Slowly does it

IMG_0363 lamb curry

This Christmas I will try and keep the tradition of the lamb-curry going, hard as this will be. It’s been almost two months since Helvi past away and the grief wells up at the very mentioning of it right now. I don’t want to stop the grief from doing that, I owe it to Helvi and myself, even though she would not want me to suffer. It has to be seen through, and perhaps a time will come when it lessons and the joyful memories of her will grow in strength.

You know,  last week my sister and husband stayed with me for four days and the second last evening we decided to grab a meal at a restaurant. The choice was to go to the local Chinese, always a handy and safe standby, even though through the decades the ‘Chinese’ here in Bowral has been toned down to something between a spicy cultural experience to a more muted localised event! Perhaps the reader might conjure up the localised Chinese fare slowly but inexorably edging towards Fish & Chips! Anyway, I chose a mixture of Szechuan chicken with black bean sauce while others went for a variety of similar dishes, including prawns, all served with white rice.

On the table near us an elderly couple had taken a seat at a table for two. When entering the restaurant I noticed both were unsteady on their feet and he used the aid of a walker to get to his seat while she was seated down by the help of a kind waitress.  Soon they placed their order and even quicker came their dishes. In Chinese restaurants one of a huge advantage is the quick service and no sullen waiters either.

What amazed me was that during their entire meal not a word was spoken between, I assumed, husband and wife. I noticed she looked at him but he did not respond to this eye contact. The wife might have wanted to say something but their contact, during meals anyway, had gone beyond talk or exchange of words. They kept looking past each other. I have seen it before, and not only between elderly couples. Young couple too. They just sit there, and have giant jaws masticating up and down, but no words. They get up and walk away. The elderly couple were dressed for the meal though, but I wondered how they were going to bed that night. Would they say; ‘we had a lovely evening?’  But no words.

Anyway. right now I have the following ingredients in the oven to make what I will hope will be a really nice lamb curry with spinach. An easy dish which just needs a couple of fried onions mixed with a de-boned leg of lamb all cut in large chunks. Added to that are at least two table spoons of curry paste with a tablespoon of turmeric. Then the whole lot given a tin of Italian dice tomatoes, two cupful’s of vegetables stock, 250mls of coconut milk. The then whole lot in the oven on low heat of 150c for a bit more than an hour. Just before the end one mixes in about 250gram of frozen spinach. When dished out you can garnish it with fresh coriander and then just eat…

But please, talk

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32 Responses to “Slowly does it”

  1. lifecameos Says:

    All the best to you as you move through this milestone time.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. leggypeggy Says:

    Glad you’re making the curry in advance so it has time to mature. You’d have trouble shutting me up.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. rangewriter Says:

    If I lived closer, I’d come begging at your door with an empty bowl and a nice bottle of wine! Glad you’re moving through these difficult steps with such determination and realistic expectations. You are a role model.
    I wonder if perhaps the husband of the couple at the restaurant might be suffering from a bit of dementia? That can make conversations difficult. But also, those who have companionship at hand, don’t value it enough till it is missing. Your point is well taken.
    Hugs from the other side of the big pond.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      You can come begging at my door anytime, Linda. I’ll fill the begging bowl with lavender and myrrh…
      I think the couple at the table not talking were so used to the non verbal evenings. He paid the bill and was animated enough to chat to the waitress. It’s the way some couples go, I suppose.
      Hugs from me too,( the door is open.)

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Robert Parker Says:

    Your lamb curry looks delicious. If I’m eating by myself, then I’ll email, text, skype with people during the meal, so having a conversation one step removed.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. petspeopleandlife Says:

    I suppose many folks just have nothing to say and pefer to just eat. I don’t really talk when I am eating and I detest eating out. It just is not my cup of tea. Perhaps the elderly couple really have nothing to talk about.

    I am glad that you are slowly working through your grief. It can feel like a huge weight that you are carrying.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, when love withers on the vine, the talk goes with it, I suppose.

