder. Perhaps profit prevails over altruism even in the world of health. It is much better to look at Iris than at a box of medication.

PS; The auto-correct did put the h in iris(h) but on second try I managed to correct it and now the h is gone.

Out of sight but not out of mind.

September 7, 2019

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The plight of the family  threatened by being deported to Shri-Lanka is now reaching its final stage. No matter the outcome, the way this has been dealt with is just symptomatic of our Government’s decline in being humane. I am talking about why it was felt necessary to remove this family to Christmas Island while their case is being dealt with in an Australian Court.  Surely they could have been given a right to remain on the mainland with friends and neighbours with whom they have been living for a number of years. They have two Australian born children and have not committed any crime.

It is just sheer bastardy by the Australian government. How can one see it any other way as inflicting the maximum of punishment on people who have done no wrong? A last minute injunction stopped the plane in mid-air from flying them back to Shri-Lanka. A Court has ruled their case will be heard in due course and it seems likely this might take several weeks.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-49519805

Seeing the case will be heard on the mainland why was it thought necessary to go to the extend in flying this family as far as possible from their friends and supporters to Christmas Island. Christmas Island is part of the Asian Continent and thousands of kilometres form the major cities of Australia. It was formerly used as an Australian detention centre for refugees but is now closed.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/sep/05/biloela-tamil-family-our-daughters-are-scared-on-christmas-island-mother-says

I always thought that the Christian way was pro humane and compassionate. Our PM Scott Morrison  is a fervent Christian who doesn’t shy away from being filmed swaying his arms and jigging about inside his Mormon church. Here is a good opportunity for Scott to practise what he preaches and allow that family to stay in Australia.

Image result for Scott morrison and his church

 

Walking is good.

September 3, 2019

 

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Apart from admiring cyclamen we are now trying to go for our daily walks again. Over the last couple of months we were either busy getting dressed or trying to get undressed. In between we have had an  unrelenting regime, meeting with doctors, nurses, home-carers and physiotherapists. And that is apart from keeping up with provisions, paying gas bills and doing what my mother used to call ‘in between’ jobs. I have learnt so much about fashion. Believe you me, there are a perplexing variety of female  clothes with incomprehensible ways of putting them on. ( and off) Where is the neck or what are the arm openings and what are all those hanging bits about? And despite all that loose-ness in their clothes, why are the leg openings so tight and why also do the sleeves end up inside out?

So this morning it came about that we went for a walk. Not too far, as Helvi is still not as sure footed as she used to be before her crash downwards towards a concrete drive-way. We sauntered past our common drive-way where are neighbour was snipping away at the garden. He likes doing that but we wished he would allow things to grow instead of manicuring every bit of greenery in this place. But, live and let live with tolerance is the answer to cheerfulness and optimism. I am trying to stay away from grumpiness, so I greeted the neighbour with ‘doing a bit of a spring cleaning?’

We ended our walk at Bradman Cricket Oval. In the world of cricket, this oval is the equivalent in Australia of the Egyptian Pyramid of Cheops or The Great Chinese Wall. It holds The International Great Hall of Cricket.https://internationalcrickethall.com/the-bradman-museum-is-now-the-international-cricket-hall-of-fame/

Lots of buses with hordes of people all the way from India, Pakistan, Fiji, Shri Lanka and many other cricket loving countries visit this famous cricket mausoleum, and file teary eyed, past Lenin like tombs of expired cricketers. Donald Bradman is the most famous of cricketers, and new comers to Australia have been threatened to lose their visas if not sufficiently versed in Bradman cricket matches with correct dates, number of runs and Ducks mandatory.

We found a nice seat in the sun and Helvi and I really appreciated this nice park. The children and their mums were playing in a playground but noticed that the iPhone now seems to have morphed into some kind of umbilical cord. Most mothers allowed their kids to break legs or fall off slippery dips without even a flicker away from their iPhones. I would love to know what the urgency is. Should I ask?

Anyway, we walked slowly back home and our neighbour had slunk inside, happy with the day’s snipping and shortening of bushes.

We had a nice walk and had some yoghurt afterwards.

