Archive for the ‘Gerard Oosterman’ Category

How low can we go?

June 22, 2018

In America;

In Australia.
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In Nazi Germany.
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Soccer between France and Australia.

June 17, 2018

 

Kalanchoe

Kalanchoe.

There is always a first time. Helvi scanned the TV programme for Saturday evening and as the pickings were a bit slim, surprised me by saying; ‘why don’t we watch the soccer?’ We never watch any sport. When sport comes on the TV, we slink away to clear the table or use the time to put the dishes in the sink, feed Milo, only to return when the weather forecast comes on. We are not against sport. There is just too much of it. At my social bowling-club I am often embarrassed when I am asked what I thought of the latest rugby or AFL match. I don’t understand the game or the scoring and so often read players being up for drug charges, glassing girlfriends, sexual misconduct, drunkenness etc. I always though that playing with an oblong ball must result in a warped personality and deviousness

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You can imagine my surprise when Helvi suggested to watch the world soccer match beamed live on the TV. I always felt that if sport was anywhere on her radar, it would be soccer. I agreed that to settle down to watch Australia play soccer against France it would be a first in our long term marriage or relationship. People are in relationships rather than marriages. Does it have a tinge of sophistication now?

The weather outside was atrocious. The wind was howling and the forecast was for snow down to 700 metres. We are at 500 metres above the sea on the cusp of snow or at least a bucketing of sleet. Helvi had already packed up the Kalanchoes who don’t like cold. The cyclamen were jubilant in eager anticipation of a nice cyclonic frost. The violets are more indifferent and like extremes of weather, cold or heat. Those brave little souls.

The TV was put on the right soccer channel, the shiraz uncorked. I threw all caution to the wind. The cheese, olives and other delicacies on the coffee table. I turned the thermostat to 25C.  I thought it so typical and lovely for Helvi so often to make the best of things, and in such a surprising and creative way. The thing with soccer is that the ball is round and generally goes towards its intended destination. The ball is also used to kick it instead of being (Illegally) carried around under the arm as in rugby. No-one in soccer will ever grapple with each other either. In a rugby scrum one could be forgiven in thinking that maybe it isn’t only the ball they are trying to grapple with. Who knows what goes on between all those legs, arms and bums?

We enjoyed the soccer immensely and so badly wanted Australia to win. As it turned out there were some dodgy calls and hints of video evidence being ignored favouring France. They finished up winning 2-1. Australia played very well, and even though they lost on a faulty technicality, can walk proud into the future.

Helvi and I had a great evening. Who could have thought that so late in life we watched soccer game?

It is never too late!

Seeing the movies in Bowral.

June 11, 2018
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We are not sure where this came from. Out of nowhere we decided to watch movies at our local cinema. It used the be one large cinema. The invention of TV resulted in many single cinemas in closing down. That was a great pity. I remember seeing a movie was almost as good as a long week-end. In those early times it was an outing. Often two movies would be shown. There were intervals whereby we could go outside and replenish our intake of popcorn or Smarties, even an ice-cream. Some cinemas had a Hammond Organ rising majestically from below the screen. A white-suited Liberace type man would play it.

At one particular film the audience were forced to be separated into the two sexes. Even weeks, men, and uneven weeks, women. Or was it uneven and even days? It was supposed to be an informative movie on love, sex and pro-creation. There were long queues.  Many men and maybe women, of course thought there would be a fair bit of eroticism if not a fair sprinkling of nudity. There might not have been much nudity in love but surely with sex there would have to be nudity, including female nudity, which was my speciality and object of desire. The decision to show this movie divided by the sexes came from the Government which gave it enough spice for me to see it with some urgency. I was very young but above 16 years old which was the cut-off point. I had till then not experienced much nudity except that shown by skinny models wearing stiff-solid brassieres,  boned-undergarments and nylon stockings in my mother’s Dutch women magazines, sent over to Australia by her sister…

