Archive for the ‘Gerard Oosterman’ Category

Iceberg Rose and Forget me Nots

October 22, 2021

While walking has offered escape from endless lockdowns, gardening or maintaining a garden is also high on the list of surviving life during the unprecedented rules of ‘stay home and avoid others’. I have done both although on hindsight, walking has been used the most. With walking there is the chance of meeting other lockdowners also determined to try and get a glance or word or so from other humans still alive. If one combined walking and having a dog on a lead one is almost certain to come across another survival driven human.

Of course, gardening is also very good in avoiding spiritual dehydration during a period when walking isn’t so possible or in my case, I had a fall and thought to take it easy for a few days. I had an Rontgen photo taken of both left leg and right arm just to make sure. No damage not even a hairline crack. I vaguely remember having taken a bone density test some years ago and all was honkey dory.

So, back to gardening and despite having tried for many decades, a rose has yet to appear on all those roses we planted. No matter how we cared, fertilized or prayed for rose, none ever were produced. However, last year I saw a lovely Iceberg rose at the local nursery and bought and planted it forthright, willing to beat providence and grow roses. I mean, which old man or woman should be denied to grow roses at their final fling at life, double vaccinated and all!

So this year, and the second spring I looked at my Iceberg almost on a daily basis. It was growing very nicely and I even now am having high expectations. However, looking at gardens on my walk with Bentley, I noticed many roses profusely flowering. Still, I lived in optimistic fervor, especially after having given it a dose of Potash. Potash is the holy grail for Iceberg Rose.

Lo and behold this morning I discovered two very small white Iceberg flowers. Can you see them?

IMG_2722 Iceberg Rose

The magic Iceberg Rose.

The next bit of horticultural effort was dealing with an overabundance of Forget Me Nots. I never realized that when they seed they get into everything especially into dog’s coats. Bentley was covered in them and it took hours of brushing to get rid of them. I pulled all of the forget me Nots out and bagged them into 4 large black plastic rubbish bags, what a job! It’s funny how I was always attracted to a flower that calls itself ‘Forget me Not’. I mean, who can resist a name like that? Yet, so treacherous as it grows so fast and turns into weeds. The serenity of my garden is now lovely to behold and I often just sit and look at it from inside. I don’t need TV or even books. I love looking at this small peace of green heaven with 4 birch trees, 3 maples, two Manchurian pear and 1 American Redwood which I have been told grows to such size it will lift our whole community of 10 dwellings up and down by its roots alone.  


Forget me Nots

6 Hours or more per week.

October 13, 2021

IMG_1263lake Alexandra

We, in Australia are now reaping the benefits of a prolonged Lockdown. There is a gradual lifting but visiting friends and family in Sydney is still not allowed. I am sorry if this subject is a repeat of previous tales on this blog, but so be it. Lockdowns has been the major occupation for not just me, but for millions of people. The benefits have been that a comparative few victims per capita have suffered in Australia compared with the rest of the world, but we also now have had the distinction of two cities with a world record time for lockdowns. Perhaps we will yet get a critical review on this record in time to come.


I am still in a kind of lockdown, still unable to visit Sydney to see friends or family although one visit was surreptitiously sneaked in to see my daughter under the exemption based on compassionate grounds. Even this visit was done with some trepidation as some better equipped than me in the art of understanding the complication of Governmental Stay Locked Orders, felt that my visit could be seen as opportunistic and that I should also at least keep myself in a fortnight of self-isolation on my return.

And it is this self-isolation that I am now so much in awe off. Get a bit closer to the screen and I will tell you the reasons of this self-awe-ness. As you know I am living by myself together with Bentley, an irresistible Tibetan-Spaniel dog and good companion. Apart from Bentley and my twice daily walks, my main other event is the coffee sipping at the famous Bradman cricket café in Bowral. They last till all our words have been said, and the coffee has been drunk. That’s usually an hour or so, and then we leave with a ‘see you tomorrow’. And that’s that then for the day. That’s been about all the social contact I had over three months now and continuing. Roughly seven or eight hours a week of human contact. It’s not much, but better than nothing.

IMG_2472 three wise ducks

I take my cap off in the mirror and am proud of this achievement of still being in a reasonable state of mind. Of course, there have been bits of small talk in the supermarket and the cashier girls and boys always let me ‘have a nice day’. Then on my dog walks, there are many who will ask about Bentley, questioning his age and how nice he looks and exchanges of that nature, the ducks quack in a friendly matter and even the black snake last week looked friendly and non threatening.