Puccini inspired by Dutch nursery rhymes? (Klap eens in de handjes)

August 27, 2019

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As a very young child  my mother and her sister, ‘Agnus’, used to sing typical little musical ditties to us. I still remember many of them and of late they seem to have made a return to my brain. I hope this isn’t the beginning of brain-loss, or worse dementia, and will cling to the life-craft that it might well be due to our iPhone transmitted musical soirees that we are now having instead of the nauseating diets of dreadful news on the TV. I mean, how many more times do we have to hear that sending war ships and surveillance aircraft to the Straits of Iran (Hormuz) are part of a ‘de-escalation’ of tension in the Middle East?  And, not to forget the images of the burning jungles of the Amazon?

With Helvi’s arms needing daily exercises to return to previous levels of usage, including bringing food to mouth or other functions normal for hands and arms, we thought that listening to hours of wonderful music might help. All I have to do is type in ‘Pavarotti’,  push an app on the iPhone, and voila, wonderful singing of operas. One piece we particularly like is Puccini’s,  ‘Oh mio Bambino Caro’ sang by Maria Callas in 1965.

 

Isn’t this sublime singing? The odd thing is that I feel Puccini could well have been inspired by those traditional Dutch nursery rhymes dating back hundreds of years and handed over from generation to generation. I sang the same Dutch songs to my grandsons and they still remember. The song they remember most is ‘Klap eens in je handjes’. Here it is, and it almost brings me to tears taking me back to those good times when we were sung ( helping verb, otherwise ‘sang’) to by our parents and when we ended up teaching them to our kids and now us to the grandchildren.

Now tell me, listening to this old Dutch children’s rhyme can you hear Puccini’s Oh Mio Bambino too or am I going cuckoo? Is there still hope for me and should I eat more Tofu?

A peculiar economy and Otto.

August 19, 2019

eb347-aussiemap

“In the past two weeks the proliferation of negative-yielding bonds has erupted — 30 per cent of the global, tradeable bond universe is being sold with a guaranteed loss attached to the coupon.”

I understand the basics of adding and subtracting of numbers but in that little sentence above, a whole new world is threatening our survival. We know that when it rains and we stand outside we will get wet. Perhaps our survival will be enhanced when standing in the rain. Who knows?

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-08-19/forget-inverted-yield-curve-time-for-negative-yielding-debt/11425960

We are faced with negative yields on our savings. It means that instead of earning interest from the banks on our money we might have to pay the bank in holding our money. We will be borrowing money that promises us that we not only don’t have to pay interest  over the term we borrow money, but that we actually owe less money than the original amount, at the end of the term. To put it simply; we borrow let’s say $10 000.- over ten years. We do not pay any interest on the borrowing, and at the end of the ten years we pay back less than the $10 000.-

We are getting a miniscule pension from the Australian Government as a result of having some savings which are ‘deemed’ to earn some interest. However, try as I might, at the moment long term interests is almost zero. This results in us eating up our savings. So far, no problem. You can’t take it with you to that place beyond our final journey. The difficulty is figuring out the number of years one might still have ahead and then divide the savings by the number of years that one can still breath upon ahead with some dignity, and hopefully without getting bashed-up in some ‘Aged-Care’ home by one’s own slippers or shoes.

This might entail a risk whereby an underestimation of the number of years ahead could involve a rather financial painful end. If one figures, lets say another ten years or less, and divvy the savings by ten, no problem. But what about the other way, and one languishes for another fifteen years? What then? The financial plan was spread over ten years and not fifteen.

I have a good example by my good friend Otto. Otto is now ninety. I never expected him to reach that age. He wasn’t interested in exercise or strenuous physical activities. He never kicked a ball, did summersaults or hung from crossbars. He walked slowly and deliberately, and with care. Otto liked his food but ate well, avoided fat, sugar and salty food. He was Dutch, born in Indonesia which gave him his dietary habits and a love for vegetables. He also had a rather eccentric habit of drinking lots of water mixed with some cider vinegar.

Two months ago, Otto caught a bad flu and was hospitalised. After he fought off the virus and became reasonably well, it was apparent that Otto could not live independent anymore. He owned his own place but wasn’t mobile enough to look after himself.  His younger sister who looked after him during Otto’s times of need, told the hospital she no longer could. Otto now lives in a retirement home. He had to pay $200.000.- upfront for a space and his pension is just short of $75 weekly which pays for his main keep. This money will be deducted when his place gets sold. He shares his room with another inmate.

I spoke to his brother, Roderick, and in conversation I marvelled how Otto managed to get to his 90th year despite his seemingly corpulent figure and his dislike for any physical activity. His answer left me somewhat flummoxed. ‘ Yes, Gerard, Roderick said;” “but he never married like we all did’! ‘We brought up children,  had a marriage, a wife and all, and Otto never had that kind of worry.’ No wonder Otto lived so long. he seemed to imply!

