Archive for the ‘Gerard Oosterman’ Category

Walking and vitamin supplementary quakery.

June 17, 2019

 

the grandsons

Our two grandsons and Mother with Grandmother ahead walking. 2016

We are forever being urged to keep walking. In times gone past we moved about using our legs which took us between different spaces. Inside our homes we still practice moving our legs till this day. Outside it is a different matter. I suppose, when the riding on top of a horse became fashionable, we managed to move a bit faster. In regions with snow and ice, skis and sledges were discovered, but, by and large we used our legs if we wanted to get somewhere…Some countries, the bicycle became a mode of transport which not only served to move people faster but it also kept  legs and body very fit.

This is now all gone. Since the invention of wheels and engines, the car replaced our legs. Not only that, putting wings and engines together gave us flight, and we can now use airplanes to get from A to B. I am not sure at this stage what I am going to arrive at, or indeed what I am aiming for, except that the reason why streets in Australia always seem to be so empty of people might be because we have developed a way of living whereby the use of legs slowly became less important. And the car took over. Today, when we want to go from one place to another, the car clearly dominates over our legs. People think nothing of living somewhere whereby even to get a loaf of bread or the newspaper, they have to jump on wheel carriages and drive the metal box on wheels to get a loaf of bread or a bottle of milk.

I watched a good program on SBS last night how in the US and Australia, the market for vitamins and all sorts of untested medical supplementary paraphernalia is sold over the counter without having to proof their worth of the product nor the veracity of the printed label on the product. . Here it is:

https://www.sbs.com.au/programs/vitamania

Is this why there are so many chemists around? They are a major money making enterprise and one questions to what extend is their concern for our health? Some of the larger chemical shop consortiums are listed on the stock exchange. The huge number of chemist shops are in direct proportion of how far we live away from shops and each other. Even here in Bowral with a population of 12 000, it is spread out over an area the size of Amsterdam which has a population of about a million. In Amsterdam people can walk to get bread, here in Bowral most have to plan a major journey by car or bus to do the same. We are almost next to major hospitals and that has come in very handy. We were so lucky!

It is not always so easy to live near infrastructures such as shops, schools or trains, because most cities and towns have zonings that are either commercial or residentials, and when shops are zoned commercial they generally exclude  residential dwellings. This means that people have to live away from shops or around the shops, and hence we revert to the car instead of our legs. We have cities and towns where very few actually live in those towns or cities. In the evenings they become empty ghost towns because people have gone home in their cars miles away.

Our way of building houses is very dependent on driving. So, by and large, people drive and give up walking, and that is why we are losing the use of legs and for many the only way to get legs moving and supple again is through joining a gym or get a rowing machine/weightlifing equipment stowed in the bedroom. Again to get to the gym, a car drive and not walking is the main mode of transport. It is no wonder so many now have to get knee and hip repairs done. They say; use it or lose it, don’t they? This might also be that  there is a link between our lack of physical movements (walking) and our love of supplementary medicines and vitamins as promoted in chemist consortiums/emporiums. We prop up of what we feel we lack.  Why have we developed a way of housing whereby we live so far from what we often need? And these needs are shops, entertainments, and streets full of people to talk with, and exchange some latest news.

I miss European cities.

 

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Schizophrenia; Care or jail-time?

June 11, 2019

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Left to Right; Frank and Gerard about 1942!

Last night’s 4 Corners program on the ABC featured the story of a young man who after many years of abhorrent behaviour ended up killing 6 people. It traced his days as a young boy who went through school whereby according to the friends and teachers he already showed up as a boy who was different, with strange behaviours who was increasingly becoming more and more erratic and dangerous. At 14 years of age the school went into lock-down as he had taken detonators to school. He gave as reason;  to blow up the school and get even with his fellow students for picking on him.

https://www.abc.net.au/4corners/time-bomb/11196092

James Gargasoulas was a troubled young man. The ABC decided to spend seven months on the story in order to point out that the tragedy not only could have been, but should have been avoided. It was clear that his spree of crime and violence was well known to the police and for some years. Nothing was done about him and one wonders why when the signs were so overwhelming and his behaviour so unpredictable that nothing was done to try and find out why his behaviour was so unpredictable. Why did it not get picked up that his mental state was in need of serious diagnoses and given some kind of mental examination and care? The only thing sure was the continuation and repeat of his unpredictable behaviour. He was diagnosed with Schizophrenia but none-the- less sent to life-time jail. He killed 6 people. It seems that the only place for mentally ill people who commit violence in Australia is jail.