      Mind you, I remember Helvi asking me when I was almost totally prostrate and engrossed in a very nice dish,; ‘can you lift your head from the plate and look at me?’ I felt embarrassed but it was true.

      We liked talking though and now the house is quiet.

      Eating out on my own has no attraction. I do sometimes get one of those Sushi snacks and eat it in the shopping centres where many fast food outlets are always busy. Never a MacDonald though or a KFC.

      My daughter and grandsons are coming this evening, ready for the Christmas eve curry tomorrow. I bought some yoghurt as well, a handy help if the dish is a bit spicy.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. catterel Says:

    I wonder if one or both of them was deaf? That can be a problem in a busy restaurant with lots of background noise. Gerard, it’s so hard and you are just taking one small step at a time – but you will find yourself moving forward. Have a blessed Christmas – and I’m going to try your lamb curry recipe. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, I can recommend this curry. It is not all that much work and I am flattered that you are going to try it out.
      There is another lamb curry that had the lamb soaked in a mixture of yoghurt and lemon juice for a couple of days before cooking. Perhaps the noise and deafness was a problem for the old couple but at the same time there did not seem much connectedness between them. He could at least have a smile towards her but his chin was firmly set jutting out.

      Perhaps I am becoming an old sourpuss, or a Jerimiah as the say.


  7. Big M Says:

    I can only imagine how difficult it will be having Christmas without Helvi. I guess every day must feel like an eternity without her. Anyhoo, I often feel as though we strengthen our memories and keep those we have lost alive in our hearts by carrying out some shared ritual, or doing something the way they used to do it. The Christmas curry will do just that.

    I agree with some of the other comments. The quiet couple may suffer from dementia, deafness, etc. They may well have enjoyed themselves.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, big M. It is hard, and this morning I had a total bawl-out at the Bowral hospital with a very good and understanding councillor. I feel good now.

      I reckon you are a councillor yourself and has helped me through a few patches. Helvi was fond of you, ‘a good bloke’, she said.

      You are right, the couple might well have enjoyed themselves. One can’t judge those on perhaps superficial observations. After all, they did go through the trouble of going out. Even so, a smile or a look would have made me happy.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Big M Says:

        I take that as high praise, indeed. I’m glad that there are counselling services at the hospital. It’s always the first to go when the inevitable hospital cuts come along. I’m also glad that you had a good bawl-out. We often can’t proceed until that sort of emotional release has occurred.

        I was embarrassed that Bernadette had fallen asleep the last time we saw both of you. She explained that Helvi’s voice was so calming and melodic that it was like listening to a very gentle lullaby!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. shoreacres Says:

    I suspect your perplexity at the elderly, quiet couple had something to do with missing your conversations with Helvi. When we’ve lost something dear to us, it can be hard to watch others seeming to squander it away without any apparent thought.

    I’ve never had lamb — not once. I do make a nice dopiaza curry, though. I usually make it with beef, although it’s quite good with chicken. The recipe’s a good one that I got from a Peace Corps volunteer who served in the Punjab — authentic, and well worth the time. I finally learned that curry’s a way of cooking, not a spice you buy in a bottle and dump into just anything!

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, you are right. But we always talked but even so, at times my eating became somewhat too enthusiastic, and Helvi would ask me to lift my head away from the plate. I still smile at that. She was so funny.

      Yes, my dad could not eat lamb either. In Holland no one ate lamb at the time we lived there. My mother used to trick him by telling him it was veal while in fact it was lamb with lots of gravy to hide colour and smudge the taste.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. doesitevenmatter3 Says:

    I tend to be too friendly and talk too much…so I try to tone it down. I always ask other people questions hoping to get them to talk about themselves. And so I can get to know them better.

    We used to have neighbors who fought with each other all the time…an older husband and wife couple…they were so nice to everyone else. Maybe they just liked to fight with each other. ??? Always confused me. Oh, well.

