A Happy Holiday (Christmas)


With the issue of a school in Queensland not toeing the Christian line, I thought it best to use both forms; A Happy Holiday and a Happy Christmas.

Christmas (without snow) is almost here. Yesterday we bought the pavlova and, as is now an Oosterman tradition, we will be roasting the Indian Raan dish. The lamb will be marinated for a couple of days in the yoghurt and lemon mixture with the usual spice of garam masala which includes cinnamon, cloves, chilies and whatever I feel like chucking in. I rarely measure quantities which gives an uncertain and exciting edge to the end dish. Sometimes it bombs but at other times it will surpass even our wildest culinary imaginings. A good Raan in the middle of a hot Australian Christmas is to be applauded and revered. It is really the true spirit of Christmas. It used to be possible to buy a large shoulder of hogget or an ageing sheep. Not anymore. It is all lamb now. A hogget is to be preferred for slow roasting.

But I am straying.

You know how it is! We used to walk with our dog Milo past a house which has a large window reaching to the floor. Very often it showed an old man reading and three small dogs all seated on a variety of cushions. The man and his book on a recliner chair. A charming and intimate picture. Milo would run up to the house and the man and his three small dogs, framed in this large window, would all be aroused by Milo’s short burst of furious barking. The three little dogs did likewise. It would just last a second or so and Milo would dart back to us. It was a little tradition without fail each time. The man would laugh and we would wave to him. It was a neighbourly bit of fun. Then, without warning, the dogs and this man were gone.

The grass at the front of the house is now overgrown and the man’s car hasn’t moved. The curtain, that was never used before is now drawn across the large window. We are not sure what has happened. Milo still expects a return of the fun, but it hasn’t. He looks disappointed each time we pass the house. It has been at least a month since the last barking and waving-back exchange. I hope things are alright and it will all come back, but that’s not a given! Sometimes things don’t return to what was. No matter how one wishes.

Another strange thing which doesn’t bode well is that the chickens on the other side of our fence have stopped cackling. Worse, the door of the pen is open. I suggested to Helvi that perhaps the owner has died. ‘It is more likely that the chickens have died’, Helvi said. I responded, ‘only three days ago they were full on after having laid eggs. The chickens were cackling like mad,’ I added. The owner of the chickens is also an old man. His name is Harley. He has a wooden sign ‘Harley Davidson’ screwed on the outside wall of his veranda. Perhaps he used to ride a Harley bike. I will ask him next time I see him.

Harley always dresses in neat long sleeved shirts and wears jeans. A reserved man with a good sense of humour. He loves his dogs. They are a very large Bernese, and a lively small Jack Russell. Harley also does the gardening, feeds his chickens and reap the eggs. All of these would be combined each afternoon with Harley sauntering around his garden while sipping a glass of white wine and puffing a cigarette, overlooking his domain. A picture of a contented man. No doubt his wife would not have him smoking inside. That’s how it has gone now. I hardly ever see the wife, but she is there. Harley and I sometimes talk a bit and each time he would shake my hand.

I do hope to see him soon and look forward to wish him a Merry Christmas.

I also wish all of you, dear followers and friends, a Happy Christmas AND a Happy Holiday.

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25 Responses to “A Happy Holiday (Christmas)”

  1. Yvonne Says:

    Merry Christmas, may your raan be the best ever.

    I hope your neighbours and the the dogs, are all OK. Let us know if they reappear.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, thank you Yvonne. I’ll keep you informed. Haven’t heard the chickens yet. He sometimes goes away and puts the dogs with friends or the pound but not his chickens which he must feed with a self-feeder device.
      I know that there are plenty of mice running in and out his coop, enjoying the self feeder as well.
      Last week a rather severe-looking Kookaburra was sitting above the chicken coop with a very lively mouse in its beak. The mouse’s-tail swishing backwards and forwards. All of a sudden, the Kookaburra in one gulp swallowed the entire mouse. The bird looked less severe after that.

      Liked by 2 people

      • auntyuta Says:

        Hi Gerard.

        as always you write so very interestingly about the things you do observe. Your observation about what this severe-looking kookaburra happened to eat made me curious. I found out in Google that kookaburras are almost exclusively carnivorous!
        I copied the following from Google:

        Kookaburra Behaviour
        Kookaburras are almost exclusively carnivorous, eating mice, snakes, insects, small reptiles, and the young of other birds; they have also been known to take goldfish from garden ponds. In zoos they are usually fed food for birds of prey.
        The most social birds will accept handouts and will take meat from barbecues. It is generally not advised to feed kookaburras ground beef or pet food as these do not include enough calcium and roughage.[4]
        They are territorial, except for the rufous-bellied, which often live with their young from the previous season.[5] They often sing as a chorus to mark their territory.