Anyway, that’s how it goes, does it not? My worry is not the future for our grandchildren of negative monetary returns, but a world with a change of climate making the world uninhabitable.

That would be a much worse outcome.

The conservative fear of the implications of ‘socialism’.

August 10, 2019

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American Conservative Union chair, Matt Schlapp was featured on the ABC ‘The Drum’. He certainly knew how to articulate his points of view, especially those held on his hero Donald Trump and in general his Republican Party. The arguments put against him by fellow participants on this program did come across somewhat paltry and weak. It just struck me that he came well prepared and seemingly knew all the answers. He said he was open to all points of view but vehemently opposed anything to do or associated with the idea of ‘Social’. I have noticed before that the word ‘social’ seems to bring out a kind of fear of a murderous Stalinist communism in some people. Mr. Schlapp and I believe his wife, Mercedes, are both of the firm belief that only Trump and his Party will bring happiness back again to the people of America.  His final words on the program was that when things are left to free market forces, problems will resolve themselves for the good of America if not mankind as well.

In Australia we have a move that seems to try and wedge people against China with some politicians barracking for the US to be allowed to install medium range missiles on Australian soil. The implication was that our choice in any conflict anywhere, ought to always be wedded to whatever the US might want to do.

We cannot change our geographical situation and are much closer to the Asian world than the West. Indonesia is rapidly growing and holds almost 300 million people which all live closer to Darwin than Darwin is to our biggest cities in Australia. With the present trade war between China with 1400 million people and the US with 325 million people, I doubt that China’s economic might will knuckle down before the diminishing US economy. Would it not make much more sense to try and stay friends with China? They are a growing nation with its own unique culture and history. But again, in Australia too, we seem to still have a fear of the ‘Social’ ideology. You know’ sharing and caring’ for people less well off, or less fortunate. I just don’t like that  we are being wedged towards choosing one against the other. We ought to stay friends with all.

With Helvi, things are improving. The infection in het left arm has healed and the plaster in her right arm should come off with a week or two. It will involve a lot of physiotherapy for another 6 months or so. We are both in need of a good break and are waiting for a period without appointments or chemo. It is amazing how we managed to get through it all which is more due to Helvi’s Finnish ‘Sisu’ than my own rather cranky demeanor.

 

The endearing kalanchoe.

August 2, 2019

IMG_0242 The kalanchoe

The woman engaged to work three hours fortnightly after Helvi broke her arms has been a good choice. She came again yesterday and we decided to leave her at her work. We noticed three weeks ago how she would silently glide hither and dither, cleaning the carpet squares after dusting the top of door-edges, pictures,  the white painted tables and moving about all those domestic bits and pieces that we have collected over the years. Some of the wall-hangings are crocheted cotton windmills with Dutch landscaped backgrounds which my mother left after her passing. I think how her fingers must have stayed nimble even in her latter years when in her nineties. She never was able to do nothing which for others comes fairly easy.

With the cleaning of the house taking about three hours we decided to visit Berkelouw’s Book barn not far from where we live and have a coffee.

Image result for Berkelouws Book barn

This book barn combines selling of both second hand and new books and a very popular place to visit with well over 100 acres of extensive gardens. You can get both married and have a funeral. It caters for overnight stays and has excellent restaurants, winery and everything else one could conjure up with sitting outside enjoying the country-side a special favourites of us.

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Here is the story of Berkelouw’s bookstores.

“Our History from 1812The story of Berkelouw Books begins in Kipstraat, Rotterdam, Holland, in 1812. Solomon Berkelouw traded in vellum-bound theology books which were en vogue in the early nineteenth century. Publishers of the period were certain of selling publications as long as they dealt with theology. Solomon peddled his wares on Rotterdam Quay and his clients were mainly owners and skippers of the barques that brought grain and other agricultural products from the provinces of Zealand and Zuid Holland to Rotterdam. The owners of barques were well to do citizens with a growing interest in education. Not much is known of Solomon Berkelouw except that his bookselling career came to a sudden and unfortunate end. On a late winter’s afternoon, with snow falling thickly all around, Solomon attempted to cross an icy plank that connected a customer’s ship to the wharf. Halfway up, he lost his footing and fell into the freezing water. Before anyone could fetch help he drowned, his jute-bag full of books sinking with him to the bottom of the icy harbour.

