Archive for the ‘Gerard Oosterman’ Category

Next time you buy ‘fashion’, look at how and where it is made.

December 7, 2018

 

Most Fashion items are made in third world countries. I have also been guilty of buying items and not looking at where they are made. Worse is, often we buy goods made using child labour. To add to the misery we end up choosing a Prime Minister who delights in locking up those that are trying to escape the misery. Even when Australia is finally turning a corner and most of us want the refugees freed from detention, Scott Morrison our PM, is going nuts and will do ‘Anything’ to prevent the legislation from changing that would alleviate their misery. He is a true hater of compassion and a fervent believer in his brand of Christianity!

Advertisements

Scandinavia and the Sami people.

December 6, 2018
Image result for sami people
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-12-06/sami-parliament-example-for-australia-of-indigenous-voice/10586566
“How might an Indigenous voice to Parliament work? Here’s some ideas from Nordic nations.”
      By Joey Watson and Annabelle Quince for Rear Vision
The Sametinget sits

 

the right to decide

The aim of the Sami Parliament is to strengthen the political position of the Sami people, paving the way for them to develop their language, culture and society.

The plenary, the highest body in the Sami Parliament, has 39 representatives elected by direct vote from seven constituencies across Norway.

The representatives from the largest Sami party form a governing council and select a president.

Finland and Sweden

While the Norwegian Sami Parliament is the most prominent in Scandinavia, it was not the first.

The Sami political movement was born in Finland after World War Two.

 

 

The walk.

December 2, 2018

 

 

IMG_0178our garden

 

” There was no possibility of taking a walk today”. The wind was howling and the sky yellow with dust and smoke. The trees giving clear warning signs by twisting and bending with stoic acceptance. What can they do about it? At best resist but surrender some branches if necessary. It must be painful to be a tree at times. But, all things pass. Even big storms.

We were not really given an option not to walk with the yelping of Milo. He knows how to bend and twist us to what he wants. He stands inside looking at the closed door and gives those sad little yelps before looking pleadingly at us. How do they learn that? I mean, people can easily make one and another feel guilty, but a dog?

After packing Milo in the car where he sits on the console between me and Helvi, you can tell he achieved his wish. No wagging of tails or joyful acknowledgement. He is so confident in his control there is no need for civility or gratefulness. He stares straight ahead and waits for us to take off. With the howling storm we thought of just driving to the next town and taking a short walk. During week-ends we keep walks with Milo short.

Motor-bikes and Milo don’t mix and we haven’t been successful in him making amends with noisy motor-bikes. He goes wild and just about performs self-strangulation straining manically on his leash till I am purple in the face trying to hold him. After parking the car we went for a walk. Helvi holding onto me and I holding onto an arrogant Milo. The storm was so fierce even I was scared of blowing over. At our age a fall could be nasty. One of the good things of dying is that it is much easier done lying down. It helps to stay positive.

Did you know that Charlotte Bronte after submitting some of her best poems to a possible publisher was told, that even though her poetry was very good, ‘a woman best fulfils her life within domesticity and family. Creative writing was best left to men!’

As for our walk, we managed to do a short one and only one motor-bike passed us. It is still storming outside. Tomorrow, I’ll be back for a check-up by the cardiologist after a month of medications for an unreliable and restless heart. I take 6 different tablets and some of them are giving me intestinal storm and freezing cold hands. The tree of life, for sure. It is summer and I sit around wearing heavy gloves. But, what can you do?

All things pass.

 

Shopping at Costco.

November 28, 2018

Some time ago I heard of a new shopping phenomenon. It is called ‘Costco shopping’. A bowling friend spoke how he went there and bought new hearing aids. Costco, he explained, is a huge shopping experience and one can buy everything from toilet paper to TVs, nicely crafted funeral caskets to embellished urns, everything for those alive and the dearly departed. The dead are as welcome as the living. This is apart from food, groceries, tyres and petrol. All direct from the pallets or bowsers at vastly reduced prices.

We have an American friend who already some time ago promised us the ‘the full Costco experience’. Last Sunday we arranged to meet up in Sydney’s Balmain where he would then take and drive us to the nearest Costco Emporium for a guided tour.  We are not really in for new shopping experiences but were curious enough to at least go and see it. Getting old doesn’t mean avoiding new experiences. I often regale our expeditions to Aldi. Why stop there? In any case, our friend had promised us to drive; so what the heck?

After arrival we noticed people walking with giant shopping trolleys. The trolleys were huge which, even though most shoppers looked normal sized, made people look smaller in what they actually were. A clever architect could conceivably convert those trolleys in mini-houses. The parking station alone was so large one expected traffic lights,  landings of light aeroplanes, border guards.  And everywhere those giant trolleys with small people pulling them along, all glazed eyed, and hyperventilating with over- excitement.

One needs to be a member for the privilege of shopping at Costco. It costs $50.-. Our friend had a membership card on which we could enter as well. After retrieving a large trolley we walked up several levels to get to the entrance. There were queues entering as well as at the exits. An infectious hurry is what seemed to drive most shoppers. In fact, the whole Costco event is finely tuned to spending and impulse buying . Impulse buying is what it seems to be about. The goods are portrayed at eye level and a kind of mass hysteria is honed to perfection. I would say that it is unhappiness and anxiety in most Costco shoppers which is cleverly taken advantage of and exploited by expert psychologists that try and maximise that manner of shopping. Shopping might well fill an otherwise empty life.

Cooked hot chickens were for sale at $3.90. I watched people putting 10 to 20 hot chickens in their trolleys together with towering packs of croissants. What does one do with all those hot chickens and dozens of croissants? Can you imagine going home with complete sides of sheep or pork? I watched someone taking a large pack of chicken breasts out of their trolley and exchanging it for a battery driven drone. What feverish thinking is going on with the shopper during those instant changes of choices?

The coffins looked nice and were temptingly displayed with white sheets tucked around the chrome handles with white plastic lilies poked in for good measure. I saw an elderly man fondling an upmarket nicely embellished urn ready for an impromptu ashes to ashes event. It was right next to a display of car tyres.

Helvi and I ended up buying some baby beetroots, a box of nectarines. Also a box of smoked German sausages and a kilo of sliced Swiss Cheese. (manufactured in Holland.) Our friend drove us to Bar Italia in Norton Str, Leichhardt. It was heaven and the Spaghetti Bolognaise was superb…as always.

All I all, an interesting day.

 

For the week-end. ( A Willy Willy)

November 23, 2018
Image result for A Willy Willy

The journey of acquiring my first car, the trip to learn in a rhythmic tempo of moving thighs, the Fox trot and the tempestuous Austrian Waltz aided by with Phyllis Bates dance lessons, would now surely also include a first date? It was on the cards long before any of that. Growing genes and rocking hormones does all that for us, irrespective of will and choice. The world is full of people now as sure proof of this.

The Vic’s cabaret at Strathfield was a large hall that had a raised podium on top of which to house a small orchestra. The ceiling was high and made of weatherboards painted a stark white as were the walls. There was seating on both sides with ample wooden benches. On the opposite side of the entrance the benches were occupied by the girls but on both sides of the entrance and opposite the dance floor all the boys. It provided a clear view of both sexes to study each other. The boys were much more blatant, the girls much more coy but also darting quick looks across assessing possible dancing partners.

In the middle of the ceiling was a large rotating ball which held little mirrors that threw fascinating effects around the walls and floor adding excitement and an atmosphere of expectation. I mean those flickering images and the music added to a letting go of inhibitions which of course is a requirement of daring to dance with another body, let alone another body of the opposite sex.

All boys and girls on entering were looked over and sniffed for any hint of alcohol. They were strict on that and that was good. All were stone sober so all initiatives to a dance were of free will and cold choice, no chemical help of any kind. My brylcreme with artificial little Kookie hair-wave and the Pelaco shirt was about the only external aid I could use. It must be remembered that at the late fifties and sixties Australia was swamped with young man and this created a shortage of women.

However, if a man had car it would give him a bit of ‘a leg-up.’   I had a car; what’s more a Ford V8 single spinner. But, I could hardly go up to a girl and say,” Hello, my name is Gerard and I have a big V8, would you like to dance?” With the abundance of men and shortage of girls on the dance floor, many a refusal had to be lived with. The “no thank you”, had to be overcome time and time again. It was also true that at that time the girls were more attracted to the true blue Aussie male. The foreigners had strange accents and eating habits, often far too polite and formal, shaking hands and all that stuff, taking the girls back to their seat after the dance.

However, there was one sure way of getting to dance. It was the ‘Pride of Erin’. This was a dance were a kind of circle or Conga line of boys and girls was formed in equal numbers. It took some time to organise but the excitement was at fever pitch. Everyone loved the Pride of Erin. Many a boy was straining at the leash. This was the time to strike out and get a date. The music started and I remember well the tune. It was ‘ What’s the matter with kids today?’ I soon got in my stride and swirled like the best of them. I tried an air of utter nonchalance and even practised the Australian ‘could not care less’ bravado. You only had seconds to strike out for a date but with the second round and same girl one could get a rapport going that hopefully would result in a date and exchange of addresses afterwards. (Of course texting was decades off let alone sexting or incriminating selfies. Now people have amazing sex through vibrating IPhones or Tweets.)

To cut the story short and after many a visit to Vic’s and endless Prides of Erin, I did manage a date. I took her to Woy Woy which the week before had been struck by a Willy Willy or tornado. It was the best I could come up with. I could have gone to the Blue Mountains but to stare at a mountain-view sitting inside a car might be fraught with some aspects of awkwardness. I felt touring around the devastation of roofs having been blown off and boats blown out of the water could offer a distraction and something to talk about. There was also a very famous artist living in the area and I thought it might be worthwhile to drive past his house and possibly have something to talk about.

The day wasn’t a great success. The talk wasn’t flowing. I tried history and Dresden with WW2, the state of neglect of our cemeteries, ( we drove past one)nothing worked and she kept saying ” oh, that is lovely, and oh, thank you’ over and over. It was difficult. We stopped on the way back when she finally said something; “I would like a malted milkshake”, she said. I think we stopped at Hornsby after the Ford V8 blew a lot of smoke going up a very steep hill when crossing the Hawkesbury river. We sat in the milk-bar and slurped the milkshake. She was really sweet and very shy. Perhaps it was her first date as well. I did not want to ask because it might indicate a kind of unpopularity with boys. It is such a delicate time. I drove her back to Coogee where she lived. The door was opened by her dad. He was a huge tree of a man, and looked me over. She fled inside after another ‘thank you’.

It was my first date.

Family and Migrating.

November 22, 2018

IMG_3364Grandfather

My Paternal Grandfather.

I remember my grandfather more than my grandmother. He was a joker often playing pranks on me but without malice. I remember their house. It was large and had a garden in a very beautiful part of Holland not far from Amsterdam. My grandfather and grandmother with so many other relatives we never saw again. It was a goodbye forever. We did see my mother’s sister and one of my father’s sister on a few occasions when we visited them. My father never saw his parents again.  I wonder how it must have felt for my parents saying goodbye all those many years ago?(1956)

IMG_3363Grandmother

Paternal Grandmother.

The above painting of my grandmother is the only image I have of her. It would have been painted by her husband, my grandfather. He was a painter of church murals as well as designer in glass in lead works. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Jan_Oosterman

I remember less of her than granddad. I don’t know why. I recently discovered a letter my granddad wrote to my parents in Australia. A rather formal letter which made me think that in those earlier times relationships were perhaps more formal between parents and children than today. Looking at old photographs people often look more serious. Perhaps getting a photograph taken took time and one can only keep a smile for that long.

. imagesCAGVCW15

Granddad painting while smoking a pipe.

The above photo portrays an idyllic afternoon. At the bottom it show my grandmother carrying a cup of something. Perhaps there were guests?

imagesCA3UWFVI

Pensive grandparents wearing slippers.

This photo might well have been one of the last taken. Granddad died in an ‘old age’ home in Amsterdam at the respectable age of 87.

And that’s how it goes.

 

1864 Denmark. ABC, SBS and Coen Brothers.

November 19, 2018

005

A hair-raising selfie around 1942 in Rotterdam

The Australian Broadcasting Commission or better known as ABC together with SBS are under threat by our Government. We all know they are obsessed by selling and privatising everything that’s not bolted to the floor. We know that since electricity was considered a saleable commodity and privatised, costs have blown out. Paying the electricity bill for many people is now a nightmare and fear driven. Many switch off power unable to afford it. Yet, we all use the same electricity coming down from all those poles and wires. The advice lately is for consumers to ‘negotiate’ the best deal with the myriad of companies that are re-selling electricity. The mind boggles. It is possible to save hundreds of dollars by doing that. How ridiculous a proposal that is! Are we supposed to ring around to get a good deal? What next? Negotiate our water, garbage disposal. Have you ever tried contacting an AGL or other electricity provider? You get a call centre from Shri-Lanka!

I can’t think of a single utility that the Governments has sold that actually brought better and cheaper services. The holy grail of ‘let the markets decide all’ works marvellously for shareholders and big end of town, but not for the consumers. Aged care, hospitals, education, post services, un-employment services, child-care, you name it. All are now inferior in their service delivery. Australia has one of the most unequal education systems in the world. The copying of England’s private school method has proven to have had disastrous consequences. Our education system is called a ‘A national calamity’.

https://www.theeducatoronline.com/au/breaking-news/a-national-calamity-australia-2nd-most-unequal-education-system-in-the-world–report/257471

The people of Australia at present own ABC and SBS radio and TV and are the last of the Mohicans that give pleasure to millions, and it is free from commercialisation. True, SBS does have advertising but it also provides all those programs available on Smart TVs and ‘On Demand’. This is what we now look forward to. However, our present ‘Market and US’ copying driven Government is getting increasingly stroppy with the ABC, which is seen by the present Liberal Government as biased and critical. Both the Chairman and Managing Director have been sacked. The fear now is that the position will be filled with Pro- Government stooges. Funding is being cut and all is set to sell the ABC and get the Murdoch’s News Media with Bolt and Alan Jones.

But, as I started this piece. SBS ‘On Demand’ has give us many evenings of great TV watching. We have seen 4 episodes of the 8 series of a marvellous TV series named; 1864 Denmark War.

https://www.sbs.com.au/ondemand/program/1864-denmarks-war

What I like about most of the Scandinavian series is the naturalness of their actors. They  look like normal people. None of that made up perfect looking actors so often featured on English/American speaking TV drama series. The American Coen brothers have made another movie. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6412452/

I can’t wait to see it. They are one of our most favourite film makers. One of their previous movie, ‘No country for old men’ is superb. But, on TV the foreign mainly Scandic series are my favourite with English subtitles. It’s so much better than studying power bills.

 

On the treadmill.

November 15, 2018

photoCupboard after French Polishing

‘Why don’t you see the doctor and get yourself checked out?’ This came to me from Helvi, one morning sipping her first coffee and my first and last tea for the day. I don’t generally see doctors unless feeling crook which is rarely. My dad was the same. He was right to avoid them. Last time he saw a doctor he was dead the next day. He died at 78 which I am now. It was on the 7th of January that he died suddenly.  We all went and flew to Holland for his funeral. I remember cleaning out his ashtrays and getting rid of his tobacco, cigarette papers and other bits and pieces. I am somewhat nervous seeing the 7th of January. It won’t be long!

I went to see the doctor because I ran out of puff just sitting on the lounge. It did not seem right. During our walks I  noticed a quickening of breathing and taking rests. No harm done seeing the quack, I thought. Her advice was to get lung X-ray taken. It showed good lungs but my heart was a bit enlarged and indicative of having suffered a heart attack. You could have fooled me. I hadn’t noticed any heart attacks. Apparently that happens often. She wrote out a referral to the same cardiologist that Helvi is seeing. The secretary advised me to take a ‘stress test’ first. She explained this involved a treadmill exercise to measure how the heart performs when under stress due to the expelled energy on the treadmill. I was more than curious how this would work out.

At the appointed day, both Helvi and I fronted up at the cardiologist. We always see together all doctors at medical appointments of which there have been a fair number. Our fridge is plastered with appointments. It is becoming almost part of our social life. We know the doctors and staff and greet each other when crossing the street on our walks. In the evenings, after the news and quaffing a fine Pinot Gris, we ask each other if an appointment is getting close. Memories are getting sloppy and we keep each other on our toes as much as possible. The toes are getting a bit arched as well. Every now and then, on the television, footage is shown whereby some poor mum, dad, or old soul gets beaten up in an aged care facility. It really helps us to stay firm and lithe enough to avoid that kind of ‘tough love.’

I was asked to take my shirt off. A series of tapes and wires were attached to my chest both front and back.  This was connected to a machine just next to the treadmill. I mounted the treadmill which was then switched on. I have never experienced such a machine but soon got the hang of it. The speed and incline were increased and within minutes I was running flat tack. My boots were clattering on the rubber treadmill floor till I became totally exhausted. This happened fairly quickly. The machine stopped and I was led back to the chair. I was knackered. As a result I was giving lots of medications. The outcome was an irregular heartbeat and my heart wasn’t doing a good job. It is not pumping as it should.

A further appointment was made to get a ‘Myocardial Perfusion Scan’ done at the Nuclear Medicine facility not far from us on the main street. I had this done as well, but that’s for another article.

Be grateful for all you have, even if it is not enough.

 

Don’t mention wars.

November 11, 2018

IMG_0190zwartkop.JPG

A Black rose. Aeonium arboretum  (With thanks to Peter Hannemann)

Dulce et Decorum Est
(a reference to the Latin phrase Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori, which means “It is sweet and proper to die for one’s country” )

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.
Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime.—
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

 

Is democracy a failed experiment?

November 9, 2018

IMG_0178our garden.JPG

It seems strange that Donald Trump is so opposed to things foreign. He has had two out of three wives  from Eastern Europe. He has German and Scottish genes in his background. Yet, he so desperately wants America only for the Americans.  Perhaps he is answering my question about his anti-foreign behaviour by wanting another women. This time a real good one, an American. Who knows? Something seems to bug him. He has a reputation as a misogynist. Remember that awful conversation he had about grabbing women?

He is also an unashamed liar, a bully and sociopath. Yet, he has passed two years as President, which most critics said he would not. I did not really want to venture into Trump phenomenon but his attack on the CNN reporter Jim Acosta  was so telling. It gave unassailable proof of his inability to see things away from himself. I just can’t figure he was chosen as a president.

Just going through his background and how his father formed the Trump empire. It was all built on tax avoidance, dodgy deals and schemes, transferring properties to his children well below their true value.  A true lesson in achieving riches through terminal materialism. An example in becoming a money driven spiritually dehydrated man. He directed the estate agents to not rent out his properties to black tenants! His son, Donald Trump is now the President of America. His father’s son through and through.

But, it is not just in America. There is a move to extreme right happening in many other countries again. Germany is veering towards anti-foreigners, and so are Austria, Hungary, Poland, Holland  and even Sweden, Italy, Greece. All are again flirting with excluding people based on colour and ethnic backgrounds. There is a movement to nationalism that attracts those that are dissatisfied. A longing for what has been.

America wants to be great again. But great again, based on separating children from their parents? Locking up those with a different nationality? Deporting those that don’t fit in? Shoot at those desperate people running the US border, the country of freedom?

Taking away the pass of Jim Acosta to practise his profession is how Trump responded to a question of why he used the racist card to advance his political position in the latest voting.

Acosta wanted to know about the (ABC Wires) “anti-immigration dog-whistling during the campaign, and specifically why he had referred to the so-called “caravan” of migrants moving through Mexico from Central America as an “invasion”, asking the President whether he had “demonised migrants”.

What will Trump do if he really gets pushed into a corner? It doesn’t bear contemplating. Trump is a ruthless megalomaniac and in my opinion competing with North Korean Kim Jong Il.

Australia is the same. The children that were catatonic with suicide ideation will be returned to Nauru soon after finishing their hospital treatment. The prime mister confessed ‘crying on his knees’ praying for the children but… he said; we must stop the people smugglers! And locking up people for years on end seems to be alright after you said your payers.

All is forgiven in the name of democracy. It seems. I don’t get it.