Teaching adults letting-go. Put charcoal to paper. ( Auto-biography)

The good news came about as predicted within a couple of weeks. Just when some other, even better tiding, knocked on barn’s door. The area where we had bought our second farm was near a village that was set and artificially kept in the 1800’s. It is called Orvelte and is a museum village. Some of the people living there were artists on the Government salary but, as they were given an old farm-house as well as a salary, also expected to produce art sympathetic to the bygone era of horse-carts, peat cutting, thatching, smithing of horse shoes, thrashing of hay and each other. Each Saturday afternoon there would be a village dance which tourists in strange shorts would photograph with large cameras and even larger lenses.

Our daughters, Susanna and Natasha, being enrolled in the local school. (their second Dutch school) quickly made friends. Both started to speak fluent Dutch at an astonishing speed. Through those friends we met some parents including a couple that lived in Orvelte and who made pottery. The pottery was in keeping with this historic village. Good solid salt-glazed stoneware. We bought a set of cups & saucers, a bulky vase, wine goblets and large serving dish. None have broken so far. The potter and his wife made a living from the potters wheel and also enjoyed the Government Artist salary. It turned out he was as fed up with his conveyer belt production of stone pottery as I was with the previous clock dials with seagulls in endless flight.

The potter and his wife soon joined another couple whereby the husband claimed to be a sculptor. He even managed to get the local shire to put up signage along the village roads pointing to his house with studio.  When I visited him and after introduction asked if he would be so kind as to show me some of his work, he obliged. He showed me a glass case with a lid behind which he kept some drawings of work he had done at The Art Academie years before. And that was that! Not a single work, not even a block of stone or lump of clay laying about. He normally charged an entrance fee to tourists to see his drawings inside this glass case with a lid. When he spotted my Kombi he quickly asked me if I would be so kind to pick up a wardrobe somewhere. I did. Helvi wasn’t impressed. But I explained he did not charge me to look at his drawings.

Even so we needed friends and invited them for an afternoon. He ate all of our peanuts. He must have been so hungry. His hand kept throwing those nuts back into his tilted upward mouth. It is strange how those memories keep sticking. I mean we did not mind the peanut frenzy, but were just somewhat surprised. Heaven knows what others make of us?  “Gerard is really weird and strange”, they could well whisper behind closed doors!

Another couple we tried to befriend was a printmaker. I knocked on his door. He just poked his red face through a window and asked what I wanted. I explained we were from Australia seeking friendship. “I am an artists too”, I said bravely while nodding affirmatively and somewhat conspiratorially.   “Oh,” he said without hesitation,  ” I am having a fight with my wife”,  “I can’t see you.”  He slammed the window shut.  Marital fights in Holland are just as prevalent as anywhere. Just because they ride bikes, eat herrings and live abstemious lives, doesn’t mean they don’t suffer marital whiplash at times. It is universal.

We did keep a few couples as friends including the potter couple of stone-ware. He worked as a part time teacher  and informed me the school for adult education was looking for a teacher in the creative arts especially painting and drawing.  I got the job. This was the other good news I was alluding to at the beginning of this piece. But that wasn’t the end of happy and more happy! I won a commission to make a mural for a yet to be built school in the small town where my daughters attended school.  This town is named Westerbork.

It all came good.

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21 Responses to “Teaching adults letting-go. Put charcoal to paper. ( Auto-biography)”

  1. Yvonne Says:

    A satisfying time in your life, it seems!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Patti Kuche Says:

    Maybe he ate all her herrings.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. sedwith Says:

    Gerard you make me laugh…the things that stick in your head are so amusing. What nutters!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Tolga Says:

    “We should all aspire to be nuts.” Hahahaha well said. Kind of nut like Groucho Marx. “Humor is reason gone mad”


  5. Carrie Rubin Says:

    Sounds like you had some colorful neighbors. They make for great memories and storytelling around the dinner table. Glad you got the job!


  6. rodhart (@roderick_hart) Says:

    Very entertaining. I have decided not to become an artistic type. Too late in life to affect a bow tie or cravat.


  7. Andrew Says:

    Is your mural still there. Gerard? Do you have any pictures of it?


  8. auntyuta Says:

    I must say this was pretty generous of him not charging you for having a look at his drawings! 🙂
    And he liked peanuts? Well, I wonder, how he would have managed with all the peanuts at Raffles Hotel in Singapore? I reckon this place would have made him really happy. To go with his Singapore Sling he could have gone forever shelling peanuts, popping them into his mouth and throwing the shells on the floor! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • auntyuta Says:

      “Monday, 10th of August, 2015

      We just booked another trip to Berlin for a family reunion, meaning in ten months we are going to be in Berlin with a lot of family members. We are already very excited about this!

      The other day we booked a train-trip to Melbourne and return to Dapto. This means, this coming Friday we are going to take the day- train to Melbourne, where we are going to stay with our son Martin. On Monday we travel back home on the Sydney night-train. We are getting off at Moss Vale. From Moss Vale there is a railway bus that takes us down Macquarie Pass to our home-town, Dapto, where we arrive early on Tuesday morning

      We are thinking of visiting the Nan Tien Temple some time after our return from Melbourne. We have not been at the temple for quite some time and are very much looking forward to experiencing again its calm and peaceful surroundings.”

      Hi Gerard, I wrote the above in my post on Monday. Please, let us know whether any day next week would suit you for a visit to Nan Tien Temple! 🙂


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Our peanuts were shelled. He really liked them. In Argentina they also have a peanut eating culture with the throwing of shells on the floor.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Silver in the Barn Says:

    You are so right about the funny things which stick in our memories. Like your peanut eating guest, I once had somebody over for coffee who put four teaspoons of sugar in her cup. And stirred. And then added two more. I was amazed! Also, isn’t it incredible how quickly youngsters can learn a new language? We had Dutch people move into our neighborhood twenty years ago whose youngest child spoke not a word of English. Within months, she was chattering away accent-free.


  10. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    Language is so easy for children–I think they have flexible tongues. I loved the concept of the museum town. Very interesting. I laughed aloud when reading about your going to visit the “sculptor”. I wonder if he ever resolved his fight with his wife? You have had such an interesting life Gerard. I feel privileged to be able to share in visiting it.


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