This whole episode brought back the story of my own brother, Frank. He too was unpredictable and given to bouts of rage and violence. His behaviour too started well before adulthood. He too stood out and was different. His behaviour became unmanageable for my parents and at one stage after have stabbed one of my brothers with scissors was taken in and put in a mental hospital. This was back around 1958 or so, when Frank was just 19, and I was one year younger. His stay in that mental institution was something out of the middle ages or Bedlam. He would be wrapped in wet blankets to try and subdue him! Wardens would walk around with keys dangling from belts. I am just regaling memories of a period when I too was still a young man.

014Frank's birthday

(Right) My dear brother Frank in Holland, a few month before he passed away.

It was a horrible situation.  Our family suffered badly during that period. There was (as so often) a Royal Commission in the affairs of that Mental Hospital, Callan Park, but nothing improved. I am not sure if mental health has improved in the intervening decades! I doubt it. The episode of James  Gargasoulas is proof that mentally ill people remain undiagnosed and not given due care, no matter what happens, and what terrible deeds result from their unpredictable nature due to that illness.

At one stage my brother Frank jumped from a bridge and badly mangled his foot. After many years of bureaucratic battles my parents managed to get him back to Holland where conditions for mentally sick people already then were much better. For the rest of his life he was given good care and was no danger to others or himself. He spent a lifetime in a care institution where he would be managed  and looked after as well as possible. He would be given good care for his physical well being. He had an income for his cigarettes, clothes, or whatever he wanted. He had his own room with TV and suitable mobility equipment towards his latter years. He died almost two years ago aged 79. Below is a photo taken a few moths before he passed away. His life was not wonderful but he was given good care.

Frank could easily have ended up like the poor boy from Coober Pedy, James Gargasoulas now in jail. He killed six innocent people. It could have been avoided!

The dreaded mid-night knock on the door.

June 7, 2019

Image result for Midnight knock on the Door by the Gestapo

https://www.sbs.com.au/yourlanguage/turkish/en/audiotrack/sbs-turkish-news-25

Australia and its secrecy laws are now acted upon without regards for the freedom of its citizens.  The raids by the Australian Federal Police on the private home of a Journalist, Annika Smethurst, and a day later in the offices of our National Broadcaster, the ABC, ought to set off the alarms for those that believe in the freedom of the press to report truthfully, responsibly and without fear or favour. … its responsibility to those who elect and have faith in the government.

The raids by the AFP on the newsmedia in Australia have been reported worldwide. Australia is now looked upon with aghast and consternation, a country where anything goes to install fear by intimidation. Australia is the only country in the Western world without a Bill of Rights. This was pointed out as a possible reason why Australia has so willingly accepted and is still going through some very dark places. The Governments have seen fit over a number of years to pass laws that enable them to virtually do anything to shut down any criticisms of its actions. They do this by including almost anything the Government wishes to obtain or achieve as  being ‘secret’, and make them by law, excluded from thorough scrutiny. This might be why the exclusion of A Bill of Rights might well serve Governments very well and under that exclusion, gets a handy protection from nosy scrutiny. It’s strange how we ended up being the only country without a Bill of Rights!

Michael Kirby, a prominent judge, has questioned why Australia is so reluctant to have a Bill of Rights. Have a look at this.https://www.sbs.com.au/news/a-lot-of-wrongs-to-repair-justice-michael-kirby-calls-for-national-bill-of-rights_2

Look at our reluctance to accept equal marriage laws, the jailing of refugees who have done no wrong. Then, at earlier times, the horrible ‘White Australia Policy’ banning coloureds from migrating to Australia, the treatment of our indigenous Australians. The ‘Children over-board’ lies. The naming of all crimes in Melbourne invariably blamed on ‘Sudanese gangs’,and the calling of refugees on Nauru and Manus, rapists, killers and wife murderers.

Allegedly, Australia has been getting away with murderous behaviour by its soldiers in Afghanistan. This is being touted as the possible reason for the raids on the ABC offices by the AFP. The Government doesn’t want a light shone on any unwanted or unsavoury consequences of their chosen actions during that stupid war. This Government wants to get at the ‘whistle blowers’ who most often are the ones to dig around for truth. All journalists work with whistle blowers whose job it is to get to the bottom of dirty deeds and deals. As it stands now, they could end up being charged with breeching secrecy laws and jailed. This is scary stuff.

We have to be vigilant.

Australia, right now is in a dark place. We need the lights on, not off.

Nun’s wimples or a simple cyclamen?

June 1, 2019

IMG_0140white cyclamen.PNG

Cyclamen.

