Archive for the ‘Gerard Oosterman’ Category

Jam berapa? ( what time) and the Mexican Fuchsia.

August 5, 2020

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Fuchsia Splendens

There is nothing like the expiration date on food labels that makes one focus on the possibility of getting oneself a bit expired or stale, let alone going off altogether. One really ought to consider going for a practice run to the funeral parlour, lay across the counter and yell ‘shop’! Perhaps glance through the casket catalogue, pick a suitable comfy softly lined coffin. These are terrible times!

Of course, the other alternative to this gloomy and somewhat negative reflection on this otherwise sunny morning is the thought of yet a lifetime of years beckoning ahead. There is nothing unusual of centenarians still whooping it up. I watched a short video of an elderly couple in their nineties jiving around the place. It doesn’t do me much good and I generally stay clear of those kind of depressing prompts to go and jig around the place. There is nothing more discouraging than old people pretending to be younger. People should be their age and I love the sound of tapping sticks and whirring by of mobility scooters. I am on the cusp of turning eighty and now too part of this brave lot of people. I always though old was someone being fifteen years older than me. Now am  fifteen years older than me and have arrived!

Also, have reached the age when people might start saying,  ‘you are looking well today’! The emphasis on ‘today’ would be a worry but they mean well. I certainly don’t think of any age but that might be a common refrain used by those sad men who cling to the wish of taut midriffs and bulging biceps. Getting out of the shower with open eyes is really as good as going to those earlier confession with Father Murphy, but not advisable for any octogenarian irrespective of spiritual bends, unless one takes the mirror down. Any idea of romance or dalliance gets instantly a drooping down and was a waste of the previous caressing, encouraging and soothing warm waters.  I must re-read Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Picture of Dorian Grey’.

It is no good reflecting on time or years. Remembering a wise Balinese man telling us that time (jam) is of little use in Bali. Indeed, at the many  times we were there, it baffled me that the Balinese were totally free of time constrictions. They had no clocks, or wore watches. Tourists were running about all tense, tapping their watches, with faces contorted in case they were missing out on something. Festivals are a big part of daily life in Bali. In fact their life is celebrated without apparent time constraints. When asked what time?  (berapa jam) a Balinese dance performance would start, the inevitable answer would be ‘perhaps soon’.

As for the Mexican Fuchsias. (Fuchsia Splendens). A frost had decimated a lot of plants at one of Australia’s major hardware stores named ‘Bunnings’. I love this store and could easily spend whole week-ends there. It is a treasure trove of tools, gadgets, shelves of locks and wooden things, including rolls of totally unrecognisable materials and many over-excited customers.  I saw a woman once with a large spanner wearing a T-shirt with, ‘I’ll do you’. Going through Bunnings is as good a mental aphrodisiac as a  stroll around Amsterdam. Bunnings is a Nirvana for the insatiable curious. On top of that they have barbequed sausages on Saturdays to raise funds for Police clubs or the Elderly (That’s us).

Well, through the frost and plant damaged stock, I managed to rescue the half frozen Mexican Fuchsias that are not only very beautiful when fully grown, but also provide the worlds best tasting and most desirable berries. I was so lucky to get them and the above photo shows how well they have fared since I bought and nursed them back to robust health. It is also nice and reassuring that the flowers are bi-sexual and with axillary, pendulous armpits in the distal armpits.

I’ll think of that next time I eat their berries.

The fascinating tale of the apprentice teetotaller.

August 1, 2020

Teetotallers on the rise: Why are young people drinking less than ...

The uncorking of the Shiraz usually heralded the end of long noontides for me and perhaps many of us. The beginning of the late afternoon arrived with a predictable ritual that stood the test of time over many decades. The comfortable chair beckons in perfect sync with the sun lowering its burnished lashes in a final blaze of golden amber. Wine- time had made its much cherished entree in my household over many decades. I can’t think of a time when an afternoon and evening would pass without this delightful airing of the bottled nectar for saints and sinners alike.