This sex film was a shocker. It started with the obligatory Hammond organ thumping out the God Save The Queen on stage, after which a man warned the male audience to remain seated, calm, and in control. One could hear a pin drop. The movie started and soon progressed to the informative part of sexual congress. There were black and white ovum,  black and white swimming sperms and mothers pushing black prams, but no nudity or genitalia except in such a medical manner that it killed all eroticism. Within twenty minutes some of the male audience started to walk out. I gave it another twenty minutes in the hope of at least seeing a glimpse of something. I would have been happy with some female pubic hair. But no, not a breast, lonely nipple or any hair, just drawings of medical stuff and quivering sperm. All in a morbid black. It was a most boring movie and a sad trip home to my parents.

During the seventies and eighties the Bowral cinema was made into 4 smaller theatres and they are all thriving. The movies we saw were in the order of; Guernsey literary and potato peel pie society.

  1. https://variety.com/2018/film/reviews/the-guernsey-literary-and-potato-peel-pie-society-review-1202753994/

A very well made film, excellent acting, if somewhat sentimental towards the end but still a very good, worthwhile movie. We liked it.

2. https://variety.com/2018/film/reviews/the-bookshop-review-1202701795/

‘The Bookshop’. A masterpiece of filmmaking. A story about a culturally backwards conservative English village resisting the coming of a bookshop. We thought it the best of the three movies.

3. https://www.adelaidereview.com.au/arts/cinema/film-review-tea-with-the-dames/

Another brilliant movie, very funny if you can follow the dialogue which with my impaired hearing had difficulty with. None the less for us a very entertaining film. How could it not be with those gifted actors?

 

 

Can the pumpkin save the world?

June 7, 2018

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Salvia

 

The world is holding its breath. Soon, Kim Jong Un and  Donald Trump will meet and hopefully come to an agreement on their weaponry. I wonder who is more of a dictator now? With Trump seemingly able to pardon himself for any wrongdoing, I reckon they are both neck on neck with claiming the winner of the race to an ultimate dictatorship.

Helvi and I often end up discussing politics. She is getting more and more despondent about the situation in Australia. ‘So little is decided and so little is being done’ , she said last night. ‘There is so much of nothingness in Australia now.’ We are still living of the success of SSM but for how long will that continue to nurture us? The same old stuff seems to get regurgitated over and over. I was a young and ambitious man when the second Sydney  airport was discussed. Has anyone heard anything about that lately? The same with education. All sorts of rapports and tests but nothing improves. The only time we read about it, it talks about a student getting a haircut or how the school bullying has resulted in misery and suicide. Anything about the fast trains or how the hydro electricity in the Snowy mountains is progressing?  Plastic shopping bags and non deposit glass was dealt with and banned in Holland in the seventies.

The only positive that has happened is that pumpkins are now for sale at 99c a kilo. We do not need to just live of the glory of SSM!  We rushed out and stocked up for the rest of the winter. Nothing can be more positive than a nice pumpkin and what can be made of it. A warning though!. There are hidden dangers. Pumpkins, sharp knives and over- enthusiastic cooks have often come to grief.

We snapped up four pumpkins for starters, with a large bag of potatoes, leeks, onions and garlic, lots of garlic. We noticed many doing the same. It seems that the message of good diets might be getting through. Some shoppers still try to sneak in a carton of Coke or lemonade but you can tell by their furtive eye movements that they are battling with their conscience. I used to give them stern looks but in my dotage have mellowed, and now manage a generous smile of understanding. I too used to sip a Coke!

Going back to my pumpkins. A good friend said that she never peels the pumpkin. It is even possible to bake an entire pumpkin without even cutting it in half. This is the wonder of having friends that share cooking and politics. I never knew one could bake an entire pumpkin. There I was sharpening my chopper and large knife including, a filleting knife (from Finland) trying to cut my pumpkin in sizeable portions to be baked in the oven. I never just boil pumpkin without first baking it together with the leeks, garlic and onions drizzled with a nice olive oil. There used to be a bar near central Sydney railway where you could actually sit on a stool and sample different oils and vinegars.