Thank goodness for the iPhone and internet. I am not strong in TV watching and somehow feel the aloneness more while watching TV. Bentley is not all that verbal when a particular show such as the Queen’s Gambit makes me utter commentary to a room filled with quietness. As for TV news, the Covid numbers and fatalities are the main bulk of news and does not really fill the hollowness of the days…

All in all, with my gardening and friends on the internet and iPhone I am proud of having survived these over 110 days so far on about an hour a day of human contact.

Of course, nothing unique. many are doing the same.

A spectacular Fall,

October 5, 2021

IMG_2318 bentley


It has often be stated by doctors that hospitalizations of the elderly are for a large part due to falling. Well, this morning I seemed to have at a minimum reached the age of falling down. So far I never considered to even see myself as aged. True, I have often walked past an institution that is as British/Australian as an outdoor windblown dunny in the back-lane. And it is called The Senior Citizen’s Association or sometimes Club. It is so much senior that I always quickly walk past. The curtains are drawn solid and they are so grimly uninviting that one really would have reached the age of having lost the will to go on. I sometimes got a glean to the inside when someone dares to open a door and one sees little vases of plastic flowers akimbo laminex tables with splayed legs, so aged and forlorn looking that they are begging to be put out of their misery and strangled on the spot.

This morning was like most mornings. My newly acquired dog Bentley let it be known it was walk time after first tapping me on the bed to tell me to get up and not linger. I got dressed had the obligatory banana and cup of tea with milk and two sugars. He gets restless and this reaches its peak when I put my scarf, coat and hat on. When I get his lead he neatly sits down and allows me to slide it over his head but then bolts to the door, eager beaver that he is. We both bolt outside and at first will pull for hell and leather. He is besides himself and such a joy to behold. We strode out of our complex and started our walk which with him is at first the sniffing of both left and right nature grass strips of the latest dogs previous passing. Bentley has a kind of way that he lingers which makes me think he reads the latest happenings, a newspaper or editorial, left against trees, poles and grasses. He then replies and articulate that by lifting either left leg or right, sometimes both but not simultaneously. That would be impossible.

Anyway, is was after about a hundred meters or so of endless sniffing that some interesting smell or message pulled Bentley across from me while my attention was further ahead and not down to the terra firma at my feet. Bentley’s crossed my legs and his lead tangled my legs. I fell backwards unceremoniously without any further ado. Totally involuntary and without restraint. I haven’t fallen so spectacular since the 5th of Nov 1963 . (I remember it well, I was in Tirolerland, Austria, when skiing and meeting my future wife Helvi who wiped my bloodied face)

IMG_0900 knitting

I fell, not on snow this time but on an unforgiving concrete pathway. I remember cars coming to a halt but I was furious with Bentley, you rotten dog, who after all that love, treats and patting, tried to bolt. Quick as a flash I put my left leg forward and held it down on his leash. He knew the game was up and came to me, all apologetic and contrite. I managed to get up and held on to the leash and felt alright. No broken bones or bloodied face. A man across the road asked if I was alright which was nice of him. I said that I felt alright and continued my walk.

I am convinced that my time for the Senior Citizen’s club hasn’t arrived yet. We shall see!

Fair crack of the whip.

September 26, 2021

“The expression fair crack of the whip is used elsewhere but is recorded earliest in Australia, from 1902 onwards. It means ‘an equitable opportunity; a reasonable chance’. It is also used as an interjection, meaning ‘give (someone) a chance!’. In Australian English there are several variants of this idiom, all with the same meaning. They can be found in written sources from the 1980s, but probably go back some years earlier.

In the variant fair suck of the sauce bottle (with its elliptical form fair suck), the ‘sauce bottle’ is probably originally a reference to a bottle of alcoholic liquor”. 

The above quote is from Wiki.

My own interpretation dates to much earlier times when convicts sent from England graced our shores and were known to receive whippings by their masters ( the squattocracies’ ) that were finely balanced between sheer brutality and a more benign lashing. Hence, giving ‘A fair crack of the whip’.

All this in reference to the fact that Melbourne’s Lockdown period now outlasts that of Argentine’s Buenos Aires. For some six days now groups have tried to disrupt the Lockdown by Unlocking and face the streets openly and brazenly in defiance of orders to wear facemasks and not congregate in groups of more than two people. Scores have been arrested and hefty fines imposed .

