Archive for the ‘Gerard Oosterman’ Category

A Grave issue (first published August 2013)

September 28, 2022

A grave issue.

Some time ago I decided, together with grandchildren, to have a closer look at the local cemetery here at Brayton, NSW. My grandkids at that time were dealing with death and dying and the prospect of Opa carking it as well, sooner or later. Thomas, who was 6 at the time and a bit of a thinker, pondered about Oma’s statement that, at some stage you arrive at a ‘spot’ in life when one would die. He thought deeply about this; when I get at that spot, I will jump over it, he said brilliantly. Oma answered by laughing; and what a clever boy you are. He slept like an angel that night.

The graveyard at Brayton is one of those lovely forgotten and forlorn bush places where in the past, swags could easily have been rolled out with bushies camped in between the contented and silent stones. It is surrounded by an old fence that leans higgledy piggledy now, but even so, were then hand hewn with posts and rails that survived fires and hungry ants, rammed in hand dug holes decades ago by men now buried there. It keeps out the curious cows but not the incorrigible wombats. Argyle eucalypts with leaves so silvery and fragrant keep guard and give shade to all those dearly departed country souls. The view from this burial place is so beautiful and to die for. The surrounding paddocks carry the black stumps of bushfires which wiped out the settlement many times over, including Post Office, Church and local single class school. The graveyard is all that Brayton now is. Someone carried the brick steps of the burned out church to this burial place as well. A small and modest reminder of big rural lives then.

Of course, the grandkids were overawed by this chance of seeing places where bodies of dead people were kept. One stone of simple concrete had moved ajar through erosion, unhurried time and drought, allowing the boys to squat down and peek inside. They looked, but darkness inside prevented any remnant of Joh.D with d o b 1912, passed 1986, to be shown.

Things became serious when I asked if they would prefer Opa to be burned (cremated) or buried and if buried what spot would be suitable? I mentioned this because a few weeks earlier their dad’s mum passed away. The funeral included the grand kids who viewed their daddy’s mum’s body in its resting casket for all to view before a big funeral with lots of kissing, singing and crying. After, the body was flown back to Croatia for another large burial. Some of the kids went for that funeral as well. A few years earlier when another old relative had passed away, little four year old Jack asked; who shot him? They grow so much faster now a days, don’t they?

Someone said; a country’s culture is defined by how they look after their dead. If true, then Argentina with Buenos Aires’ La Recoleta cemetery would have to be at the top, perhaps closely followed by Russia. The Argentine cemetery is amazing with vaults many stories high and a favourite for week-end visits by relatives and tourists alike. Thousands are crowding complete streets of Mausoleums and graves not unlike Mc Mansions here except much better build with marble surely outlasting brick veneer and hollow columns. Flowers on graves are real too with regular replacements and so are the urns and vases. No fading or windswept plastic petunias there. Some burial palaces are so large it would almost take a whole day just to take it all in. Of course, it depends on personal fondness of visiting grave yards in the first place.

Russians are also big on burials and cemeteries, with many making it a week-end family picnic.  Again, some of the graves are magnificent and often surrounded by ornate cast iron fences. My better half used to insist that in Finland the graves are the best and the dead also most revered.

My query is how do we deal with our temporary stay here? How are our young prepared for death? Or do we pretend it all goes on forever?  Rookwood cemetery in Sydney is vast but the abundance of all those dreadful plastic pretend flowers seems insulting to the dead. Then again, most people happily have those while alive, so……. C’est la vie or c’est la mort.

Bucket Rex Jackson

September 22, 2022

The Illustrious career of Rex (bucket) Jackson

12TuesdayMar 2013 A re-run of a post.

Posted by gerard oosterman in Uncategorized

[Edit]

The illustrious career of Rex (bucket)Jackson

March 12, 2013

The illustrious career of Rex (Bucket) Jackson.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7I8QiBsnhSk

With the latest finger pointing at Obeid and his antics in front of Icac I wonder if some of you still remember Rex Jackson. There is a world of difference between the two!