        Liked by 2 people

      • gerard oosterman Says:

        Yes, Uta, they are carnivorous. There are many varieties and all love insects, mice, lizards etc. There is a Kookaburra on the central coast that is so tame that at a restaurant/pub the owners put a sign on the outside tables to be careful when eating a meat dish.

        As we thought it was a bit over the top, it swooped down on the table next to us and took a lamb cutlet. It then sat calmly on a fence nearby waiting for the next diners order, hoping it would be sausages and mash.


      • gerard oosterman Says:

        We just went for a walk and noticed the back of Harley and his balding pate seated in his chair at his garden. So, I take it he is alive. Thank goodness.


  2. Yvonne Says:

    And, OMG re: that Dutton bloke. Heaven preserve us from Christians.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. gerard oosterman Says:

    Here a lovely poem by ‘Lifecameos.’



  4. http://www.salpa58.wordpress.com Says:

    Your recipe for lamb sounds interesting. I am going to try it, I like the recipe part about throwing in whatever suits you and getting a surprise flavor. I do hope the reading gent and your friend Harley with the disappearing chickens all turn out to be fine.
    We will be celebrating Christmas in the warm sunshine of Florida, it is suppose to be about 80o that day but Christmas is Christmas no matter where we live or the weather it bestows on us.
    Wishing you and yours a Happy Christmas and New Year.

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, that dish is lovely. The acid lemon and yoghurt mix actually cooks and tenderises the meat while still in the fridge. At the end I mix in about 250 gram of finely chopped spinach.
      Harley is still kicking but am not sure about his chickens. I peeked over his fence and am a bit suspicious about lots of feathers about. Did the fox strike again?
      Right now it is 12C and we are heating. Christmas day forecast is 26C. That would be nice.
      A happy Christmas and New Year to you too.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Happy Go lucky Says:

    Yes me or is it I ? …..too hope that the chap with the dogs and Harley with his and the chooks all rise again and hopefully before Christmas. It would make us all relieved including Milo !

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      The reading chap is (or was) a few doors down the road from us. I fear he is not with us anymore. The house looks all shut up, curtains are drawn. I wonder what he was reading.
      Harley is still around and I shall talk to him as soon as I get the opportunity.


  6. hilarycustancegreen Says:

    Happy Christmas to you too and all (or most) of your neighbours.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Thank you, Hilary. The situation since the last plant theft has subsided. An occasional glare when we drive by the suspected thief. (83 years)
      The rest of the residents are friendly and we nod at each other, even shared a bottle of wine with some of them.
      Happy Christmas to you too, Hilary. Will it be a white one?


  7. Big M Says:

    Happy Saturnalia to you and Helvi. Glad you still have some of the old neighbours who aren’t mad, bad, or plant thieves. I yearn for a non-traditional Christmas of curries and salads.

    I’m over it already. The fire brigade drove around like idiots yesterday, blowing horns and sounding sirens. I thought something was on fire, but they were carrying Santa around.

    I’m working on Christmas day. The hospital used to be a refuge from all of the hullabaloo, but well meaning Christians try to drag us melancholics from our restful malaise with songs, Santa and Clown Doctors. I may be able to hide in the tea room when they sweep through. Oh dear!

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Thank you, Big M.

      We will get the full-on Christmas as usual with the grandsons and mother. I think as a good standby, I’ll have prawn meat, garlic and crusty bread. They are now in their teens and will eat us yet into the poorhouse. Especially now that the government is punishing us for having been frugal and saving for a rainy day, by cutting back our pension.
      Any income over $32.000 annually, is now seen as excessively generous, hence the pension cut-back. But…we not complain.
      Wish you and the good Bernadette a happy Christmas regardless of fire brigades or hospital sirens.
      Helvi and Gerard

      Liked by 1 person

  8. jennypellett Says:

    Happy Christmas to you. And thanks for the reminder that this time of year in particular is one to look out for our neighbours.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      A happy Christmas to you too, Jenny.

      Harley is still here. I saw him yesterday closing a gap in his chicken coop.
      As for the neighbour with three dogs. He has gone. All we ever did was nod and wave to each other. He liked reading. I regret now for never having spoken to him. Perhaps, the smile and wave were enough? I know he was from Maltese background. At least that’s what we were told by another neighbour.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. shoreacres Says:

    Merry Christmas to you and Helvi, Gerard. You’re already guaranteed a good dinner — I hope you’re gifted with a sight of your disappeared neighbors!


  10. rod Says:

    It doesn’t look good for the man and his three dogs
    but I hope he will return.


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