My own experience makes me at times have some sympathy with the rioters which the government and media have been painting as extreme right wings pro-Nazis. They have avoided the previous popular slant of Nigerian street gangs as footage showed hundreds of police and many horses but not a coloured person in sight. As for Nazis, the only signs I have seen were ”Freedom , anti vaccination’, and I believe in Jesus, but not in vaccinations.”

The Government is desperate to hold the line but as a single person living by myself I feel enough is enough. The lockdown was supposed to be for a short time. My definition of short is, of little length, limited or short duration. In Melbourne it is now heading into its forth month. That is long, too long. It is supposed to save lives but the Delta still spreading, and now it is not saving lives that was the aim previously but to get double vaccinated which would have occurred weeks ago if the government had taken the trouble in ordering the vaccines when they became available. I haven’t seen my daughter, grandchildren or partner for over three months, despite being double vaccinated for well over 5 weeks. There are supposed to be exemptions on ”compassionate grounds” but the reality is different as the rules are only applicable when living within 5 km and if returning to my area, 100 km away, I would then have to self-isolate for 14 days.

It is complicated but it doesn’t feel like ” A fair crack of the whip”

Australia sharing US bathtub of pyrotechnical toys.

September 19, 2021

IMG_2472 three wise ducks

Back in in 1956 we thought we were escaping the aftermath of wars and conflict and bade farewell to Europe still smoldering and smarting from two world wars. Soon after arriving we did sense that the main influence in Australia was that of America. It’s sprawling architecture and above all the commercialization of almost everything possible and saleable. My dad could not get over the abundance of ugly signage portrayed on almost everything capable of supporting signs. Suburban shops lining the strips often next to railway lines or main roads were groaning with signs and everything was sign-written in the most garish colors as ‘special’. At one stage a locally produced car The Holden was named Special.

After a while we got used to it together with the endless advertisements hailing the benefits of all sorts of headache powders. Indeed looking at old photographs one has no trouble seeing buses and trains advertising Bex powders and Vincent APC. which in those days had phenacetin to give it an extra bite but also damaging the kidneys of tens of thousands of people, especially women who became addicted. They were advertised as giving one a lift in wellbeing. We wondered why headaches were so common and accepted as normal. It was supposed to be all happy and sundrenched.

We got on with turning into Australians as good as any but of course also retained proudly our own heritage excluding the horrors of conflict and bombs.  However through the decades it became clear that Australia seemed to be drawn to the American way of things to a point that no matter what conflict or wars the US engaged in, Australia was keen to nurture those wars by slavishly sending in their troops as well. True we are part of alliances although also often claiming sovereignty. We followed the US to war in Vietnam,  Iraq, Afghanistan. All now looked back upon as totally wasteful and unnecessary.

But, still we keep on repeating he same with now ordering nuclear underwater boats.  Bowing to the US again and what for? We could be the Switzerland of the Pacific , remain friendly with everyone. Be a go-between if tensions arise between different countries. The aim in ordering those boats is to threaten China. Why do that? Businesses are queueing up to enter China and do business. Hundreds of thousands of Europeans and Americans are now living in China, not wishing to miss out on the excitement that is unfolding in China. We are totally out of whack with the reality of the unfolding of history.

It is China’s turn. Nothing will stop that.

IMG_2474 Spring

A strong woman Prime Minister

September 13, 2021

This was published 8 years ago and seen 4.333.661 times Febr 7 / 2020

Transcript of Julia Gillard’s speech

Julia Gillard made an impassioned speech against Tony Abbott's motion to remove Peter Slipper as Speaker.
Julia Gillard made an impassioned speech against Tony Abbott’s motion to remove Peter Slipper as Speaker.

A mask wearing man punch-up and Tulip time

September 12, 2021

We know that tempers get frayed when the Covid restriction are pushing people to the limit. We all have our breaking points. Each morning I get woken up by my new friend, Bentley. He taps the matrass till I open my eyes after which he prances about clearly signaling he won’t stop till I get out of bed. Almost stern nurse-like; ‘time to get up and do your bathroom routines Mr Oosterman’! After dressing he continues his fanatic pushing which culminates in a swirling dervish type performance only relieved when I fasten the lead and go for our walk.

IMG_2298 bentley

Bentley on guard.