Rex (bucket) Jackson was really the epitome of a charming effervescent man. He was also  minister for Youth and Community services, of Corrective services and a little later minister for Transport in the NSW Labor Government during the mid seventies and early eighties after which he suffered his spectacular fall from grace.

His love of dogs is what is supposed to have led him to his downfall.  He was a regular fixture at Dapto dogs and Wentworth Park.  It must have been unfairly tempting when he started to make nice little earnings from allowing prisoners out before their time was up for a bit of handy cash. He wasn’t minister for Corrective services for nothing!  One of the things he fought hard for was rehabilitation for prisoners. What could be more re-habilitating than giving prisoners a chance to start afresh, letting them out of prison before the sentence was fully served? Of course, a bit of cash in return would be appreciated. There were monthly waves of prisoners being led out on parole which gave rise to suspicion all wasn’t on the level!

Who can forget the video footage of Rex in a car casually accepting a bundle of notes which later on included him having a boot-full of cash at the back of his car?

He was born at Wagga Wagga, the son of a railway fettler. He knew poverty but despite or because of this he grew up an irascible optimist and larrikin with more than a streak of compassion and strong sense of reform for the needy and the underdog when running the tough portfolio of Youth and Community services.  In other words, he was a good bloke, a decent man with strong words for those opposing him. That’s how he got the tag “Bucket Jackson.” He lost both his parents when in his teens and was then separated from his siblings. He was taken up by a family and soon he started work at week-ends at their shop selling lollies and ice cream.

His career included having won 16 out of 17 boxing matches as a professional light welterweight with one fight ending in a draw. At twenty six he won the seat of Bulli against 14 other candidates. When minister he fought to improve condition in jails and was successful in raising the budget for his department from 44 million to 78 million dollars within two years. He was acutely aware of the plight of deserted wives and fought hard to improve their lot and felt that child support was of a ‘Dickensian. ‘age

It was his dogs gambling addiction and hopeless debts that got him in the end. It was the sentencing judge who ‘looked at the quality of the man’ and sentenced him seven and a half years, showing some compassion. This was appealed against by the Crown and Rex was given an increased sentence of ten years with non parole of five years. He felt condition at jail were atrocious! Good behaviour got him out after serving three years and three months.

While incarcerated he was sharing time and space with some of those sent to jail when he was still minister of Corrective services. It would not have escaped Rex Jackson the irony of life and its unpredictable crooked path that sometimes ends up being followed. No more racing of dogs inside.

Rex Jackson

But, and this really summed up the humility and innate quality of the man. After doing his time in jail, he reared up and started a take away hamburger kiosk at the top of Stanwell Park, a popular spot for hang-gliding.

There can be no doubt that his dog gambling days were not his best but when looked at all the good things he achieved, the balance of the ledger would have to be very strong in his favour. You could never talk of Jackson and Obeid in the same breath. Could you?

Rex Jackson died on New Year’s Eve 2011.

Fried Air.

September 7, 2022

It was noticed years ago that fried air was the domain of politicians. The more successful used fried air so well they made it to the top. Remember Trump or our own Scott Morrison? Who would have thought that fried air could be made to good use?

Often on my walks through shopping centers I used to notice the latest in household items or gadgets. Readers might remember I bought an induction top. To my astonishment it uses magnetism to cook food, hence only magnetic responsive steel cookware can be used to heat food. The induction stove itself does not heat and that in itself has me intrigued. Cooking or heating food has always been achieved by using and burning fuel, either by gas or wood and electricity. The induction method:

” In the heating hob induction coils made from copper wire create a magnetic field as electricity is passed through them. If a pan with a magnetised base is placed on the hob, the magnetic field causes it to heat up directly. The hob will remain cool, with only some residual heat from the pans. Non-magnetic pans put in the same place will remain cold.” I have one of those and it cooks perfectly, very fast and food can’t burn.