It doesn’t discriminate or pretend, and is totally moral to its faithful imbibers in its almost childlike innocence. My own choice was for a drink made from grapes. Others, I believe, get this same pleasure from the fermentations of wheat and flowing waters of the Scottish Highlands or anything that through the art of experts who studied alchemy, and conjured up fermented liquids that seemed to temporarily heighten the pleasures of  dull moments that fill most of our lives. I have yet to enjoy vacuuming, eat vegemite or pay gas bills.

If the reader noticed the past tense of the above yet to be written opus on my decision to an apprenticeship in teetotalling together, and at the same time, admit my admiration for alcohol and its glorious history of joy and its polished and burnished pleasures derived from the fruit of the land, it is due to my decision to break this ritual and start another one.

There is no reasonable logical explanation how this decision was reached. Perhaps the closest I can justify it might be that the ritual was becoming somewhat sated and as predictable as  paying gas bills or vacuuming. There was no flash of insight or a harping angel beckoning me to stop. There was this ritual of getting up to get the bottle, uncap it and then pour the drink in a glass. As I said, mine was a Shiraz and my late wife Helvi, a dry white. We both loved it and had decades together of happy sipping and quaffing.  Those sweet memories are so sustaining now.

After I became a single and widowed man I continued this habit and made sure I never was without. Day in day out, the afternoon would arrive and I would sit and sip, sit and sip, till four nights ago I had the epiphany. It struck me as odd for someone who prided himself on making life as interesting as possible accepting this ritual of drinking red liquid every day. Of course, I also take my pyjamas off every day, not a pretty sight, shower solemnly, and make my breakfast on whole seeded bread (every day). One slice with cheese and one slice with berry jam from Aldi.

I broke the habit this morning with keeping my pyjamas on while having breakfast. I also defied the bread with cheese and jam. Out of the blue I had two boiled eggs, just like that! I wanted to make the start of the day a bit more interesting.  A bit more verve really. Of course, I took my pyjamas off after the egg episode and the day progressed normally. I had my coffee at the local cricket café with friends and without cricket talk. A habit that I will continue hopefully for years to come.

And that breaking of habits is the closest reason I can come to. No other that I can think off. I am baffled myself, but there you are. One has to make a life as good as possible. I am now facing the fifth afternoon without the lure of the crimson nectar. I sleep soundly, and if anything with less toilet breaks during the night, which is a blessing. The garden is starting to respond to longer days and I will soon be able to show you the flowering grape hyacinths and irises.

I gave up smoking too, when in 1994 the time had come to chuck the habit. I only managed to do this by making the promise to smoke again when turning 65. Of course, after turning 65 I had lost the urge to smoke. I sometimes think how it would be to light up again. Would I like it or get addicted again? I sure was hooked to that one. I remember well that first puff of a new cigarette. It too was ritualistic, fingering the ciggy, holding it, delaying the lighting and then finally, that first glorious puff and holding it for a few seconds. And then the delight of blowing the smoke skywards. It was so lovely.

Is Spam going to make a come-back? Just look at my delicious Spam sandwich

July 26, 2020

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Meat factories and churches together with aged-care homes are now producing many clusters of Covid-19. At the beginning of the virus in March or so there was an outbreak of shoppers converging on rolls of toilet paper at supermarkets. It even came to fights over toilet paper. Scuffles broke out, and security guards were called in to stem toilet paper riots and they quickly restored order. Guns in holsters have an amazing calming effect amongst law abiding shoppers. It is with glee that I read that no one was allowed to return hoarded toilet paper, not even a single roll. Some formed gangs that would go around buying up as much toilet paper as possible. They were hoping to corner the market and make a killing.  There must be many a home bulging to the rafters with toilet paper!

While I still don’t understand the love of toilet paper during a crisis, unless some are privy to using it to fill or firm up stews or a pasta sauce, I was busy stocking up some food. I bought noodles, rice and flour reckoning they could keep me in reasonable health during a prolonged lock-down. However I also was delighted still to remember in my increasingly misty mind-storage bin our past relationship with the much revered corned Salted Pork and hAM cans. I believe that the word of that product SPAM came from that abbreviation of mix of food.

