Autumn is getting serious


The autumn leaves are in a serious downturn. Going past the hospital grounds I was wading knee-deep in them. I love walking through them listening to their particular sound. The crunching of leaves underfoot cannot be imitated easily. It is a sound of my childhood when I used to play with my friends no matter what weather. It would be the leaves in autumn and the swishing of snow in winter.

In winter, and if there was a good pack of snow, we would take matches and some lint with us and try and find snow bubbles above the frozen canals of The Hague were we were living after the war. The gases that were free to rise when the water wasn’t frozen would get trapped under ice or snow and form gas bubbles which we would explore and set alight with our matches and burning lint. The aim and hope was always to get a big bubble with a huge explosion. We never found the really big one..

Is it true that boys are more drawn to fire and explosions and does that explain the inclination to wars and bloody mayhem? I watched a mob of primary school kids running into a park. Within minutes the boys separated and went running after each other rumbling and play fighting, rolling over the ground. The girls in the meantime, few rumbled or threw each other to the ground. Most were happy to sit in the shade of a tree and talking. Is it nature or nurture?

Another favorite trick of mine was to put petrol on water in our kitchen sink and light it. How I was fascinated by something burning that was floating on top of water. I suppose it was a lesson in science. I always did this when my mum was having a nap in the living room which was on the other side of a long wall-papered corridor. The bottle of petrol was kept in a green cupboard underneath the sink and was used by my father to fill his cigarette lighter. In those days it was the height of sophistication to light a cigarette by petrol filled lighter. Men walked around not just smelling of tobacco but also of petrol seeping out of there lighters.

The contraption used a small rotating disc against a flint stone that would ignite the petrol infused cotton wool wick that was kept inside the housing of the lighter and which would protrude through a small hole at the top of the lighter. Even the modern lighter uses some inflammable liquid or gas to light the cigarette. Of course the delights of smoking have long gone since, together with so many other enjoyable cultural habits. We now ingest more tablets than ever before but they are just not as satisfying as the pipe, cigar or cigarette.

Let’s also not forget that instead of smoking we now suck on sugar, salt and fats as never before.  Even so, we live longer or at least stay alive longer but is it still hotly debated if it is ‘living’ when the number of Alzheimer and dementia suffering people are skyrocketing and queuing up by the millions at the gates of places with names such as Eventide, Golf-shore Delight,  or Heritage Thistle.

I don’t want to grow old and in my demented state start grabbing nurses by the bum or mumble obscenities in church and suck up farts in a bicycle pump and then stalk my best and equally old and fading friend and give him the full benefit of a recently digested Brussel sprout blast.

It would be nice to grow old and still be writing my little nonsensical pieces within some reasonable word order.  I have some doubts though. Lately I wake up having to piss almost every couple of hours during the night. I thought of rigging myself up with a handy rubber harness above the bowl where I can hoist myself up with pulleys and ropes and sleep there instead of in bed.  I have to check the Senior Magazines for any aids. I am sure to find some. I bet many might well end up chucking a mattress on the bathroom floor.

In the meantime, my life of decades ago  playing with exploding gas bubbles under the frozen and snowed canals of my youth and now mulling over the possibility of hanging from a suspended harness above the loo is still proof of a busy and interesting time ahead.



Tags: , , , , , ,

19 Responses to “Autumn is getting serious”

  1. Lottie Nevin Says:

    In answer to your question about fire, I was mad about making bonfires as a kid. Every single pair of wellies I had, had melted fronts on them from kicking the hot ashes and bits of burning wood around. I did fight, but only with my brother – real bloody nosed stuff. I’ve still got a scar above my eye to prove it.

    The thought of spending the last of ones days farting around (quite literally) dribbling pee and going do-Lally in a care home called Heritage Thistle is just too awful. I hope someone smothers me with a pillow if, and when I ever get to that stage.

    Great post Gerard and thanks for freaking me out even more about getting older!


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Hi Lottie;
      The good and most comforting thought which gives much relief and consolence is that noone has ever escaped from carking it.
      Surely, that is reassuring and reason for joy.
      Just keep om kicking the embers of life and don’t look back, listen to “Non, Je ne regrette rien,” by dear old Edith Piaf.


  2. Patti Kuche Says:

    As long as nursing homes have good wi-fi so we can dribble online to our hearts’ content!