I thought the induction method would be the last of modern cooking but that was wrong. Things move so fast in kitchens. (Or I am the one who is slowing in comparison with the world spinning out of control.)

The latest to arrive in culinary delights are the Air Fryers. It cooks by hot air the same as politicians when shouting in parliament or to their spouses. When things get too hot in parliament with hot air scorching so badly, in Australia there is a special man sitting in a kind of elevated throne at the front who then shouts ‘order, order’ and gets red in the face. This is a tradition of the inherited adversarial British way of governing as no one actually keeps order. The air frying is tolerated in parliament, they often leave half cooked.

But going back to cooking I bought one of those air fryers and astonishingly it was a mere $ 29.99 from Aldi. Now, don’t go yet. If anything, get a bit closer to the screen. It cooks fantastic and last night I tried it on a marinated dish of pork belly. Pork belly is the Mount Everest of nice tasting food especially with the pork crackling. My own cardiologist was overcome with delight when I confided in him about my new air fryer and pork belly.

https://www.choice.com.au/home-and-living/kitchen/benchtop-cooking/articles/air-fryer-vs-oven-cooking-test

You can imagine my delight when this cheap Aldi air fryer came on top when Choice tried and gave an update of the best overall air fryers which they had investigated and made go through their paces. Sometimes the cheapest is not good but in this case it was THE BEST against air fryers of hundreds of dollars.

Chorizo Salami benefits.

August 21, 2022

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Truth telling about Australia, “Dark Emu”.

August 12, 2022

There is a book that does just that. It was given to me for my recent birthday a week ago or so and I was so thrilled and taken by it I bought another copy, and sent it to my brother. It debunks the myth that Australia was by and large an empty continent. When captain Cook took it he declared it to be a discovery ready for the picking and did so by annexing it to The British empire. True, there were people wandering about but they were seen as a primitive race scarcely able to exist and did so merely by hunting and gathering. The book is titled; “Dark Emu” and is compiled and written by Bruce Pascoe.

It tells the truth about Australia and its indigenous culture which for decades was often described through the blinkered eyes of appropriation and White superiority. It thoroughly demolishes the concept that Australia pre colonization was peopled by just hunters and gatherers.

Bruce Pascoe convincingly proves through early records, astute notes of early explorers and interviews of aboriginal people that this was not a country just peopled by nomadic tribes but that they had in place a highly sophisticated production scheme with farming, growing crops, tilling the land, nurturing the soil, slow burning , fishing and storing food, building towns and villages. For many decades this was deliberately kept hidden in order to justify the colonials in their aim in ‘absorbing’ the aboriginal people in the hope that the land would eventually become an Anglo extension of King , Country, and all would play cricket.

Please, try and get this book. It is an Unputdownable read.

Peter Dutton, our future PM? The horror, the horror!

July 23, 2022

https://www.facebook.com/111767424745908/videos/450245203306449

We know that during the reign of last few Liberal governments the well nurtured and manured vitriol against refugees were their main ally. Dutton was the architect of this dreadful change in our previous tolerance for those that come from different countries and cultures. The demonization of refugees found favor earlier on with a former Liberal prime minister saying ; “We will chose who come to this country and the methods whereby they will come.” This was a political move to capitalize on refugees escaping from their war torn and bombed out countries in leaky boats. ( we were of course aiding the US in bombing those countries!) This was blown up beyond all reason and facts. It was made out that those boat people would soon come in such numbers that it threatened our safety. They would clamber over our dunes, invade our cities and rape our women. It found fertile ground and the Liberals were in power mainly by using this xenophobic tool very effectively. The peasants were frightened.

Fortunately, at the last election, the liberals were chucked out and there was a move away from the main parties, especially towards the Greens and even more especially, to the warm embrace of many more women in power. The anti refugee rhetoric has shrunk and hopefully the plight of refugees still in detention will soon be over and given permanent visas to give them access to health, work and a normal free life away from detention.