That’s what I miss here in Bowral. It is all so Anglo and nice! We have a lot of different salvias growing. The gardeners were here today, and I just said (in jest) in the presence of a neighbour peering at our salvias. ‘You know, this salvia is very good for rolling and smoking! In some US states it is forbidden to grow it because it can give you the smile of an angel and mildly hallucinates.’ The neighbour looked wry. Helvi kicked me in the shin.

Anyway, from now on I will not peel pumpkin. It will just be part of the soup. I add a little chilli with a good spoonful of turmeric. After baking it for 30 minutes I whisk the lot to a fine harmonious and mellow yellow soup. It is truly a magic dish.

My suggestion is to Singapore and the meeting between those giants of atomic might, to be given the best chance of peace resolution and give them this pumpkin soup lavishly, with dollops of sour cream and crusty sour-dough bread .

A food worthy of peace.

 

Gravity defied.

June 1, 2018

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Manchurian Pear

The above tree is not going to be with us much longer. At least not in its present shape. It was getting too large. During storms we watched the trunk twisting and turning alarmingly. With our previous farming life, and breeding alpacas, we were told to keep animals away from those type of trees. They, out of the blue, will drop large branches. Not deliberately, but as part of their nature. They split easily. But… they are also very beautiful trees giving us freely an amazing display of burnished gold during autumn. Unfortunately when they drop (unexpectedly) heavy branches, they fall down to earth and not up to heavenly skies. That is determined by the law of gravity.

I was told that this law doesn’t apply everywhere in our universe. There are many places in the more celestial areas where this law of gravity doesn’t exists. I have always been baffled that things fall down. As a child I remember seeing twirling seed pots taking a long time to reach the ground after leaving the safety of the parental tree.. Those seed pots attempted clearly to defy the law of gravity, and were very brave to do so.

In our condominium it was decided to cut some trees near the street that were pushing over a boundary fence. We were happy to go without a fence. It is a bit unfortunate, but fences seem very popular in Australia. Perhaps real estate when owned, has to be protected by a fence. Do people steal bits of real estate? Will we arrive home after watching a movie in the cinema, and find our kitchen has been stolen, or the front door?

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As you can see, our kitchen is still in place, at least at twenty minutes to eight in the morning. Anyway, we agreed to let those fence pushing trees to be cut down, and also asked to include for the arborist the lopping of our Manchurian pear to about the size it was when we moved in our own (fenced off) town-house. I watched the cutting of the trees with great interest. There is something about a man swinging high up, chainsaw dangling from his belt, cutting a large tree. Of course, here too the law of gravity reigns supreme and no branch moved skywards.

All trees were fed into a monstrous machine that chipped it into mulch. The mulch was subsequently blown into a large truck. The truck then deposited it on the side of one townhouse for the use of the residents needs to mulch their gardens. The last item to be lopped to size was our own Manchurian tree.  It too was fed into this machine.

It looks very sad now. Those trees are very fast growing. We are sure that next spring it will double in size again. That’s life. A renewal of everything. It will be great to watch it rear up and grow. Below, the ‘after’ picture of the tree.

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The potato.

May 29, 2018
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The latest piece mentioning Dutton and his likeness to a potato was unfortunate. Each time I look at a potato I get this scary Dutton image. Horrible. And yet, when I see Dutton a potato appears. I thought the best way to get over this is to make a good potato bake. This dish is very simple. You need a good solid cast iron baking dish. We use a red enamelled Chasseur. It is very heavy. Even an empty Chasseur, one needs to be fit just to be able to put it in an oven. I hope when reaching the nineties I will be strong enough to continue using this great baking dish.  (I don’t want to be found lifeless at the bottom of my stove with a Cast iron Chasseur pot on top me.) Apart from a potato bake it is ideal for almost all slow cooking recipes, especially slow simmering curries.