This morning like most mornings I walk past a busy Bread shop, the Chelsea Baker proudly displayed on a hanging sign dangling from the overhead awning. I usually take a rest on a wooden bench on the side of the footpath and combine it with texting a message to my girlfriend in Sydney as well as giving Bentley a rest at the same time. Out of the blue I heard someone saying ‘mask’ and noticed a man putting on a mask before entering the shop’. Apparently, this upset another man entering and out of nothing he pinned another customer against the wall with his arm against the mask wearing man’s neck. ‘ How dare you’, he shouted. The threat of violence was real. However, that was about all that happened. The attacker left and I surmise he had some experience in manhandling the man by pinning him against the wall and having his arm across his throat, all within a split second. It looked like something out of a Coen Brothers movie.

The easy going tolerant Aussi is becoming frayed and it doesn’t take much for tempers to boil over. I also suppose that the handling of all this Covid restrictions has been a bit too strict and dogmatic, no leeway at all and the involvement of soldiers in army uniforms was brutally insensitive. Why not have the army helping out but in normal civilian clothes? What do you think ethnic groups having escaped from brutal oppressive regimes, would think being approached by uniformed soldiers? And the Government actually encouraging people to dob each other in. Geez, that did not sit well with me.

Anyway, tulips as always make all the difference and my Dutch ethnicity plays no minor role in the yearly display of tens of thousands of tulips all over the Highlands but especially in Bowral.

In the Bowral tulip park also lives a really gigantic Himalayan Cedar tree. I took a photo which doesn’t give it much credit, but it will have to do. I am very pleased with my iPhone doubling as camera. It can even take videos. The latest series of electronic gadgets leave me dumbfounded. There are now Iphones that have two screens and which can be split and used hands-free. Why would you have something that leaves you hand free. Would it not be just as good to leave the split iPhone at home or in in the handbag if you need to do something with your hands? I don’t get it.

The mind boggles.

Himalayan Cedar tree

Land ahoy, or the end of Lockdown.

September 8, 2021

The figures are dazzling


The figures on new infections,  number of deaths, those in hospital and those in Intensive Care  Units with a finale of those under ventilators followed by a dazzling display of high tech visuals giving stretched-out a moving image of green lines across a blackboard backdrop of both single and double vaccinations are given in daily front line news. There is no escape and we are locked-downed into this while wearing masks and staying the distance between humans that still move on legs.  

There was a moment whereby the news would shift away from all those numbers and graphs when the Taliban (Afghan people) took control of Taliban Country ( Afghanistan). Alas it did not take long for the news to revert again to the previous diet of pandemics presented by sweaty newsreaders and beady eyed politicians. Not a sliver of positivity was allowed to enter the news and even the Paralympics did not really cut through the thickness of Covid and stretched out patients with blaring ambulance’s sirens. Still, the Afghanistan and Paralympic diversion was nice while it lasted

In the meantime the parks are full of people walking their dogs and children. The proliferation of tricycles and mopeds a noticeable addition to the usual tangle of dog leads and poop filled garbage containers which the councils had the foresight to enhance the public parks with. Our way of dealing with dog droppings would have to be the best in the world as well as our civic obedience in accepting lockdowns week in-week out, months in – months out. A remarkable example of the normally anti-authoritarian Aussi. Almost overnight dogshit has left our footpaths and public areas and no one bats an eyelid watching the melancholic task of a dog owner carefully wetting his fingers and opening the plastic bag, turning it inside out and then stoop down to deftly pick up the shit and reverse the procedure under the curious and watchful eye of the dog, and carry the filled bag to home or the nearest garbage bin. The dog must really be pleased how he managed to train the owner so well

IMG_1263lake Alexandra

Anyway, the end of lockdowns will now happen when between 70 and 80 % of people including children above 12 years have been fully vaccinated, which is projected to be around the middle of November. In the meantime my strategy is to continue walking and walking, talking with my friends at the local Bradman Cricket oval. A world famous oval as shown by the busloads of Pakistanis , Indians Afghanis and many other cricket loving tourists that came here by the thousands during the pre Covid era.

I wonder if there will be any sort of  post Lockdown effect or hangover. Will some people need counselling to get used being close to others again, able to converse and use speech and gestures needed to renew social intercourse. Have some of us become addicted to ‘keeping space and away from each other’? We are told that masks will probably stay. Oceans already are awash with plastic and no doubt those blue mouth masks being discarded in our sewage and on the streets will find themselves being entangled in turtles and fish, mammals and wash up on our shores. How long does it take for those masks to disintegrate?

Covid has a lot to answer for but the end is nigh.

Mikis Theodorakis and Greece

September 4, 2021

The composer

The Composer of world renown, Mikis Theodorakis has passed away and I morn his departure. Most of us know him as the composer of the music in the films Zorba the Greek and the thriller Z. 