The only cloud on the horizon is that the dreaded Dutton is now the leader of the opposition. He is hard at work polishing a more benign image but he is still Dutton. A thoroughbred xenophobe.

IMG_1477 sunflower

The triptych.

July 1, 2022

The above photo is of a triptych painting that I was fortunate to have been commissioned to paint for a yet to be build school in The Netherlands around 1974. Between 1973/76 we lived in The Netherlands. Before that we lived in Australia from 1965 where our three children were born. It was a chance article that I read that the Dutch Government had put in place a scheme whereby artist of good enough standing could now earn an income the same as carpenters, secretaries or civil servants. It seemed ideal as I could not maintain a life as an artist selling my work here in Australia. I compromised and painting pictures was more of a week-end pastime while paying mortgage and bills had priority. Not for me the life of a hermit artist behind the easel with pregnant women in his wake.

So, after selling up in Australia we trekked to The Netherlands with our three young children. I submitted some of my work and was accepted in the artist salary scheme. It seemed ideal because the salary allowed one to work on his or her arts and not worry about starvation or the dreaded knock on the door by the sheriff. In exchange for the salary the government would take on your work and exhibit those in government buildings s a schools, hospitals, offices, even jails . My commission to paint the triptych gave me three months of salary. It was done on three large woodchip panels. It looked very good and as far as I know might still be there.

The above and below pictures are of the farmhouse that we lived in while doing my art over those three years. It was an early 1700 Saxon farmhouse which during its time had stables and family under the same roof. It also had a large hay shed. Part of the deal was that the sale would include very old furniture that today still lives in my townhouse here in Australia’s Mittagong.

The last photo shows this farm again with our daughter Natasha standing on the wire fence looking at our Shetland ponies. It was a lovely time. However, the pull of Australia, the freedom of chaos, the wild growing weeds and so much more, including… and the rest of my family, got the best of us and after three years decided to return to Australia.,

How life can twist and turn.

A quick dollar at Australia’s peril.

June 24, 2022

During the sixties and seventies, Australia discovered making free money by selling all our previously held government assets. Government insurances, the post and telegraph, banks, anything that could be sold, electricity, water , you name it and it would turn a dollar . And that wasn’t enough. It was followed by selling the ground underneath us. There were more riches to be made, oil, gas, iron ore, silver gold, coal uranium, titanium and now the richest of them all, lithium.

But what happened to all that money? Where is it now?

Here it is.

1 Gina Rhinehart (mining) $32.64 billion.

2Andrew Forrest (mining) $31.77 billion.

3 Clive Palmer (mining) $ 18.35 Billion.

4 Ivan Glasenberg (mining) $9,10 Billion.

With a looming economic recession rapidly coming over the horizon one wonders if all that wealth in just a few hands could have been better spent or, saved for a rainy day!. Look at the level of run down public hospitals and public education. The paltry salaries teachers and nurses earn? When was the last time a new hospital was build, a new school, a police station? There are voices calling for nationalizing our resources. They should never have been sold.

Even our public education is being sold and privatized. Almost 40% of school children now attend private or independent schools, one of the highest rates n the world. Why, for heaven’s sake? Education should be good for all of our children, not that private schools have a better vision of what education actually means. They just nurture separation and inequality.

Why Australia should ban private schools & More News Here

UNICEF has ranked Australia 39 out of 41 high and middle income countries on our level of education. This is extremely serious for our growing population. Only Romania and Turkey were ranked below Australia in education in the latest United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) report card. Finland, of course came number 1 and Malta 2.

https://www.smh.com.au/education/un-agency-ranks-australia-39-out-of-41-countries-for-quality-education-20170615-gwrt9u.html

It used to be so simple.