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Anyway, thinly sliced raw potatoes are layered with a mixture of tinned tuna in between. For a garnish I mix fried garlic, lots of rosemary and anchovies. Also chopped up leek with a red capsicum. All this is tucked in between the layers of Dutton/Molan, sorry, potatoes. When the Chasseur is ready to put in the oven I fill it up with milk into which I have whisked a couple of eggs. Depending on how we feel, I might also top it up with pouring full cream.  Some grated parmesan cheese on top before you close the lid and bang it into the oven at about 160C for a bit more than an hour. Don’t use salt as the anchovies generally provide enough salt. Helvi likes her salt and an exception can be made for those with low blood pressure. Apparently, salt raises blood pressure which can be beneficial for those, who like Helvi, have low blood pressure.

At last night’s Q&A, a mate of Dutton was on the ABC’s panel. His name is Jim Molan. He also is wildly enthusiastic about keeping refugees ( including 113 children) detained indefinitely on Manus and Nauru.

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Jim Molan

It will take a lot of potato bakes to get over this strange turn that Australia has taken. Is it just a foolhardy sticking to one’s point of view, no matter how wrong this is? Are those Duttons and Molan’s unable to see the misery this is causing? How can they justify their point of view for years on end?

We used to say; ‘Fair crack of the whip.’ But, indefinite detention for people who have done no wrong, who have not been charged with any crime, are not getting a fair go or ‘fair crack of the whip’.

The reason that Dutton and Molan give for putting and keeping refugees in detention indefinitely is to prevent more refugees from drowning. In other words, the refugees are being used/ punished for not having drowned or as a punishment and warning for others trying to seek asylum by boat,  ‘we will also put you in detention.’ Seeking asylum is not illegal.

A court should try those two for committing crimes against humanity.

Q&A

The heat on Manus and Nauru.

May 26, 2018

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While a seventh man has now died on Manus island, the chorus of protests is growing. The aim of this Governments has always been never to let refugees into Australia that tried to come by boat. They conveniently forget that, unless of aboriginal ancestry, we all came by boat.

With the upcoming bi- election of several federal seats and a general election looming, The abominable way those refugees are being treated is now getting to a growing awareness of voters. Savvy politicians will try and take advantage of it. If not out of a softening of their stance or because of a pure humanitarian concern, but out of practical political awareness.

You can only sweep so much rubbish under the carpet. The news about the horrendous treatment by Australia about those refugees locked on Manus and Nauru now into their fifth year is being soaked up by many countries. It will damage our reputation for years to come. You cannot excuse trying to achieve an aim ( preventing boat people from seeking asylum) by punishing thousands by locking them up indefinately on foreign islands.

The seventh refugee to die (by jumping from a moving bus) is now being remembered by a memorial on Manus Island. Have a look.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-05-26/manus-island-refugees-remember-rohingya-man-who-died/9803314

Two of the bi-elections are in WA which are contested by Labor and the Greens only. The Greens are strongly opposed to our present abominable refugee policies and totally in favour of dealing with refugees on-shore in Australia. One wonders if Labor too now will soften their stance on refugees. If not, many might well vote for the greens.

New Zealand is also willing to take some of the refugees which the present Government is strongly opposing. It seems that our minister for immigration, Peter Dutton, hopes for all the refugees to slowly give up and die or follow the latest refugee, and commit suicide.

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Peter Dutton. Minister for immigration and Border Protection

Those Hats and the Reverend.

May 20, 2018

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The bride’s mother’s hat was about the only one passing the mustard. We had a nice share of Fish and Chips at the local pub. I asked Helvi; ‘shall we go the whole hog and buy a full bottle, it works out cheaper.’  ‘Yes, sure, we might as well,  she replied. ‘The wedding is on TV tonight, lets get merry!’ ‘Get the Shiraz.’