Winter has started and don’t the cyclamen know it! The fag-end of our autumn came with a furious storm that felled more than just trees, it also brought the return of a terrible drought. Sydney with its inhabitants of over 5 million and 650 suburbs is now again on water restrictions. Only hand-held hoses for watering gardens is allowed and strict penalties apply for contravening this law. In the past neighbours were encouraged to dob in those that would sneak out at the hollow of the night and furtively watered their beloved lawns. Short showers and single toilet flushing are now advised but still allowed, but for how long? ( ‘If its yellow let it mellow, if its brown flush it down,’ was a voluntary policy hailed by our Government as a resounding success during the last drought)

Our main water supply is behind a large concrete dam named Warragamba. it holds more in fresh water than Sydney’s harbour but it’s level is now at 50% which is the reason for automatic placing of water restrictions. The storms and unusual warm weather patterns are blamed for the water shortage with evaporation and  ageing bursting water infrastructures adding to its woes. Each time you get a return taxation credit in your mail in tax, you will get less service and more burst water mains.

But, I am all set on the beauty of life and the cyclamen I photographed today is proof of my determination to persevere in seeking beauty and avoid any thing detrimental to that pursuit, including the possible premature anticipation of not flushing the toilet in order to save Sydney water.  In any case we don’t live in Sydney and as far as I know we still have adequate water. On the farm we always had to be very careful with water as the only water we had is what we collected from our roofs. and stored in many tanks.

We always saved the water from our washing machine and used it to flush toilets and water the plants. Brushing teeth would never be done under a running tap and as for the dish washer, we never used it.

But now back to the cyclamen. I seem to not get away from thinking about nuns when I look at that photo and am curious if some viewers feel the same. It is not often anymore that one sees nuns wearing their long habits while wearing veils or wimples.

Here a poem by Gerard Manly Hopkins.

Heaven-Haven

  • A nun takes the veil
  • I have desired to go
  • Where springs not fail,
  • To fields where flies no sharp and sided hail
  • And a few lilies blow.
  • And I have asked to be
  • Where no storms come,
  • Where the green swell is in the havens dumb,
  • And out of the swing of the sea.

 

A matter of contrast.

May 28, 2019

IMG_0128 the daisy as bright.JPG

An Irish family who have lived and worked in Australia for over ten years now faces deportation because their 4 year old son has a disability which the government deems to be too much of a ‘burden.’ Unbelievable, and how does Australia keep getting away with these deplorable cruel acts? https://www.sbs.com.au/news/this-irish-family-is-facing-deportation-because-of-their-son-s-cystic-fibrosis

If it wasn’t for our retreat into our garden with daily sun and nightly stars we would have left this barren and morally depleted country years ago. To be honest it’s not the country’s fault really, and perhaps the idealisation of perceived better places elsewhere on this earth might be totally wrong. I happen to read up on Iceland and was astonished to read they have a law that prohibits women earning less than men. They also do not have an army and at one stage had a government with women only. They also jailed corrupt banking moguls. Those sort of facts about a country gladden the heart, don’t they?

In fact, we did leave many years ago and lived with our three children back in Holland for just over three years. That first summer was glorious with everlasting evenings. The sun did not go down till 10pm and woke us up at 5am. We bought bicycles for all of us and rode around without a worry with weeping willows bowing to the wind and in our faces. We made the move back to Australia because my family were living there and I was missing my brothers and sister. We also had Whitlam,  Bob Hawke and Paul Keating as Prime ministers who moved Australia into the twentieth century.

But, let me just look at the positive. A few days ago I happen to take the above photo. As I walked out of the door I noticed this isolated daisy having risen from the garden during the night. I took out my iPhone and took this picture. Isn’t it lovely? A shy golden nugget daisy nestling against the coarse bark of the Manchurian pear tree. They seem symbiotic. The softness and colour of the flower gives sustenance and beauty to the coarse barked tree which in return gives shelter and support to the daisy.  The flower is raising its head in gratitude to the tree and the trunk seems to answer with ‘no worries’, mate.

If you look carefully at the picture you might see a cane basket at the back of the flower. It was used as a laundry basket for decades but was past it’s use and started to break. Helvi put it in the garden and filled it with leaves and some soil. No doubt the basket will be reclaimed by the garden in time and more daisies will come up. It is a give and take, isn’t?

 

Autumn is leaving its leaves.

May 24, 2019

I leafed through the book on leaves.IMG_0125autumn.JPG

Autumn leaves.