June 20, 2022

At most births the gender is decided when the doctor, after lightly smacking the baby ( or the mother if it was a very ugly baby) declared its gender on the basis of their genitals. The issue of gender is now being questioned and extended to all possible variations, unimaginable years back when I was born.

LGBTQ+ https://www.verywellmind.com/what-does-lgbtq-mean-5069804 explains better than I ever will.

Rear view of people in the pride parade. Group of people on the city street with gay rainbow flag.

In today’s news the issue cropped up in the world of athletics and specifically swimming. It seems to deal with transgender males on their journey to becoming female (or being female all along) wanting to compete in swimming on an equal basis with females.

And I quote.

“FINA’s decision — which is the strictest ruling from an Olympic sports body — states that male-to-female transgender athletes are eligible to compete, only if “they can establish to FINA’s comfortable satisfaction that they have not experienced any part of male puberty beyond Tanner Stage 2 [of puberty] or before age 12, whichever is later”.

The policy was passed with a roughly 71 per cent majority after it was put to the members of 152 national federations with voting rights who had gathered for the congress at the Puskás Aréna in Budapest.” Unquote.

IMG_20140627_0002

So there you have it. But there is more that I have to become acquainted with, much more. A whole new language has to be taken onboard. It is now the norm that gay and lesbian couples get married like most of us and refer to their married partners as ‘my husband’ in the case of some Lesbian couples that I know of. I have yet to hear in gay married couples referring to a male partner as ‘my wife’. I am speculating here, but imagine myself to get introduced during a party amongst good friends, and being gay and married, ; please, meet my ‘wife Gerard’. It is just so baffling and at 82 having to learn a whole new language of nouns and pro-nouns. There are all sorts of variations and now include cisgender and nonbinary individuals. It never stops and one has to go to the university to do a course in getting to grips with this world of varying gender identity. I am looking for a dictionary that teaches me gender neutral pronouns.

It used to be so simple.

The concert.

June 13, 2022

IMG_3241portrait of love

The area where I am living is named The Southern Highlands and for historical reason always attracted a fair proportion of artists and art lovers. Perhaps of its height above sea level and its resulting climate, people were attracted to it. The summers dry with little humidity while winters bracing and perhaps reminiscent of Great Britain which many Anglo Australians still refer to sometimes as the ‘Home country’. Although I will try and avoid the Scottish or Irish to include as Anglos. They are also well represented and there is Brigadoon, a yearly Scottish musical event where people go around visiting fellow Brigadoners and have sing along, all dressed in kilts, tassels, and lustily throwing cabers.

The Southern Highlands attracted also wealthy people buying a holiday house as it was still within reasonable distance from Sydney and easily reached by car or even trains. Now the area is a great mixture of all arts imaginable and even arts unimaginable. I went again at yesterday’s concert and was surprised by its high standard, world class. The soprano in the concerts which I have seen is the daughter of a family friend and was one reason I also wanted to hear her heavenly voice again. The background of all the musicians are of world class with having performed throughout Europe. I felt privileged to have heard this superb music of Violins, Viola, Cello and of course the soprano Voice.

IMG_3239 mozart

Afterwards I felt so elated and uplifted I stopped my car by Woolworth where I had previously been eyeing not only the hot cooked chickens ( and sometimes bought the odd chook) but also the roast pork WITH  crackling. I never had the courage to buy that pork dish as guilt crept in. Is it a childhood fear of sinning? I do have the occasional ham sandwich, so it is not the type of meat but perhaps more the expense. After all, the hot chicken is $10 while the pork with crackling was $ 20. Who knows?

Anyway, I was feeling euphoric after this wonderful music so I decided to ride the wave of happiness a bit longer and I bought the crackling with roast pork. After coming home to a very enthusiastic Mr. Bentley, the Tibetan Spaniel, I sat down with a glass of Shiraz  and partook of my Pork and crackling. It was so good and what a day it was!

By the way. Just had an email from WordPress congratulating me.

I have 1550 followers.