Seniors, and the Art of Sand-bagging.

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He often thought about his painting days. There were hundreds of them. In the past they were stored in the dairy at the back of their farmhouse “Rivendell.” They lived on this farm for just over fourteen years. It all seems so long ago now. He remembers taking many of his canvasses from their stretchers and making a huge roll of them. It saved space. This roll of canvasses needed two people to lift, and it too ended up in the dairy. The best of his work, chosen by his wife, were hung around the walls of their farm-house. Many of the paintings were very large. This artist’s work was always well hung. The colour yellow seemed to be dominant in most of his work, with blue the second favoured of the primary colours.

When the farm was sold and a move contemplated into a much smaller town-house, the issue of downsizing had to include the paintings as well as too many books, chairs, tables, and the flotsam that inevitably gets collected through the years, especially living on more than one hundred acres. While many of the items of furniture and books were given to family or Vinnies, Red Cross and Father Riley, the paintings had already saturated the ability of friends and family to soak up even more. In fact he was often very please to rediscover a forgotten painting hanging somewhere. Like lost friends, he often surmised!

It was decided that the best of his work would be preserved. Each time when family or friends came over, they would leave with yet another painting, a chair or table, books or other accoutrements superfluous to their new and smaller home. It is something that people growing older tend to engage in anyway. A kind of clearing up before the inevitable? Tidying up loose ends. Who knows? The stairway to heaven clearly signposts; ‘no tables, chairs or paintings inside allowed.’  ‘Please,take care of your wings going through the gate!’

When they finally moved to their new but smaller premises, those paintings that were picked out to keep, are now stored in the garage. With the deluge and flooding of the garage a few weeks ago, it was noticed to his dismay that water had crept up the canvasses. With yet another monster storm forecast, he went to try and stop a future flooding by quickly building another levy in front of the garage door.

To his great excitement, the levy would soon be tested. He keenly watched on his computer screen the blue mass, indicating heavy rain, predicted by Bureau of Meteorology (B.O.M), slowly creeping south towards his town-house with the now two levies in place (One he built some years back, soon after moving in). To really make sure, he had the backing of an extra eight sandbags in case of the levy malfunctioning. His wife had advised this action while watching ‘Follow the Money,'(Betrag) another one of those Danish dramas, totally spine tingling but nothing too esoteric. I find the complexities of British dramas, such as Midsommer and Silent Witness far too taxing now. Soon, I’ll be watching re-runs of Rin Tin Tin.

The storm came and went. The levies were holding. It was easy, because the storm was a bit of a fizzer. The paintings inside the garage have dried and everything is in order.

Ah well. There is still time to buy a good read;http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0994581033

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40 Responses to “Seniors, and the Art of Sand-bagging.”

  1. Yvonne Says:

    I’m glad the storm was a fizzer, although it would have been nice to be able to test the precautionary new Dutch structure.

    More and more of my friends (and me, too) are preparing for that darned inevitable. Wouldn’t you think some of us could be immortal? We could have some kind of a Lotto draw to see who stayed and who went.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. roughseasinthemed Says:

    The stairway to heaven probably says no books too. What will happen to mine I wonder? No children to tidy up after me. Thrown out perhaps? The car boot sale looms.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      We gave a lot of books away and also donated many to a coffee-lounge cum book seller. He gave us a couple of lunches in exchange. No one escapes you…know? Ashes to ashes and all that. One reason I am trying to get some books read, while there is still time left. I am back to reading Henning Mankell again.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. petspeopleandlife Says:

    I’m so glad that your paintings were not ruined. Who knows? Perhaps there is a masterpiece hidden in the garage. It would be a shame to dispose of them.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. shoreacres Says:

    I’m not sure why you’ve suddenly gone all third person on us, but I can feel like Gerard has gone off somewhere, and left someone tending his blog. Well, ok — not entirely. But it does leave me feeling a little off kilter from time to time. i have to stop and think: is this one of your stories, or are you writing about someone else?

    In any event, that’s a minor issue compared to your larger point. The urge to move along, disperse, give away, and generally let go of does seem to increase as our remaining years decrease. All of my friends are involved in the process, as I am. There’s no reason to hang on to “just stuff,” even if it was my mother or father’s stuff. I haven’t used the small set of Haviland china that my mother collected — ever. And I don’t like the pattern. So, should I keep it, just because she owned it? Probably not.

    On the other hand, there are certain objects filled with memories that I refuse to give up, however strange it may seem to others. I have a dozen hand-knit dish cloths my mother made. I love them, because of the memories knit into them. If I weren’t decided to be cremated, I might be buried with them.🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, Linda. There were just too many ‘I did this or ‘I” am here, so thought of pushing this ‘I’ into a ‘he’ or third person or even second one.
      I wrote under Brkon from Bratislava for while. A lost soul walking along the embankments of the Danube, taken to drink and debauchery.