The history of that product is legendary. Even Nikita Khrushchev declared that his soldiers would never haven gotten though the war without SPAM. It was a good source of food. The air-raids above Holland towards the end of WW2 by the British delivered tons of that delicious Spam, hence the name ‘Spam raids.’ I can still see my dad running  on a field towards the dropped food cans. He did not score Spam but instead a large tin of very hard but nutritious biscuits that one soaked in warm water, Gee, what a treat they were too. I still shudder when I see modern kids throwing half their food and drinks away.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spam_(food)

While I did not end up buying Spam and instead chose the Corned beef variety it still has that gelatinous feel and look about it. A kind of fond war memory, seeing it saved thousands of people from starvation. The little key on the side is still there and what happy memories well up while turning that little key to unlock and deliver that lovely mushy characteristic odorous meaty mixture from its steel container.

So, today, being a very rainy Sunday and with the news endlessly about the Virus I thought up a nice Spam sandwich. I embellished the corned mushy mixture after slowly, ever so slowly turning the key to get the full entertainment out of this long revered and longed for food by adding some rocket, lettuce, onion, and tomato to it. I then topped in with some Havarti cheese.

What a beautiful sandwich it turned out to be. It made this gloomy Sunday turn into a feast to behold.

Come, join me and try it out.

The compulsion to vote or the freedom not to?

July 21, 2020

Civic Culture Coalition: Entertainment Industry-Backed ...

On my morning’s coffee, tête-à-têtes (some with masks) with friends at Bowral Cricket Stumps cafe I was surprised to hear that many thought the law on compulsory voting was normal and mainly world-wide. I pointed out that the list of countries with compulsory voting on punishment made Australia mixed with some strange company.

Here a list of countries with compulsory voting enforceable by punishment.

Australia, Argentina, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Lichtenstein, Luxembourg, Nauru, NORTH KOREA, Samoa, Singapore, Uruguay.

The rest of he world is free to vote or not. Some have compulsory voting but not enforced s a Egypt, Albania, Turkey, Thailand, Mexico.

While one of the freedoms of democracy is that we can eat and drink what we like, including copious Cokes, and kilos of sugar, fat, apples and much more. We have total freedom to take or leave it. We also have freedom of speech, press and so much more again. We are loaded with freedoms. Yet it strikes me as odd that we do not have that freedom when it comes to voting. We are not free not to vote.  Most of the world’s democratic countries leave voting to, hopefully a well informed population. America does not have compulsory voting , they have a ‘right’ to vote but also the freedom not to vote. They also have a ‘right’ to bear arms but no one is forced to use those arms. ( sometimes it seem like it with 40 000 killed annually by this ‘right’.)

Disgruntled Voter (@jasondulak) | Twitter

An argument against voluntary voting is that it makes people politically lazy and uninterested. That does not bear out either.

Here copied from ‘The Advocate’. During the (second) last federal election.

“New polling by Essential absolutely belled the cat on this phenomenon.

It asked respondents if they knew who the federal treasurer was, without looking it up.

More than one third (36 per cent) did not know it was Scott Morrison.

Thirteen per cent thought it was ex-treasurer Joe Hockey, 3 per cent thought it was Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen and 20 per cent said they did not know.

With no disrespect to the 36 per cent, why should they be forced to the polling booth if they don’t  take enough interest to know who holds the second most important role in the government?”

I was surprised that at my café group most thought that compulsory voting was normal and all over the world, and fiercely opposed the idea that it perhaps ought to be choice. Patriotic feathers were ruffled. When asked if I thought it essential to have compulsory voting I said I did not believe it. My backgrounds and that of my dearest late Helvi, ( The Netherlands and Finland) are from very staunch democratic and liberal countries. We grew up with the freedom to vote or not.

To punish people for not voting strikes me as odd.

Of course, a disclaimer; I vote with passion at every possible election. Gerard.

 

The Lockdown but not in art.

July 15, 2020

People must be getting so frustrated with the Corona virus. The word Corona belies the horrible truth it holds. The word itself flows so nicely and is so perfectly balanced with equal consonants and vowels. It really did not strike fear when I first heard it pronounced. Now, it holds the world at ransom but what can one do?

On reflection about the debilitating Corona pandemic I decided to again change the scroll because for a long time I have been looking for a wall where I could hang a very large painting I did back in the time when large paintings were normal. Australia is a large country and has so much space. It is not surprising that artists produce large paintings here in this wide open country of ours. Mind you, Mr Van Rijn did a similar large painting called The ‘Nightwatch’.