He was also a staunch defender of freedom and strongly opposed the military Junta for which he was jailed several times. I put here an interpretation of his music by our own indigenous dancers which I keep on posting because I think it is such a marvelous video to watch and admire.

They performed in many places including The Art Gallery of NSW, but this is the original version of it and in my opinion the best one.

My memories of Greece are of the same time as the birth of the Theodorakis song and dance Zorba, and it was during our trip by boat to Australia in 1966 that we landed in Athens (Piraus) during summer. It was hot and we had booked the obligatory tour of Athens including of course the Parthenon and the Temple of Zeus.



Here we are looking rather blasé or ‘cool’ walking through the Parthenon’s stone rubble. I doubt that today one could get that close to it. Some years before I visited the pyramid of Cheops in Egypt and I and other tourists could actually crawl deep inside the pyramid and stand in the Queen’s chamber, Amazing.


Here we are about 1973, in Holland where I worked as an artist and teacher. The little girl om the left is Natasha who has from yesterday resumed living in Balmain again near the water, after having moved from a place which she did not feel home in. It is a strange thing this feeling of ‘home’, not easily defined but you know instantly when you do. Many people define a home by the standard of the kitchen including the shape of taps, double sinks or the number of build-ins in the bedrooms. 


The above is our first home around 1970 with our late daughter Susanna on the phone. All the walls had been stripped out to make a spacious living area. Note the small b/w TV with real buttons, on and off, channels, and soft or loud.! Modern TVs now come with a remote control with everything possible except simplicity of how to work it out!

It’s funny how the dullness of indefinite lockdowns start to wake up memories of the good times.  There is a palpable kind of fatigue setting in. You can tell walking the streets. People avert eye contact. It is all so laden with virus fear. The numbers of dead and infections at 11 am sharp om the TV doesn’t make for excitement ahead. Does It?

Lockdown trivial joys, stay busy.

August 24, 2021



With lockdowns gripping people all over the world in its solemn icy journey , counsellors and those trained to keep us away from gloomy thought must be booked for decades to come. Who would have thought  thousands of police hand in hand with battle ready soldiers scanning the streets in case someone might be freely and blissfully aimlessly walking about?

Masks must be worn and the fines are stiff for open uncovered faces, as are being with more than two people gathering. The park benches are taped over in case someone has the temerity to use them and actually sit down. People are spying on each other and any music indicating there could be feet shuffling about with some joyous dancing could easily result in one being bundled in the back of the Paddy-wagon. But spare a thought for the hapless single person?


I might not yet have reached the stage of ‘haplessness’ but I do  definitely qualify for living the life of being single. My true love is far away and in similar lockdown situation running now in it’s ninth week. We can’t travel and meet up. Can you believe it?  If the dreaded Lockdown, goes on much longer we could well be nudging the ‘hapless’ criteria.  How does it feel to be without ‘hap’ and how does it relate to this Lockdown?  ( I copy from Wik “without hap”—hap being another word for fortune or luck. … English has several words to describe those lacking good fortune, including ill-starred, ill-fated, unlucky, and luckless, hapless is one of them”

The lockdown severely limits interaction and goes against everything that we are supposed to engage in to keep us sane and into maintaining the good ‘hap’.  Meeting friends, talking, laughing, crying, touching, fighting, loving and many other activities are so much better shared with others and now this Lockdown prevents most of those emotion being expressed to others. The benefits were supposed to be of short and sharp duration and that it would curb the spread of Covid, but with a new strain popping up, Lockdowns became the toys of the medical toffy boys who now give us a diet of expert opinions each day on TV and lots of Lockdowns to come.

IMG_2299 bentley


I am at times  when I sit in a chair having exhausted my reasonably wide oeuvre of things to do  (to keep busy trying to escape feelings of haplessness), this could include cooking,  vacuuming, stroking the dog ( Bentley) switching heaters on and off, making a cup of tea, texting friends, washing up, changing the bed sheets, knitting, writing bits and treats. Going to Aldi or Bunnings. But sometimes when all that has been used up and one is empty, an almost hypnotic feeling comes over me where I am awake but hardly conscious, sitting in my chair. Is is the much sought after Buddhist feeling of nothingness coming over me? I then find myself wondering if I should get up and move the cup to the sink, or cover my foot of which the slipper has dropped off, should I put my coat on the chair, take an impromptu shower?. And then suddenly the day has moved yet another hour forward, all of its own volition. 

I wonder if others are experiencing similar feelings, and is it Lockdown syndrome?