      His Nana saved him and in exchange for giving him shelter he (Brkon) would look after her clandestine slivovitz trade she carried out at the back of her farm shed, high in the mountains. It was made from fresh rain water and the best plums in town. The local commander was one of her best customers!

      His resolve to give up his drink and loose women, sorely tried him for a while. He survived and came good but his dear Nana died many years ago.

      https://oosterman.wordpress.com/2014/10/16/brkons-salvation-by-his-nana-in-the-cow-shed/

      Sorry for the confusion, but Gerard is still here and will try and limit the ‘I’ letter. We too have crocheted things from both our mothers. I am not sure if our daughter would like these. I remember going through my mother’s stuff and finding her wedding dress. We ended up giving it to a ‘third world’ shop’ in Holland.

      I suppose, a box of my paper- back book will also be found tucked under the bed, but what can one do? All our lives are really part of ‘Almost There.’ I do dislike this business of ‘being on a journey.’

      Liked by 1 person

      • Big M Says:

        I was wondering about the third person business. Did you think you were writing a science report? “The researcher titrated a ten molar solution…..”

        I prefer. “The beautiful H and I found some smoked salmon and Shiraz at Aldis…..”

        Liked by 1 person

      • gerard oosterman Says:

        Ok,Big M. As they say; one herring in the hand is better than ten in the sky.

        Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      A lost ‘soul.’

      Like

      • shoreacres Says:

        I decided to drag out an old post for you, called “The I’s Have It.” In fact, I may post it again as one of my “summer re-runs.” Not only do you get a post, you get to hear me reading one of my NPR essays. How about that?

        Liked by 1 person

      • gerard oosterman Says:

        Very good, Linda. I am happy to now go back to the ‘I’, but shall be more modest in its usage. You have a nice voice.
        I wonder if marine varnish has any copper or sodium pentachlorophenate in it. Hree marine paints & varnishes are supposed to be strictly controlled

        Like

  5. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    Many of our friends have already done the downsizing thing; some going to a senior residence, others still hanging in there although in smaller quarters. We explored the option of smaller a few months ago and then decided to stay put and hire more people to help.

    It is hard to let go, but most kids don’t want the things you have; they have their own style. Like us, antiques are redundant.

    Things like jewelry, family heirlooms and some artwork can still find homes, but books and knick knacks probably not. I have never been a knick knack collector so that’s no problem. Your solution to artwork is brilliant. Most artists have work stuffed under beds and behind sofas. In most cases family is already loaded.

    None of us are getting out of here alive so it’s better to make a clean job of it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Hello Kayti,

      Most of our friends are like us, getting older but hanging on heroically. We get together and talk about this or that but mainly medical journeys or how we can still do this or that. Helvi is a purists when it comes to clutter or nick knacks and loves getting rid of stuff more than I can or do. Slothfulness and lost socks are more my domain. Mind you, she did recently buy a kind of tree with branches that she can hang her earrings from.
      I try and maintain my tools in reasonable order. I still want to know where the hammer and screwdrivers are or the chain-saw, just in case.
      When it comes to the issue of queuing in front of the pearly gates, there might well be sign; ‘not here mate, try next door.’

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Curt Mekemson Says:

    I’ve done the drastic reduction a few times Gerard. When I went on my bike trip, I was down to what I could carry on my bicycle. But once I married Peggy and we became homeowners, things begin to accumulate again. Peggy worries about leaving me home alone, however, never sure what is going to get cleaned out.🙂 –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, I put bundles of knives, forks and spoons away. All were tied with elastic bands and put into a box in the garage.

      The drawer in which they lived used to be so heavy to open, and when closing, the forward movement of all that steel used to almost put the drawers out off their dove-tail joints.

      I still left lots of them behind for our daily usage and even for the event of friends over.

      After a few weeks, Helvi noticed them missing, and wanted them back. She is good at getting rid of clutter but she likes the knives and forks. Some we bought when getting married and are made in Austria.

      Like

      • Curt Mekemson Says:

        Well, it wasn’t like you threw them away, Gerard. You had just put them away for safe keeping! I would never throw away any family heirlooms, but everything else is fair game if it isn’t used for 3 or 4 years.🙂 –Curt

        Liked by 1 person

      • gerard oosterman Says:

        Oh Curt, We have the one year rule. Out, the lot of it.
        It is the coming in that seems to be the trouble.
        We have a lot of cushions. They seem to just come from nowhere.