Solomon’s young son Carel was determined to carry on his father’s trade. He put the business on a more stable footing by opening a bookstore at the Niewe Market in Rotterdam. Under Carel’s direction Berkelouw Books prospered and he later moved to a larger premises at Beurs Station, also in Rotterdam.

Carel’s son Hartog Berkelouw continued to expand the family business. After serving an apprenticeship with his father in the Beurs Station store, he opened a new shop at Schoolstraat, Rotterdam. It was Hartog who first began issuing the catalogues that gained Berkelouw an international reputation. In 1928, the firm was granted membership to the prestigious International Antiquarian Booksellers Association. Business subsequently increased and Hartog’s children, Sientje, Leo, Carel and Isidoor, all became involved in the book trade. However, the Second World War intervened, introducing a dark chapter into the history of the Berkelouw family. During the siege of Rotterdam, Berkelouw Books’ premises were bombed and its entire stock destroyed. Amongst the lost books was a collection of antique bibles thought to be the most valuable in all of Europe. Further tragedy followed – Sientje and Carel became casualties of the war. As Leo had left the firm many years earlier, the once thriving business was brought to a standstill – the work of four generations of Rotterdam booksellers virtually wiped out in just a few years.

Immediately after the war, Isidoor Berkelouw began to re-establish the firm. He set up business in Amsterdam and began conducting successful book auctions. However, Isidoor was keen to move the business out of Europe. The Berkelouw collection had already been destroyed once and he did not want to see it happen again. In 1948 Isidoor liquidated his company and made the long journey to Australia. Shortly after arriving in Sydney, Isidoor issued a catalogue, generating immediate interest amongst book collectors around the country. He set up shop at 38 King St, Sydney and conducted book auctions on a regular basis. As Berkelouw’s clientele and stock expanded, headquarters was relocated to 114 King St and Isidoor began to share the management of the business with his two sons, Henry and Leo. By 1972 the Berkelouw collection had grown to such a size that it was forced to change premises once again. The firm made a brief move to Rushcutters Bay, then in 1977 took a quantum leap relocating entirely to ‘Bendooley’, an historic property just outside the beautiful village of Berrima in the Southern Highlands of NSW.

In 1994, the sixth generation, Paul, Robert and David Berkelouw, returned to Sydney, opening its now landmark store in Paddington. Five years later another Sydney store was opened in the cosmopolitan suburb of Leichhardt. Since then, Berkelouw Books has opened further stores in Sydney and Eumundi on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland. All our stores offer an extensive, interesting and eclectic new book selection covering all interest areas with a special interest in Children’s Books, fine stationery, as well as a hand-picked display of rare books. Our Paddington, Leichhardt and Eumundi stores have a vast selection of secondhand books. Adjoining many of our stores are the Berkelouw Cafes, a great place to relax and enjoy ambience.

Today Berkelouw Books is Australia’s largest rare and antiquarian, secondhand, and new bookseller. We have an overall stock in excess of 2 million books, many of which are listed and available for purchase here.

Thus the romance of books is engendered. Thus too, the association of books and Berkelouw continues. An old and fruitful tree of Rotterdam, Holland, now firmly planted in the soil of Australia.”

We had a coffee and the house smelt lovely and fresh. I took a picture of the kalanchoes from inside.

 

Forget me not.

July 25, 2019

IMG_0226 Forget me not

Another little flower that has just arrived over the last few days is the ‘Forget me not’. Perhaps, through all the events over the last 4 weeks I just ignored everything but this little flower is not to be ignored, hence its name. It’s funny how a flower as little as this one can still command attention even when surrounded by so much  activities as has been the case since Helvi’s fall. I found time to take her photo, even when not in focus, still it’s splendour is there to see.

Helvi tells me that this one comes around every year and in the same pot. The drought is now taking its toll, and farmers are now being counselled and billions are now taken from somewhere to help them through. Some are arguing that traditional farming is just not viable inland of Australia. Not enough rain and pumping water from elsewhere is not cost effective.

Our Prime minister is promising to bring suicide in Australia back to zero. A lofty promise, and one could advice him to  start at the prevention of that by looking at the refugees in Manus and Nauru, if he is to be taken serious. I don’t really want to wander off in the political arena but sometimes I get drawn to making certain conclusions bordering on the political. It is foolish of me. I know.

It is better to stick to the ‘forget-me-not.