Autumn is almost gone but with the warm weather it has been dawdling and only now the leaves are leaving. In a week’s time it will be winter and yet many trees are still in leaf. I took the above photo to preserve how beautiful leaves can be. Back some decades ago, I went through a period of drying leaves in books but still remember how a fascinating discovery it would be coming across those after a year or so, when opening the book.

I sometimes wonder what will be still showing when autumn befalls us and what be left of any of us? A photo album, my postage stamp collection, a few boxes of photos, copies of rate notices? A faded marriage certificate? (With many, perhaps divorce certificates). I recently found a yellowed certificate of quantity-surveying together with one of printmaking including lithography. What will be made of us when a great-great-great-great grand child in two hundred years time will decide to dig into their heritage and open up the drawers to find those long lost dusty remnants of our lives?

The beauty of a nice fall preceding a good refreshing winter is that it gives a chance on reflection. How did it all go? Sure, a good melancholy has always been welcome, give a philosophical escape, especially in late autumn. Many escape reflecting on the past, and find escape in petrol driven leaf-blowers or go gambling at a club, watch footy on TV or worse,  give vent to a hopeless despair by denigrating Muslims or the Chinese.

For many the watching of falling leaves has a lot going for it. It gives a respite. I love it!

The Falling Leaves

November 1915
Today, as I rode by,
I saw the brown leaves dropping from their tree
In a still afternoon,
When no wind whirled them whistling to the sky,
But thickly, silently,
They fell, like snowflakes wiping out the noon;
And wandered slowly thence
For thinking of a gallant multitude
Which now all withering lay,
Slain by no wind of age or pestilence,
But in their beauty strewed
Like snowflakes falling on the Flemish clay.

The Virginia Creeper will just have to sustain us now.

May 19, 2019

IMG_0099 Virginia creeper.JPG

Virginia creeper.

All our communal town-houses were originally planted with gardens which included the Virginia-Creeper shown in the above photo. This creeper grows very fast, mainly at night when everyone is sound asleep or if not sleeping, at least inside their dormitories. Originally, our townhouses had a united garden which included the Virginia Creeper. Sadly though, all Virginia creepers were taken out with the excuse that they are known to be destructive. A falsehood was spread that those fast growing climbers would by assaulting and climbing over everything, strangle brick walls and block our much revered and beloved guttering. We, against all advice and scorn of neighbours, held onto our Virginia for dear life, and even if it succeeds in strangling us and our town-house, so be it. It is amazing how gardening is so often seen as OK or mere tolerable as long as it doesn’t take over or threatens our own homes and ‘investment’ as one of our neighbours once uttered.

With last night’s defeat in Australia of the Labor Party to the Liberals against all odds, and the best of News Polls, and predictions, this contemplation of the Virginia-creeper might just have to sustain us for the near future. The near future is not to be taken in vain or too lightly. Perhaps a better phrase might be ‘our twilight years’ as both of us are nearing the eighties and for some things, time is becoming more of the essence. It would have been so nice to  have witnessed an Australia finally coming of an age where change for the better, would override the endless ennui of more of the same. How much longer can we look forward each morning to an Australia where Taxation cuts, Border Controls, sticking to contemplating the past, and Queen Victorian Gun boat diplomacy has to sustain us?

Just think how it now must feel to have for another three years a Scott Morrison as Prime Minister. A man who has on numerous occasions highlighted his belief in Christian faith but at the same time was almost manically keen on locking up for indefinite detention thousands of people who have done no wrong except for trying to escape from wars and bloodshed and look for a safe refuge in Australia. I wonder how those refugees on Manus and Nauru, now well into their sixth year of detention, are feeling today, hearing how their tormenter has been chosen as leader of Australia for another three years?

So much hope was invested in a change of leadership that would finally allow Australia to progress to a more just and fairer society. A society that would be leading in climate change and care for the environment. Today is a day where we celebrate the standing still of Australia. When will we ever learn, that change ought to be embraced even if change might at times fail? It is always better to have tried than not at all. Why is Australia often celebrating the fondness for looking back and clinging to the past? My parents who came here from Holland in 1956 would not be proud today of Australia. They wanted a better future for their children. My wife,  from a very progressive Finland and I with Dutch genes, are almost tempted to book a return to Holland.

We don’t have to look at Holland or Finland for examples of progressive countries. Just look a bit to the side and look to New Zealand. They have a leader that seems to thrive on progress, especially on a social level. Why don’t we look to our Eastern neighbours instead of our much beloved Western US, a nation that is being headed by a morally bereft President man heading his country knee-deep in a moral morass?