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Hello Patti:
      Or have E-readers with enlarged fonts with the complete works of Jules Verne. I might even go around the world in eighty days again.:)
      LOved your last photos including the ‘good Samaritan” taking care of his prostrate buddy.


  3. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    Another good laugh thinking of your gas bubbles exploding. The harness might be a good idea too. Ain’t it the p;its?


  4. Elisabeth Says:

    Oh the pain of aging, and the joys of remembering.

    I’ve been reading a terrific essay written in 1980 by a woman Iris Marion Young called ‘Throwing like a girl’ It’s a bit of a classic in feminist circles. Young argues that the differences between girls and boys – on top of physical differences – are largely constructed. I think about this too when I watch my grandson rough around with his friends at school – as you describe those boys in the park here – and reflect on the degree to which my daughters at the same age rarely if ever behaved like this.

    To quote Young: “Typically, the feminine body underuses its real capacity, both as the potentiality of its physical size and strength and as the real skills and coordination that are available to it” (148).

    I wonder whether we might reflect on similar processes in aging where we get caught up in people’s assumptions about aging and lose sight of our real capacities despite our age. Bodies are tricky things. We can sometime overestimate them and at other times underestimate.

    Thanks for a terrific post.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Hi Elisabeth;
      I have no answers why boys rumble around and girls less so. Mind you there are boys that don’t rumble. I could not get away from sport fast enough except for a brief period when I played handball and later basket ball…I found it ultimately boring.
      With age comes memories taking importance away from new experiences. Reflection on what has been and how to enjoy the present even more, without having to worry too much about a future which has still to be lived.


  5. Andrew Says:

    Another fine read, Gerard and I am with Lottie. Nurse, the pillow please. The fire can come later. My father smoked a pipe and very occasionally a cigar if I treated him. He had one of the lighters you describe but mostly he used swan vesta and all around his chair were tiny black burn marks on the carpet from dropped matches or ash. He would doze off, pipe in mouth. My mother used to scold him but missed them after he died. Must go now. Its time for my afternoon dribble.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Hi Andrew;
      My dad had a special reclining chair which he used for smoking while my mum was cooking. Ash and burn marks common as well. I hope to be able to go on without too much dribbles and incontinence. A wish born of vanity if not stubborn foolishness as well!
      I have yet to fall over or have dizzy spells but I’ll keep you informed of any unforseen lapse in any bodily or mental (dis) function.


  6. paul walter Says:

    Hmmm. The thread is a roadmap for the next part of my life…


  7. auntyuta Says:

    Your post, Gerard, and the ongoing conversations really cheered me up. I say, it’s wonderful to have a good laugh!
    If you give up the idea with this contraption above the toilet maybe you’d like to consider one of these bottles they use in hospitals for men’s piss? I believe women use bed-pans. At home in the olden days we used to have ‘potties’ (chamberpots).


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes aunti;
      I have been told it is best to stop drinking for at least two hours before bedtime. I like a glass of wine or three with my dearest H and if it means getting up ten times a night., I am happy to pay the price.
      It is not as if I have to go to an outside dunnee like in past times.


  8. auntyuta Says:

    P.S. Thank you for the song. Non, je ne regrette rien! It’s a joy to listen to Edith Piaf.


  9. auntyuta Says:

    Hello Gerard, thanks for asking. We seem to have lost contact for quite a while. My husband, Pwho writes under ‘berlioz’ mentioned he’s seen one of your posts. That’s when I asked him for your URL for I had lost it somehow.


  10. auntyuta Says:

    Hello Gerard, thanks for asking. We seem to have lost contact for quite a while. My husband, Peter, who writes under ‘berlioz’, mentioned he’s seen one of your posts. That’s when I asked him for your URL for I had lost it somehow. Sorry, I made a boo boo. This thing went off unintentionally. Things happen. Sometimes I just hit the wrong keys!
    Peter and I are just getting older. Isn’t every one? We’re both 78 now. I have it very much in my mind that we’re pushing 80. Still we’d like to visit Berlin one more time after having lived there last year for two months! Time flies. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll manage another trip in about a year’s time.
    About the toilet, Gerard. Yes, I say thanks for inside toilets. These outside dunnees were a pain. There’s another theory around: “You have to go to the toilet more often if you drink less.”
    Try to hydrate your body by drinking sufficient water!
    Truly, it doesn’t seem to help to dehydrate your body.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: