Archive for the ‘Gerard Oosterman’ Category

The Neighbour’s cat.

February 14, 2019

001The cat

Neighbour’s cat

This is a picture of the cat that keeps the mice and rats on their qui vive at Harley’s property next door. Harley and his wife keep three chickens which he calls ‘his girls.’ I feed the chickens when they go away. In exchange, Harley, or his chickens really, allow us to keep the eggs.  We like a nice Pinot Grigio so a bottle from that grape variety gets thrown in with eggs. They are our best neighbours and gives a good break from the cyclamen thievery within our compound. It still riles us! Remember how for exchange in saving our Body-Corporate $10.000,- in obtaining a far more competitive quote for the exterior painting, we were hit by abuse and threats for us to move and sell-up, and the twice theft of our potted in beautiful ceramic containers, the oft mentioned and loved cyclamen!

But the cat is what I want to write about. Just forgive my regression on the cyclamen era. The neighbours next to us are not in the same group as the dusty frumpy relics of the past. She, a single mother, moved in a year ago or so. She has two teen-age sons, and two cats. One of the cats is the one in the above picture. It taught Milo, our Jack Russell a bitter lesson. When he saw the cat for the first time he went furious and tried to teach him a lesson amidst the summer daisies. The cat with one swipe did the job. Milo retreated with a yelp and one closed eye. He badly underestimated the stance of this mighty cat. The cat was not to be mangled with. From that moment Milo gave it due respect and no further issues arose. Milo often spends the nights outside and so do the cats. I suppose they met up again and made a truce, if not a good friendship as well. Our Milo was the best of friends with our cat on our farm before 2010.

It turned out that Milo almost lost an eyes with this single swipe from the cat. He still bears a mark on his bottom eye lid. It was that close. What astonished us is when the cat now takes naps on Milo’s outdoor sleeping blanket as shown in the picture. Milo knows and approves. All has been forgiven.

Isn’t that an example how nice it would be if people could behave like cats and dogs?

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The Tent.

February 8, 2019
Image result for Tents

In our efforts to become leaner and not willing to burden our family with the washed-up flotsam of our earthly but temporary stay, we undertook to try and ditch some possessions we no longer use. The clutter of our third bedroom, used as an office is where we started some time ago. All those papers stored, ‘just in case’ but never looked at again. Do we really want to look at old gas bills, or Water & Sewage rates and taxation notices? Out they went.

We had stacks of photo albums. Hundreds of camping trips when our children were small. Holidays on the South Coast dating back to the sixties and seventies. Many recorded by my Agfa Clack camera bought from my savings while delivering fruit and vegetables to embassies in The Hague just prior to my parents’ adventure migrating to Australia. That camera was indestructible. Colour films at that time were sent to Melbourne for developing and it wasn’t cheap. Later on a new camera was bought and recorded our overseas trips to France, Holland, South America and a still lovely Bali, with some of our best memories from Santiago de Chile post Pinochet, and Argentina. We kept the best of those photos now stored in a blue Dutch Verkade biscuit tin and chucked the  empty faded albums in the recycle bin.

We have as a matter of getting away from inside our house also made attempts at cleaning up our garden shed. It seems that order of things don’t last even without actually using tools from within the shed. Sooner or later things become disorderly again out of their own volution. We discovered a rather large and bulky bag that looked almost as if it held an assortment of cricket gear. Most unlikely. We are to cricket what a herring is to a seagull.

It was a tent!

The tent was used a lot on our previous life on the farm. We can still hear the echoes of laughter from our grandchildren who, with their mothers, slept in the tent on many occasions. They would take books and read with light from candles. Did we not all do that when young? We did. I had rigged up a battery with a small globe and read Jules Verne’s adventures under the blankets during winter’s nights with the windows all iced up with frost designed flowering shaped greetings in the morning. Dutch winters were still cold.

With our grandkids now almost young adults and us on life lengthening medications we are most unlikely to go camping again. How would we get up from the ground? I suppose by the help of a tent pole. Over the last few weeks we did leave useful items on the ‘nature strip’ at the front of our housing complex. The nature strip is a green grassy area reserved for Australian suburbs. It also sums up to me a kind of terrible dullness. The noise of the petrol lawnmower doesn’t liven it up either.  Anyway, it held our small enamelled barbeque and several still working electric fans. They were all soon taken. However, I did not want to abuse this nature strip too often, and decided on a different method for ditching the tent.

Last Wednesday morning I went to the Moss-Vale Returned Soldiers Club for my weekly indoor bowling event. I thought that leaving the tent in the parking area, no doubt someone will get the benefit of this still in very good condition tent. The tent is one of those spring loaded pole affairs and easily put up. It was also large, for six people and a shade sheet for over the top with a floor sown onto the sides. Years of designing this tent went into its production.

After arrival at 10am, I parked the car out of sight from other cars. I opened the door and gently lowered the tent on the bitumen next to our Peugeot. No one had seen me doing it. But…just before the start of bowling who would walk in with a large bag? It was Peter.

‘Guess what I found next to my car, Peter said’?  It was my tent. He had parked next to my car after arrival. Other bowling mates advised Peter to unzip the bag to see what it was. I acted just as surprised and even said; ‘perhaps it is a gun’! After unzipping, it was found to be a tent. I wasn’t surprised. He decided to hand it in to the office near the entrance where members are always asked to show their identification before being allowed in. When I left after the bowling was over, I noticed the bag with the tent at the back of the office counter.

It had found a good home.

The Rat.

February 6, 2019

Image-1White cockatoo

A few months ago we started to feed birds. Our area is populated by large flocks of native Australian birds, especially the white cockatoo. Their loud screeches wake us up very early despite the double glazing. They can graze a fully foliaged tree bare within hours and don’t mind stripping timber windows from their sills. I have been told they, like rats, have to keep chewing on things to prevent their beaks or teeth from growing outlandishly large.

After establishing our elevated dish of special parrot mix on top of the Mexican Chimenea, lots of different birds soon became used to our generosity and became more and more demanding. They would start to queue up before we were ready and while still in our pyjamas, looked in through the windows urging us to hurry up. Even Milo became irritated. It got to a stage whereby when spending time in the garden they would swoop over our heads. After reading something about birds getting spoilt by well meaning bird lovers we thought of stopping the procedure. What really gave our decision to stop and gave us some teeth, was when rats appeared to want to get fed as well.   There were suspicious droppings around our barbeque. One day I spotted a rat looking at me before scurrying away. It had a nasty glint in its left eye. We stopped the bird feeding!

While, after a while the birds stopped coming, not so the rats. We had to take action and went to the local pet shop in search of a good rat trap. We have a large pet shop near us. They are the Costco of pet needs and there is an enormous variety of pet articles, a vast display of aquariums with lots of fish and fishes,  dog and cat medications, shelves full of flea powders, puppy nappies, talcum powders, dog poo scoops and soft bottom wipes. We looked around and I watched a glass cage with motionless pet pythons, all sound asleep, softly snoring. It had a notice taped on the glass cage not to wake up the sleeping snakes. Helvi prefers not to look at snakes, let alone pet them.

We could not find their rat trap division. I asked one of the many shop girls to direct us to rat traps. She said; ” we are a ‘pro-life’ pet shop and only sell humane rat cages.” She demonstrated a small metal wire cage with a trap door that would catch the rat alive without killing it. A normal rat trap breaks the rat’s neck when sampling a bit of cheese with some peanut butter spread over it. It is a spring loaded affair which is set-up with some care! We often used them on the farm with good effect. They work better than lazy cats.

After studying the humane rat cage trap we were told it was $19.90. We then asked what would happen to the rat after it gets caught. Would they take the rat and sell it as a pet to children? I know that we had white mice as pets and we loved them and nurtured them. The shop-girl said, “you are very welcome to give us the rat, and we will care for them”. I asked; ” is there a market for wild rats?”  She answered, “no, but if we can’t dispose of them we feed them to the pet pythons!

What? Feed  live rats to snakes? We shook out heads. What about, we are ‘pro-life’ pet shop with humane cages! We went to Bunnings and bought a wooden old fashioned rat trap that so far has been avoided by a very cunning rat. We check each morning, but no rat so far.

We are not surprised those pythons in the shop looked so happy, snoring away, digesting the latest rat. They are not so worried about the ‘pro-life’ stance of the shop.

Iceland fixed the banking crisis by letting them fail.

February 4, 2019
Image result for Iceland banking crisis

 

The idea that in Australia the banks will get punished for their appalling behaviour will not eventuate. It will be business as usual. It might be worth looking how Iceland got out of a similar crisis.

“The 2008 global financial crisis hit Iceland hard. The currency crashed, unemployment soared and the stock market was more or less wiped out.

But unlike other Western economies, the Icelandic government let its three major banks – Kaupthing, Glitnir and Landsbankinn – fail and went after reckless bankers. Many senior executives have been jailed and the country’s ex-prime minister Geir Haarde was also put on trial, becoming the first world leader to face criminal prosecution arising from the turmoil. although he was subsequently cleared of negligence.

So what can – or should – other countries learn from how Iceland responded?”

Seeing that the LNP refused a royal commission 26 times in Parliament, the question arises if our present, Scott Morrison and the former PM Malcolm Turnbull, should also be put under scrutiny and prosecuted if shown to have failed in their duty to protect the citizens from the banking rorts. Dead people were sold insurances and financial packages! It has been a national ‘free for all’ rip off. An orgy of terminal capitalism.

The rich getting richer, the poor poorer.

Have a look at how things can be turned around. https://www.bbc.com/news/business-35485876

 

A Dutchman’s riot at Davos.

February 1, 2019
Image result for rutger bregman
Rutger Bregman.

 

In Australia the worst thing one can do is to talk about paying taxes. Both major parties make people feel like pariahs whenever a policy is contemplated that might involve paying taxation. Sugar tax is one of those. Taxation raising is a mortal sin and confession to it is not likely to bring you any salvation. You will burn in an eternal hell.  But, the rich get richer and the poor poorer.

One keeps reading that 28 people own as much as half the world’s population. In the US, the richest country in the world,  workers in chicken factories  have to wear diapers because they are not allowed to have the time to go to the toilets. The chicken carcasses are strung on a moving belt so, a toilet break can’t be factored in! Profit at all cost.

It is clear that continuing giving tax breaks is aiding those 28 billionaires but not the workers, and so it goes. Its logical conclusion by governments to keep giving even more tax breaks will result in finally no taxation being paid. Back in Eisenhower’s day the taxation rate stood at 90%. That’s when the US was great, but look at it now! I have never been to the US. But… people who have been there recently are horrified of what they saw. Did anyone watch Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 11/9? The horror of a freedom that allowed the poisoning of 100.000 people in Flint city! And that is just the beginning. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flint_water_crisis

There was quite a stir at this year’s 2018 economic forum at Switzerland Davos when a young Dutchman got up and spoke a truth that resonated around the world.  The taxation rate for those 28 billionaires stands at zero. He claims that the inequality in the world is taxation avoidance by the super rich. It is not rocket science!

I urge you to see this video of the Dutchman at Davos.

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/feb/01/rutger-bregman-world-economic-forum-davos-speech-tax-billionaires-capitalism

The more I hear about western democracy the more I admire my hydrangeas.

 

The Bento Special ‘take away.’

January 31, 2019
Image result for Bento box

 

With the heat wave of the last few weeks and being holed up in our air-conditioned home, we do try and go out each day. The usual procedure is to take a break and drive to the shopping mall close by. Both of us were born in cold countries. Finland has each year a winter that is now being experienced in the US.  Holland is mainly a rainy and wet place with gale force westerlies buffeting the flat landscape. Near the coast the trees lean permanently towards the east as a result of those winds.  The heatwaves in Australia make the birds listless and the dogs depressed. We don’t like this heat!

Last Saturday, again a scorcher, with the temperature gauge on my iPhone rapidly rising from 21C to 36C within an hour. We drove again to this shopping mall. We don’t do shopping there but this time we combined getting a new disposal bin for the kitchen. What we really go there for, is the Japanese Bento Special. It has been our daily lunch. While the relentless heat lasts we will continue to repeat this nice procedure.

Before we left we had a good fight about the necessity to buy this kitchen bin. The old one, a white plastic one with a swing lid was good enough for me. I am in charge of disposing kitchen waste that cannot be recycled, so felt it was fair for me to keep to the status quo regarding the bin. Helvi said that she can smell this bin and as she is a strong woman, felt we should buy another stainless steel bin. ‘I want a pedal one’, she said with determination. No matter what bin, it does need a plastic liner. Again, it has come about through marital habit, that I take out this plastic liner when full. I tie it up, go outside to the garbage bin and chuck it in. This, in the heat, is where I get hit with the bad stench. Helvi never does that.

We drove to the shopping centre in silence. I noticed a strange vibration on my steering wheel together with an unusual, and repetitive sound. I stopped the car and looked at the tyres and the rest of the car. It all seemed alright. No flat tyres. The car has an amazing array of warning signals. In the handbook between page 27 and 34 it explains all the different lights that can indicate a problem. A light came on which signals that I should ‘initialise’ tyre pressure. The car did have a problem. I explained to Helvi that the noise of the car was not very nice and worrisome. However, she was still showing signs of mulling about the bin. (I had already agreed and capitulated to go for the stainless-steel bin) I know her well and she knows me. In time it would come good. For the moment she wasn’t talking and could not care less about the car’s tyre situation. I hoped her mood would swing back to her usual good cheer.

It did, but only after we had eaten the Bento-special.  It is a lovely combination of raw fish salmon with some rice and various bits of health, wrapped in sea-weed. Of course, in the mall itself, and the ‘food-court’  many people were seen grazing out of those beakers and polystyrene containers full of KFC’s abominable chicken nuggets while drinking Coke or slurping smoothies.You could tell the ones on KFC and the healthier Japanese-Korean take away, just by their body sizes.

When we got home I discovered a huge bolt complete with washer embedded in the middle of my front tyre. I did not take it out and waited for the NRMA to change the tyre. The kitchen is now adorned with a new gleaming stainless-steel bin. It is a 25 litre one and pedal operated.

All is good and peaceful again.

Sugar Tax? Yes, please.

January 28, 2019

Image result for sugar drinks

Even though Australia is one of the fattest countries in the world, it still obstinately refuses to seriously consider a tax on sugar including sugary drinks and sugary foods. Twenty eight countries so far have put a tax on sugar. Mexico, another country with enormously large people, introduced it in 2014. Seven US cities and several US states also introduced some form of penalty on sugar.

Anyone who has ever visited Australian shopping malls could not but have noticed the rapid increase in morbidly obese people. They also are getting younger. It is now not uncommon to see large swollen babies in prams being pushed by very obese parents. While there might be other contributing factors for this obesity epidemic, sugar certainly is one of them. Lack of exercise another one!

It is estimated the obesity problem is costing Australia 5.3 billion a year. Even a modest increase in the cost of sugar would return $ 500 million annually.

I could not have been prouder as a Dutch-born Australian than when Australia tackled and won a battle against the giants of the Cigarette and Tobacco industry. Australia was now leading the world. They gave us us a well deserved standing ovation. It was Julia Gillard and her minister, Nicola Roxon, who decided to  stand up for the health of its voters and won. It cost the Gillard Government almost 40 million to fight Phillip Morris.

Gillard and Roxon surely would have to be best politicians of all time. How many lives have they saved from the dreaded lung cancer? Why is this government so loath to follow suit? Thousands of people are getting diabetes of their addiction to sugar. The law to package cigarettes in Logo free and drab brown coloured packaging is helping to prevent and reduce smoking. Many countries including the European Union have followed Australia’s lead in controlling tobacco sales.

The same could be done with sugary drinks. Have them logo free and the liquid drab brown coloured. Put a tax on them equal to cigarettes and watch the shopping malls return to having a more svelte looking shopping crowd…

Of course there will always be large people around, and genetics, as with so much else, has a lot to do with that. This article is to do with the morbidly obese. People who are still walking around but are dying of obesity. Surely, a responsible government could follow so many countries that are now reaping the benefits of sugar tax and have a healthier population?

Sadly , our opposition, the Labor Party is opposed to a sugar tax and feel that personal choices should be made. But walking around, it is obvious that people’s healthy choices against the might of the sugar industry’s advertising might, fails miserably.

https://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2018-01-07/calls-for-a-sugar-tax-are-back-so-it-is-going-to-happen/9309386

 

 

A case made for change.

January 27, 2019

Image result for Power outages hit Melbourne, regional Victoria

With the present heat-wave seemingly continuing, it presses home climate change. People were shown on TV, cooking eggs on their car roofs. In one case someone was also baking butter-cookies on the bitumen road. The Government through radio and TV urged people to conserve energy, not use the washing machine, TVs, irons, and limit hot water. They feared electric outages. That fear was realised when in Victoria there were electric outages affecting 200.000 people for up to two hours. But, to start cooking on the top of cars or on the hot bitumen is not for the elderly. We can go without cookies or eggs for two hours. In any case, here in Bowral we had no outages and did not see any outdoor cooking by pensioners.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-01-25/extreme-heat-for-victoria-melbourne-hottest-day-in-a-decade/10748330

It is absolutely astonishing that in Australia with so much sun and wind, governments have neglected to provide for such a comparative small population enough energy to not run short during hot days or very cold days. One of the reasons is of course, that this government is of a horse and buggy era. They believe in a flat earth and chicken feather future telling. It is so neglectful I wonder if a court case could be mounted by a clever lawyer suing the government for neglect? People are dying out of climate change neglect, and the government is responsible.

All housing, with proper planning, could have double glazing and reverse-cycle air-conditioning as being part of standard construction. Dark roofs should be banned, especially in the hot northern states. I notice that seas of charcoal roofs on houses are spreading around Sydney’s outer edges. Are the inhabitants going to fry eggs on their roofs, or make a lamb-curry (with lots of turmeric) on the dark concrete driveway? Is this what Messrs. Dutton, Abbott, and Morrison want?