The waitress and I have an understanding to keep the bottle’s cap. This helps us not having to drink the whole bottle and drive home half sloshed. After a couple of glasses, and the share of Fish and Chips, our bottle was re-capped by the waitress. A brown paper bag over it, we walked to the car and drove home.

We switched on the TV and sure enough, the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan was at a spiffing rate. Guests were arriving in numerous outfits and stretched-out cars. What really stood out were the women’s hats. Not just the hats, but the acute angles that they were fastened on the heads. The inspiration for hats at this wedding was avian. In fact I expected some hats quite capable of laying eggs. Camila, Prince Charley’s wife,  had a hat so large it became speculative material for a subdivision. It blocked out the CNN news crew who quickly rearranged themselves behind George Clooney, who thankfully, like most men, was hatless.

The price for the most unexpected event would have to go to the Chicago reverend, Michael Curry. He totally veered off the written scripts and went all spiritual. The word ‘Love’ was mentioned 56 times. This in front of a stone faced British audience. As he preached along, he became more and more evangelically enmeshed. If he expected the Queen and her Prince Phillip husband to leap up and shout ‘alleluia’, he was badly informed about the English. The Queen was visually squirming. The only one who seemed comfortable was the bride who was totally at ease with the fervour and zeal of the event.

Some priceless close-ups of battle hardened married couples were telling that ‘love’ does at times extract a price not previously having been foreseen. Especially at times of weddings. The white wedding dress, the Ave Maria. It was all so beautiful and romantic then!

Prince Charley and Camila were especially showing some wear and tear but what the heck. I reckon they both make the best of what marriage is very good at. An enduring friendship, that sails along the waves of time and glory, both the bad and the good.

Helvi and I polished off the Shiraz and some more. We enjoyed it very much which was unexpected. We did like the wedding dress and its 10 metre trail. I mentioned to Helvi it cost $180.000. ‘So what?’ she said.  I wasn’t sure what to make of her statement. I know weddings can be expensive. Some time ago, I wrote that there is a correlation between the expense of weddings and the duration of the marriage.  The dearer the wedding the shorter the marriage. We shall see. It certainly explains a lot about our relationship, now in its sixth decade and nicely steaming along.

I wish all the best for the Harry and Meghan. I reckon they will see it through.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-05-20/royal-wedding-meghan-markle-upstaged-by-reverend-michael-curry/9779990

 

A normal day.

May 14, 2018

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Jan. 1956. Our arrival In Fremantle with dad (with bald head) and mum (white hand-bag) in the foreground.

 

Normal day are getting rarer. That’s why I am glad it is Monday. I have never taken to Sundays in Australia. They are boring. I know it was mother’s day last Sunday but that doesn’t mean an uplift  in the general mood of all Sundays. It is hard to put one’s finger on the reason for feeling this way. It might date back to our first arrival here. Has anyone ever been to WA Fremantle on a Sunday? We did. Back in 1956. It was our first contact with the mainland of Australia. It was empty. Well not really empty. It just felt like it. No people about except other passengers from the migrant ship. We were all prancing about in our Sunday’s best. We wanted to make a good impression as newly arrived migrants tend to do. It was difficult to make any impression as the locals were nowhere to be seen. We might as well have well walked around stark naked. Some desultory looking dogs were scratching their fleas. It was better than nothing.

Mother’s days of course are different. Our mother used to emotionally blackmail us in saying; ‘Mother doesn’t want any present this year’. ‘Just make your beds, lay the table, do the washing-up and… above all , behave yourself.’ It must have been a murderous job with six kids running around a third story apartment back in rainy Holland. Do kids make their beds now? Some say they are getting away with murder. It’s no wonder when I see those huge black SUV’s dropping off the spoiled kids at school. Make them walk, I would say! My mum had the right attitude!