        Like

    • Big M Says:

      I warn Mrs M that the garage is a type of purgatory where unwanted stuff waits for the recycling bin, or worse.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Curt Mekemson Says:

        Laughing, Big M. I once told my wife Peggy that she should probably go elsewhere as I cleaned our garage in preparation for a move. She returned after I had made several trips to the community’s large garbage bins. She still grumbles when she can’t find something she knew she had that I am to blame. And that was 10 year ago. –Curt

        Liked by 2 people

      • Big M Says:

        Yes, I was abused for hanging the rake in a new spot. It had been hanging, head uppermost next to the door for over ten years. Sometimes I transition unwanted stuff into an area under the house for a few years prior to moving into the Bin or council tip.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Curt Mekemson Says:

        Always a good idea to choose a middle path.🙂 –Curt

        Liked by 1 person

      • gerard oosterman Says:

        Yes, Big M. Stay strong. We must unite.

        Liked by 1 person

      • gerard oosterman Says:

        Yesterday, Helvi found an old pressure cooker that I had secreted behind some sheets in the garage. She re-surrected it and made a chicken stock for tonight’s risotto.
        When the stock was boiling there is that maddening sound of a kind of wobbly steel thing on top of the lid that allows the excess steam to escape.
        What can I do?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Big M Says:

        Years ago I helped a mate clean out his garage, under the house, etc, in preparation for the big wedding at home. We were just about to drive off with a huge trailer load of rubbish when his wife appeared. “Thanks so much for boxing up the fondue set, and accoutrements.” As she whisked the box of rubbish out of the trailer.” That was a wedding present from my first marriage.” Like she had been looking for the damned thing all day!

        Liked by 1 person

      • gerard oosterman Says:

        When living in Balmain and after some new people moved in opposite, they found the wedding video of the previous couple that had owned the house, tucked away on the top of a shelf in the bedroom. They had split up some years before.
        One wonders how many wedding videos are left behind, all lonely and forgotten. I would love to watch a couple of those videos.
        I wonder if videos are made of disappointed marriages & weddings or bitter divorce,. perhaps during Court procedures. Do divorced couples go around on a horse and carriage? Hire a stretch limo?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Big M Says:

        I’m astounded now that one in three, or is it, two, weddings end in divorce, why couples are still spending thousands on dresses, photos and flowers? I’d rather enjoy the peace of a local park, and a decent meal in a restaurant.

        Liked by 1 person

      • gerard oosterman Says:

        Yes, I know Big M.
        A few weeks ago there was a wedding promotion event on the Bradman Cricket oval. Not a square metre of the pitch was available. All was booked out to dozens of white marquees pushing their wedding wares, including the obligatory experts who for a mere 50.000,- dollars could arrange a modest wedding. I noticed lots of young pre-nuptial coupled sauntering past all the tents. It doesn’t auger well for any marriage (( I reckon) when spending big on weddings takes over. I felt like going around holding a placard ‘beware, the end is nigh,’ with a graph showing the percentages of failed marriages.
        But, who am I? Still going strong since 1965 with the lovely Helvi. A honey-moon in a hut on a frozen lake in Finland ( Ankeriasjarvi) with pancakes and Golden Syrup. The last of the Mohicans.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    I loved revisiting your Rivendell home.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. rodhart (@roderick_hart) Says:

    I’m sorry about the water trying to steal your paintings. Very trying, that must be. As for getting rid of things before departing the scene, I’ve been trying to do that but people keep on giving us objects as presents. Theses sometimes include DVDs, but other things too from holiday destinations. I was thinking of moving to a tent.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Strange, how I should read only yesterday that the Green party here is pushing for people to be allowed to live in tents, Rod. They are also trying to change the law on land titles so that more than one dwelling can be build on a single block of land.
      Sydney is now the most expensive city in the world, yet its domestic architecture a dismal sameness, street after suburban street stretched out for miles and miles. One only sees cars, very few people about.
      A good thing is that many domestic goods are now left on the nature strips for people to pick up and recycle.

      Like

  9. Julia Lund Says:

    You should have an exhibition and sell some. If I were in your neck of the woods, I’d definitely come and buy. I love what I’ve seen on your blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      That is such a nice thing to say, Julia. Thank you. Did I tell you, I am almost ready to start proof reading (again) my second book. It has been edited by our mutual David Burton. There was a lot of blue in the latest version, ‘my grammar and I’ are still distant friends.
      Have you heard of Beta reading?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Julia Lund Says:

        You’re on a roll! I have three prople who beta read for me; they’re brilliant at typos too. You need people who’ll tell you like it is. Good beta reading gets your work into better shape begore it’s edited.

        Like

      • gerard oosterman Says:

        Yes, I generally like my words more than is good for me. A kind of overblown confidence.
        When my friends and family read them, they often say kind things.
        I do generally listen to critique and when reading back things I wrote, sometimes turn red in embarrassment.

        Like

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