Rembrandt van Rijn Night Watch Painting Art Wall Print POSTER UK

My own and much more modest but large painting has been looking for a wall since it was created but sadly spent many decades searching but ended just resting against  walls and till now, never was hung.

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My large painting before going to be hung.

Unfortunately ,even though I now finally found a wall for it,  moving the painting was not easy. It is larger than a Queen size bed. Readers might remember that the configuration of my stairs would not allow my bed to go upstairs. I bought a slatted bed in a flat pack instead but did manage to wriggle the mattress upstairs.

The painting is even larger than a bed and stubbornly refused tot go upstairs.  I had to partially take the canvas of its stretcher to lessen the width of it. This was a tedious job with taking out dozens of staples in order to peel back the canvas from its wooden stretcher. It even then would refuse to go upstairs and I had to cut across a batten as well, hence the hand-saw in the picture below.

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Of course, this wall was already occupied by my scroll of etchings but the scroll and the large painting could not be on the same wall. I had no option but to get back on the large ladder and remove the scroll and suspended it on the opposite wall. It was not easy. It looks good there but the change has taken away the previous pleasure of having to bow before it in due obeisance to the art of my etchings. A friend of mind thought some of the etchings were ‘rude’, ‘it has fannies’, this friend said. And another one shows a couple cavorting as well, the friend added.

 

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I looked but did not really see that. Perhaps I lost the concentration on ‘fannies’ some time ago, and as for cavorting, it was always ridiculous and for mature people, sound of mind and some even with wisdom, to put themselves in such physical contortions in order to grind groins together is laughable, let alone for someone nudging 80. Who thought all that up?

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The painting was reassembled and has now been hung and it looks magnificent. The scroll is on the other side.

 

 

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Left side of painting

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Right side of painting

It is so large that an iPhone camera can’t  possibly capture it in one shot. I will try and make a video if that helps. Of course having escaped falling of the ladder I don’t want to end up rolling down the stairs taking the photo! I can’t get enough distance to get the whole painting in one photo.

I am so happy. The painting finally found a wall.

 

 

 

The scroll of etchings and all things nude and nature.

July 7, 2020

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-07-06/my-brain-on-nature-healing-sarah-allely/12266522

We all know the healing effects of nature and that being away from nature can be very damaging. But, how damaged can we get being away from art? Of course, almost everything that give one a feeling of wonderment or surprises, delights or gives us new insight probably can be accepted as art. The dictionary describes art as the creation of works of beauty but then also adds making works of great or special significance. Perhaps things that are frightening or cruel can also include as being art. Dante’s inferno or some images of Botticelli can be very confronting even though we know him more as the creator of beauty and goddesses of love seated on giant sea shells. He also painted some rather gruesome scenes of murder and incitements to wars.

After moving to the new place I discovered a forgotten large roll of butcher paper that has moved a few times without getting a look at. This time my daughter unrolled some of it and it turned out to be a large roll of etchings that I did sometime during the 1990 when I did a certificate course in printmaking. Of course, I have many etchings and I often invite friends to come over and look at my etchings.
During those 1990’s I had set up an etching press in our garage in Balmain and I loved making etchings. The copper plates on which I did the engravings and the use of acid in the baths in which to dip the plates were all part of the Technical college equipment. All I did was to actually print at home the etchings from the finished plates on my own printing press, which was a converted mangle use for mangling clothes… It was simple but not perfect but good enough for my etchings. The works I did were not to achieve technical excellence in printmaking but more as a way in expressing, rather impatiently, images in a more spontaneous way using copper. The fertile mind seemed to express mainly nude women and flowers, but that’s a different story better told at some next time. There is a lot here!
After rediscovering this roll I decided to hang it on my stairs which has a wall with at least a few metres of space to suspend it from. The first thing to do was to get a ladder onto the stairs.
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Ladder
After getting the ladder in an upright position I had to get my legs onto the rungs and somehow with hammer, nails and the scroll of butchers paper all under one arm with the other arm holding onto the rungs of the ladder while climbing right to the top. Not such an easy task. Mind you, I did work for some time hanging outside multi story building swinging from bosun’s chairs. I do not fear ladders or heights. The next photo shows my legs (both of them) getting ready to ascend the ladder.
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Legs, both of them.
At some stage after having climbed past the widow and as high as possible with my head against the stair’s ceiling I had to let go of the ladder’s rungs in order to place the scroll of etchings against the wall suspended by a bamboo rod (all in keeping with the oriental meme of the scroll). It is impossible to screw something single handed. One can imagine doing all this on my own. However, the results speak for themselves. A wonderful position to, after all those decades, have found a way to show this forgotten scroll of etchings.
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The scroll of etchings
In order to try and restore this butcher’s paper scroll of thirty years of age I had to somehow fix the paper’s fragile condition with a good preservative and restore its strength. I gave it about ten coats of varnish, hence the sheen on the surface.
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Etchings
The only problem still to solve is that the scroll now overhangs the entrance to the stairs whereby anyone going up or down has to duck past this scroll. The scroll is longer than the wall.
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overhanging scroll
Nothing is easy but I am overjoyed that my etchings are hanging so nicely.
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The long years of the untouched aspidistra, and the parking station.