Our mother’s day was good. We had my brother staying over and on Sunday the grandchildren and our daughter visited us. I tried to book a lunch but the pub was booked out and an upmarket place called ‘The Mills’ was full of mothers, nervous looking partners, prams full with babies and their primordial screams. I recoiled and got out quickly.

We ended up eating very nicely at home. Helvi said; ‘just get big steaks.’ I bought 5 huge Porterhouse steaks. We heated up some left over pasta and an even earlier dated, but still in perfect condition, potato-bake. Both dishes I had used generous quantities of anchovies. I now tend to use anchovies in almost every dish. It might well work as a preservative as well as giving a nice taste. As we sat down to eat, the boys hoed into the porterhouse steaks with great enthusiasm. It was exactly as Helvi had predicted. Our grandson, Max, gave the Bolt salute. We could not have been given a greater compliment.

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It was a nice Sunday.

 

 

Tribulations of Treatments.

May 8, 2018

images Loving Couple

You know winter is near when the wood-smoke greets early morning’s walking our dog, Milo. This is now done each morning before the trip to Campbelltown hospital for radiation. It falls on me while Helvi gets ready. It includes her dressing and make-up. A woman takes much  more time with those rituals. She needs patient husband. After coming home from radiation in late afternoon, we both take Milo for another walk. Milo is very fit and so are we.

Yesterday’s treatment involved as usual the same batch of patients. We sit together in the waiting rooms. A kind of conviviality has developed. We are all in the same boat. Life is precarious enough without cancer. We become even more tenacious by hanging together sharing our plights. The man with the prostate cancer confessed he had become impotent. ‘This treatment did it’, he told the room. The wife looked annoyed. ‘Is that all you ever think of’, she said?  He looked to be in his late seventies. ‘No, it is not all, but I always enjoyed it’. ‘It’s a major part of me;’ the husband said proudly.

‘There is more to life than just that’, his wife replied. ‘Just think of the nice holiday we will have when going up north to the sandy beaches of Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. ‘I am not talking about a holiday’, he said. ‘I can’t crack it anymore’, he added. This time he was miffed. Perhaps the wife did not give enough credit or importance to his masculine side. I too thought the wife might have handled it a bit more diplomatically.

The husband looked around the room hoping for support. I could only mumble;  ‘they are different types of enjoyment.’ ‘A holiday and sex are different things’, I added optimistically.  Another supporting male lifted the spirit of the husband. He seemed pleased and continued, warming up to the subject. ‘For my whole life I woke up each time with a ‘morning’s glory’, he enthused, followed by a more sombre;  ‘not anymore now though.’ For the uninitiated, the morning glory refers to erection. It reminded me of another expression. A rather coarse one; ‘cracking a fat.’ This was a popular expression between trade plumbers or sewerage specialists. In the US they refer those sort of remarks to; ‘locker room talk’.

 

The waiting room’s atmosphere really warmed up now. Almost like a locker room. The husband looked somewhat triumphant having brazenly confessed his declining state of morning’s tumescence. The wife sighed, shrugged her shoulders.  I subtracted that she might well have endured her husband’s libido for peace sake more than for her own joy. Sex is often overrated. It doesn’t get you anywhere. I often prefer a good book or a herring.

A younger female patient joined in and  gave a much needed supporting sigh to the wife. ‘Those men.’ she said defiantly, ‘they are always banging on about their own things’, she said. She told the room that she has a brain tumour which had spread to her lungs and liver. She has two boys of seven and nine. After finishing her story of plight and worry, the previous issue of erections and cracking, seemed trite. ‘That’s life’, she said. She seemed happy and was accompanied by her mother. I thought, at least she will have her mother to look after the boys if she doesn’t beat her cancer. It seems such an unfair business.  The room became quiet again. One hears miraculous stories of beating the worst diseases and ailments against all odds.

Let’s hope the mother of the little boys survives.