Anyway, folks. The end of being deprived by reasonable Governments is nigh. Ministers of the Liberals are lining up in resigning. The few women in this government have left of bullying by rogue males. Some wit wrote, ‘that the only woman left in parliament is Christopher Pine. Very witty, I thought. Let’s hope that the Liberals will be gone for at least ten years and that the Labour will fulfil at least the obligation to wholeheartedly fund renewable energy. It’s not rocket science. It is proving itself all over the world. We should be leading not lagging.

Australia Day.

January 24, 2019

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The 26th of January is the day when Australia celebrates its beginning or birth as some might call it. As the years go by, more people than ever want the date changed as a way in considering that it was also a date that started the beginning of a dreadful time for the indigenous people that lived here for tens of thousands of years. Captain Cook did not ‘discover’ Australia. Today, indigenous people still die earlier, are likely to be imprisoned at far greater numbers, and have much higher rates of suicides than white people. Their plight is still steeped in so much misery, and all that after so many decades of neglect! It is not surprising they see the celebration on 26th of January as an insult and couple it to a date that they see as an invasion of their country. Captain Cook did not ‘discover’ Australia. He merely started Australia as a penal colony for the British and from then Australia gave the aboriginals a terrible time.

It is also not surprising that our present PM Mr Scott Morrison, will have nothing to do to with changing this date that both, the white ‘invaders’ and the original Australians might agree to. Mr Morrison is now trying to whip us up in a national frenzy of flag waving and car tooting horns. He is proposing to spend millions of dollars to get a copy of the Captain Cook’s boat and sail it around Australia. He is hoping to revive national pride and a rise in his flagging popularity that will transcribe in a vote for his Liberal- National party at the next election in May.  Photos are now distributed of him surrounded by aboriginals all decked out in black and white and Mr Morrison holding a spear. He is currying favours showing he is a good friend of the aboriginals.

His hope in reviving this form of nationalism is in direct opposition of warnings that the world should concentrate on global issues and not go the way of the US in withdrawing from a global world and revelling in making a nation go in reverse, to make it ‘great again’.

If we go on celebrating this Captain Cook event, lets reflect that it was the Dutch that landed here before captain Cook and before the Dutch there were traders from other countries as well. If we are celebrating anything we should reflect 1973 when Australia finally discontinued with a ‘White Australian policy’ it was as racist as it could be. We barred coloured people from permanent residency till that date. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Australia_policy

Even today we still hold thousands of refugees in detention. If I had to nominate any one for honours on the 26th of January I would name Julian Burnside, the QC who has worked tirelessly in freeing the refugees on Nauru and Manus. He fights for Human Rights and Refugees.

What do you reckon, dear readers?

 

Leave love enough alone.(I wish I could have known.)

January 21, 2019
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https://secondhandsongs.com/work/113101
“The harbour’s misty in the morning love oh how I miss december
The frangipani opens up to kiss the salty air
I know you’re gettin’ ready for the office
I suppose he’s still there, with you
Sharing our morning sun
Winter in America is cold
And I just keep growing older
I wish I could have known
enough of love to have love enough alone
I ‘ve learned something of love
I wish I’d known before you left me
But it’s funny how you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone
And I hope you ‘ re getting all the love you ever wanted
But I wish I was there with you
Sharing our… “
These are the lyrics of a song named “Winter in America is cold.”  Also known as “Leave love enough alone.” The song was written by a man named Jimmy Stewart. We used to know him quite well during the  seventies till the nineties. Our children were young and life was starting to fire up very nicely. The memories of that period are filled with sun, laughter and growing trees. The inner Sydney suburb of Balmain was groovy and Carole King was on the ascent with her song “It’s too late.’
It was also the period of turning green and not waste, a turn against obscene wealth was starting to grow. We spoke of terminal capitalism! A vegie co-op was established and some ten couples would contribute $10 weekly each for which a trip would be made to Sydney’s vegetable markets by alternating couples to buy all the vegetables including fruit. The lot would be shared and put into 10 boxes. One box per couple. Jimmy Stewart and his then partner were one of the ten couples. Jimmy and I would go to this market when it was our turn. Jimmy was a writer of songs and the best known was the “Winter in America.” It was a mild hit in the US but in Netherland became top of the charts for a while. The song was covered by several artists but the Australian Dough Ashdown’s version is by far the best known.
We stayed in contact with Jimmy Stewart for some years. Music was his life and he was uncompromising in this. He had a range of partners and smoked and drank heartily. Last time I heard of him was yet another marriage, and a move to the blue mountains but that is some years ago now.
Here is “Winter in America.”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yEjZmjYENOk