July 3, 2020

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In the newly acquired town-house court yard stand amongst the clivias (Amaryllidaceae) an aspidistra that is almost as old as I am and that is pretty old. The astonishing thing is not so much its age but more of , how and why ? It is our most neglected plant. I can’t remember watering it and apart from the occasional shower it doesn’t get moisture or nurture from anyone. A bird might fly over it occasionally. Perhaps a careless rosella  aims its droppings at this loveless plant as a sign of their care at least, which nature often astounds us with. I remember Helvi telling me that we took the plant from the farm in Holland and that dates back almost beyond my memory. We smuggled it in the crates of our furniture that included all our household goods with chairs, our home-made slatted bed, egg-cups, pillows, a large Dutch armoire and lots more. So, it is about at least forty five years old considering we left the farm in Holland around 1976.

And now it is outside near the clivias and still very much alive. At the previous place (of the garden slasher) it had a position in the downstairs bathroom and I suppose benefited from the shower droplets or steamy humidity. We sometimes mentioned it when conversation was about the indoor plants which throughout our many years together gave us so much pleasure. I read up about the aspidistra and we should have been more curious about this plant. Its flowers are so short and low that they just never seem to appear and another insightful information states it propagates with the help of slugs that crawl over those stumpy flowers and help to pollinate the plant. Another name for this plant is Cast Iron Plant. Its the plant that gets put in a dark place behind aunty Agnes’ untuned wood framed piano, and gets totally forgotten till aunty gets buried, the house sold, and removalists find this profusely growing aspidistra made of Cast Iron.

As for the parking station. When I visited my sick daughter at StGeorge brand new public hospital, I with the nonchalance and nous of a Mika Häkkinen drove into their large multi story parking station. Little did I know of the drama looming ahead. I have no experience of city living anymore. In any case, this multi story car park seem to attract hoons that race up and down the very curvy car park just to train for the Monte Carlo or the Dutch Assen race, to stay more local. But, forget about the screeching tires and the nose ringed hoons. At the entrance you are given a ticket that you present on the way out. This ticket has a time and date. After you pull the ticket out of the machine only then the boom gate allows you to enter by lifting it up and out of the way. Th ticket has to held onto for dear life. Don’t ever loose it!

When my visit was over, I made my way to the parking station and noticed with some relief that the race drivers had gone. I slowly retrieved my car from level C and made my way down numerous levels to the exit following the yellow painted arrows. I had the parking ticket grimly between my teeth and felt super-confident. I’ll proof a city slicker yet! At the ground floor I drove carefully towards the boom gate and next to a machine that after inserting my credit card and paying the fee would surely lift up and allow me to exit the parking station. But, as I inserted the ticket and thought I paid my charge the notice on the electronic screen kept saying. ‘charge not processed, try again’. I tried and tried and kept looking at the boom gate that stayed rock solid down in position. It then asked me by a mechanical voice to insert my card the other way around. That failed, by then I was getting into a state. I did not want a rage to well up. Just be an old man, I kept telling me. Pretend to be an aspidistra.  Nothing worked, I tapped and inserted and no help. Finally a voice told me to go to the office but ‘don’t leave the car’. Pay cash. But how? I then lost it and shouted to the machine. ‘I am an old man, and I want to pay, but for f”8£k sake let me out. I have a heart condition. ‘ The ‘office’ could sense a man holding onto the mast before the ship sunk, and soon a man appeared opened the machine and then told me ‘you did not put a ticket in’. I told him I did. He said ‘where is the ticket’, and held up a handful of tickets. My ticket was $10.40 but I wasn’t going to help him sort through tickets.