    I know you miss Helvi so very very very much. 😦
    PS…Your curry looks and sounds delicious! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, Carolyn. You show a kind soul and asking question to others is such a civilised way to try and keep conversation going. So many are all wrapped up in their own world and problems, that giving them the opportunity to talk is such a relief for many. Of course it should be a two way conversation too.
      Yes, people behave differently in front of others but what goes home behind closed doors is another matter.
      I think healthy partners do fight at times but fairly without the use of violence either by fist or by the threat of it in words.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Mark Says:

    Hi Gerard, hope there are some leftovers sounds good to me 🙂 Seasons greetings.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. auntyuta Says:

    The recipe sounds wonderful, Gerard, and the picture of your cooking looks beautiful!

    Our son came visiting for a few days. 🙂 Sat the 21st was a surprise dinner for us and the family to celebrate our 63rd anniversary in a German Club nearby. Our son drove us to Marrickville on Mon the 22nd. We did spend the night in Marrickville. 🙂

    On Tue the 24th we were back home again. From 2,30 on we had already two of our lovely great-grandsons with us and spend some lovely few hours with them! 🙂 They are 5 and 7 and are really good runners to the amazement of our son, who is their uncle Martin! 🙂

    Later that day there were about a dozen family member starting the Christmas Eve celebrations at our place. Very enjoyable for everyone, lots of eating, drinking and talking! I had made potato salad that everyone liked. 🙂

    Some people from Sydney stayed overnight and we had a sumptious breakfast together. A special treat was Peter’s ‘Baumkuchen’. 🙂 Nobody stayed for lunch today and Peter and I have a well deserved ‘quiet’ day. 🙂

    Martin is already on his way back home to Benalla. Luckily the weather turned out to be alright for all our driving and all the celebrations! It would have been too awful had it been too hot or too smoky! We even had a bit of rain overnight! 🙂

    Peter just found your message that Natasha and the grandsons came to see you. I bet they liked your cooking very much. 🙂

    I, Uta, sign off now with very best wishes for you and all your family! 🙂

    PS: Great to hear, that your sister and brother-in-law could spend some time with you. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      The boys and Natasha went back yesterday. We had a nice dinner and a wonderful pavlova, off course all missing wife, mother and grandmother, so, it was a bit subdued but none the less we got through it all right.

      Glad to see your family coming over and sharing in your Christmas.
      The last post I had in my mail box was a reminder to get my teeth checked! I can’t wait.

      Tomorrow will be open shops and people on the streets again, which I prefer to empty streets with no people around.
      Where are they all? Surely not eating all day or unwrapping presents. Perhaps just talking with family and friends.

      I always know when the grandsons come around because there is a spike in my ‘data’ usage and a warning from Telstra that 70% of data has been used with 23 days still to go!

      Still, it is Christmas.

      Thank you, Uta.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Andrew Says:

    Oh Gerard. I have been off WP so long I didn’t know Helvi had passed away. I am so sorry. The love and companionship you felt for one another was always evident and I can’t imagine the loss you feel. Christmas is a difficult time when loved ones have been taken from us. Belated condolences and best wishes from Hong Kong.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, Andrew, She died on the 29th of October. I haven’t reached yet the rational part of her being gone. It is, after 54 years, a long bridge that has to be crossed to reconcile that she is really gone.

      Thank you for your thoughts, Andrew.
      How are you going?


  13. freefall852 Says:

    Best whishes for the kick-on into the new year, Gerrard…”Once more over the top, my friends. . . ” …and have a sip for me..and I will for thee!

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      I was given a ten year old port. I might try it on NY’s Eve and perhaps while waving a sparkle stick around.


      • freefall852 Says:

        Ten year old or one hundred year old..experience and regret tell me that neither will show any mercy when the chips are down….Port wine is like a desirable woman…: Looks, smells and tastes delightful…but there is a sting in her tail!…and after reading some of your youthful reminisces, Gerrard…I shouldn’t think there was need of the warning… 🙂


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