I said, ‘do you think I am lying?’ I am eighty years old and would I skimp on paying my dues?  He said, no and repeated, where is your ticket? I remained quiet and just looked ahead. He lifted the boom gate and I drove off.

It wasn’t a good moment but I am over it now.

 

The lure of the past and a bed pan.

June 28, 2020

There might be nothing more exciting or upsetting when visiting the past. Over the last three days it happened almost by accident of an emergency. You know that when all has been so settled, quiet and serene for a long while, a suspicion seems to well up that this peace can’t last.

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Our street and house in Balmain where we lived 1976-1996

Sure enough, I received a message that told me in a few crisp lines, that text messages always seem to excel in, but none the less almost always are disconcerting, that my daughter had deposited herself in an Hospital emergency room. ‘Chest pain’, was part of this short text! Of course, the reaction was a trip to Sydney the day after. I had organised the house in such a way to leave our dog Milo an exit in case of toilet visits by placing a stick behind the sliding door, leaving an opening big enough for Milo but not for a robber, no matter how agile or elastic he or she might be.

My daughter after arrival was in the emergency ward and suitable wired up to all sorts of equipment, occasionally a beep would be expelled from one of those machines. I noticed with pride that some of that equipment had Philips as the manufacturer. It is still a Dutch company that originally started out by making light bulbs. It is now a multinational conglomerate employing 80 000 people world-wide

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A closer look at the house.

After visiting my daughter and consuming a delicious toasted cheese and ham sandwich for my breakfast and getting the daughter to keep asking the doctor for more information, I left when her son visited her as well.  She had chest pain but a quick scan and blood pressure test, proved that her heart was alright. A great relief. The bed allows only limited number of people to sit on and the chair was nowhere to be seen or perhaps used in the bed next to my daughter, which was screened off. I saw a bedpan being carried away covered by a cloth. Always a sign one is in good hands. I remember them well from my occasional forays in hospital.

I decided to visit our old house and street where we live so happily for twenty years.  After all, I was back in Sydney. They were really the years that our three children grew up from toddlers to adults. The street has lost none of its charms. The suburb of Balmain is now a millionaires’ nest, hounded by big time foreign currency option dealers,  lawyers and well heeled liberal provocateurs.

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The entrance to our old house.

Amazingly one of my friends that I met here recently in Bowral lived in the same street at the same time when we lived there. Another friend in the same group grew up just around the corner as well. Such coincidences that are so baffling.

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Our veranda with me and the red heeler cattle dog, around 1990 or so.

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This picture is of the street taken yesterday, still charming.

I visited my Daughter again today, and all is well. She might be coming home tomorrow.She was worried about her cats more than about me. But then, I am just a dad.

What an amazing life this has been so far, and still ongoing!

 

 

 

Going Solar And Male Prowess.

June 23, 2020

67 Regent Street, Mittagong, NSW 2575

The third one up is my place.

Hello Gerard Oosterman,Your Electricity Distributor, Endeavour has approved your installation.We can now send your solar install request to your installer.An installer will be in touch soon to work out a time and date that suits you.

Speak soon,

Origin Solar

The above I just copied and pasted from a letter I received 5 seconds ago. There you go!

For many years, Helvi and I used to ponder about installing solar panels. It first cropped up on our farm well over 20 years ago when solar panels first started to make their appearance. We had lots of roofs but somehow the costs were not as they are now and we were advised to wait for them to come down. Of course, now with Government rebates and the cost of panels a fraction of what they were it doesn’t make sense not to do it.  The quality of the panels have also improved. Even so, one has to be careful, we were told there are a lot of shonky operators out there trying to sell you a donkey for a horse.

I remember getting very annoyed with endless phone calls trying to lure you into getting solar panels. I ended up with a perfect solution by telling them we had no roof. You could hear their astonishment being told we lived in a house with no roofs! Another ploy I used was reading them a children’s story in Dutch. They soon hung up and it amused Helvi and I for a while. Such memories I tend to stick to. Laughter and a smile is good medicine and lately I haven’t been happier than right now. I made friends and I meet her, and others almost daily. In seems odd that during this Covid-19 pandemic, people seem to be keen in meeting each other and perhaps also make the time available to talk and give smiles.

Distances are still required and most seem to adhere to that. I haven’t as much as shaken hands with her, or others, let alone try and get intimate. Couples must be busting to get to each other, but… distance please…, eat a carrot instead. At my age, my masculinity is waning ( if you relate masculinity with sexual prowess)  and I have yet to consider asking the doctor for any help in the form of Viagra or other stimulants.

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Years ago, that wasn’t an issue with me, but now with  getting older, some still seem to want to stick to what once was. I now avoid coffee, tea and other stimulants after 8pm as my sleep does need careful planning, and I do appreciate that more than a possible feeble rump about, under the doona.

In any case, lets stick to the solar panels for generating electricity. I was told that it takes about three to four years to regain the initial costs of the installation. That is a pretty good return and it would be foolish not to do it. I also bit the sour apple and bought the place next to mine as well. I am not sure but will probably rent it. A bit of a capitalist, and that, at the fag-end of my life!  Where did I go wrong, daddy? Of course with two places now, I also double my joy in gardening efforts in both places, and that balances the capitalist and the botanist (kasvitieteilijä in Finnish) nicely.

I am so excited.

Life as a sandwich.

June 17, 2020

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It would be rare for most of us to go through life without, at one stage or another, having become intimate with a sandwich. The earliest memories that most of us might have of a sandwich probably dates back to very early childhood. In my own case, I became aware not just of a sandwich but a whole loaf of the ingredients that sandwiches are mainly made of, bread. It was given to me by a German soldier during the last few days of WW2. He was stationed below street level in a cellar in the street we were living in. It was welcomed by my mother like a gift from heaven. We were starving. I feared that the German soldier’s gift of bread might well have been his last action. It happened in Rotterdam.

After that memorable event, and food returning in a more normal manner that the sandwich became a huge part of our lives. And really, it hasn’t stopped so far. There would be few days that this type of food would not be consumed by me today. I still have vivid memories of my mother making huge piles of sandwiches, each day without a let up, except on Sundays when we did not go to one school or the other. With six children and a husband, the making of sandwiches was  a major task which in those times usually fell on the woman of the house.

It was difficult to keep making sandwiches that would satisfy the hungry child and again from memory, it also depended a bit on our financial situation. When money was short, my mum resorted to a simple but generally well liked sandwich, and that was the simple sugar sandwich. A smidgeon of butter and plain white sugar thinly spread and embedded in the butter. A delicacy, still fondly remembered. Another favourite would be the biscuit sandwich. I can’t remember ever having had the luxury of meat on a sandwich. At best, it would be cheese. It wasn’t sliced cheese but a soft variety that could be spread as thin as possible, just to give a mere hint of taste. Peanut butter was my favourite but that did not come cheap!

I am not sure if people still take sandwiches to work. Cafes are now more in vogue and with more money, the home-made sandwich by mum seems to be fighting a rear action. However, the creative side of making sandwiches has made enormous improvements. Some cafes are making delicious sandwiches with combinations that defy gravity, so appealing behind the glass counter, one feels they could take off.

Of course, in the old day when kids took sandwiches to school and well before the advent of air conditioning, many sandwiches during the stifling heat of mid-summer, would get a bit blowsy, stale and smelly. Was  it Barry  Humphries, who when as a schoolkid he would shout out after someone had farted, ‘who opened their lunchbox?’ In those early days, Australian mums would make the much revered banana sandwich, and with the coming of preservatives, the devon sandwich would slowly start making its entrance in the hallowed grounds of the public schools.

And then of course, many schools as an aid to raising funds would open tuck shops. The sausage roll and meat pie made their entries, but that is for another story.

It just never stops.