It has been New Zealand who offered  several times to take the refugees from Nauru and Manus. Our Australian Prime Minister with his Christian Faith held high on Pharisees  sullied sleeve, heartlessly refused each time. We will just go outside and look at our Virginia creeper. It will have to sustain us till the next time!

My poor country, Australia.

Terms of endearment for the fungi.

May 14, 2019

IMG_0094 a funghi

Fungi.

As I was trying to get into my car I noticed what I thought was a bag on onions lying in the patch of land next to ours. Have the neighbours come good and made a sign of contrition? You might remember the episode of the stolen cyclamen some years back now. Are they in a kind of mood for reconciliation by giving us a bag of onions? I rushed inside to tell Helvi about this bag of onions lying about. She, in her usual calm way, said’ ‘are you mad?’ Why would anyone leave onions for us as a gift? I said; ‘have a look.’ Which we duly did.

And the above photo is what we found on closer inspection. No onions but something just as beautiful, but I suspect, less edible.

https://www.anbg.gov.au/fungi/classification-names-identification.html

After establishing they were not onions I tried to identify this lovely group of fungi. Nothing is ever simple, and if you click on above link you will find out why. It is a world on its own. I bet there are people dedicated enough to spend their entire life studying fungi.

It really is an amazing world out there!

For those interested in onions, here is a picture of what they really look like.

Image result for onions

 

 

National jealousy Day in Finland.

May 9, 2019

Image result for National Jealousy day in Finland

National Jealousy Day, Finland.

 

It’s a well-known fact that through the decades the social democratic nations of the world consistently outperform most other democracies. And this outperformance is not just based on money only but includes social cohesion, societal levels of fairness and equality, empathy for others, acceptance and tolerance of differences, lower incarceration rates. Those social democratic nations are mainly concentrated in Northern Europe and the Scandinavian countries, including Finland.

Each year on the 1st of November, Finland publishes the names of all taxpayers and lists  all their earnings and the amount of tax they have paid. On that day, very early in the morning many people have spend hours queued up to get their first glimpse of those that have paid the highest amounts of taxation. It s seen almost like an honour to have paid the highest taxation therefore helping paying for the things that Finland strives for  to improve the country. Under the freedom of information Finland decided to lists those details in order to inform people of how much, where and by whom the taxation is paid for.

Have a look; https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/11/finland-has-just-published-everyone-s-taxes-on-national-jealousy-day/

In Australia we don’t publish a list of taxpayers but instead we have the annual list of the richest which seems to be shamelessly published each year. We seem to tolerate with a nudge and wink how most of those very rich are happy to evade taxation and there is a  sense of admiration on how in Australia we treat taxation as an evil best avoided and lowered as much as possible. Apart from the US I know of no other country where taxation is held with such contempt, all richly manured and egged on by our shallow lot of politicians.

Indeed, with the present race for a national election of Government, it seems essential by most parties to lower taxation and give back taxation to the people and seen by many as a Trump card to win Government.  At the same time we witness almost on a nightly basis, TV footage of the brutalisation of our elderly in our underfunded understaffed and undertrained ‘Aged Care’. Each time the Australian Government gives a tax cut, your mum and dad will suffer the consequences in Aged Care. Your son and daughter will suffer in education, and the pensioner will eat Spam and Gruel.

Think about it! Look how in the US, Donald Trump is twisting and turning in order to avoid making his financial records public. Is that true democracy or is this a disgrace? Look at how in Australia many private hospitals are now listed in the tax havens of the Cayman Islands. How is this allowed to happen?

We used to be a fair nation!

Gentle rain and Islamophobia.

May 3, 2019

Image result for jessica whelan

Jessica Whelan with Australia Prime Mister, Scott Morrison.

Our garden is getting a whisper of rain, gentle caressing the leaves and growing grasses quenching their thirst after a long and hot summer. The sky above is grey and coloured  lead with the promise of more to come. I can’t say that I dislike rain. It lifts the spirit of future growth and beckons the first of spring growth already noticeable amongst the withering Japanese windflowers. They are the Irises’ spikes that appeared  overnight when I wasn’t looking. We are having a most unusual autumn that so far has been more like a summer.

Between the gazing at our patch of growing and withering garden, and with the Manchurian pear now serious in dropping their crimson gold-leaf edged  foliage I undertook the task of cleaning our windows. It is not my most favourite domestic task which still is cooking of food. Mind you, with all the medical appointments, root canal treatment, hearing tests and cardiac investigations, we are now more likely to eat out somewhere. It seems appetites too get less with age, and with a lunch- out we might just forego a cooked dinner and instead have a salad with a piece of fish backed up by some crackers with Boursin before the comforting embrace by doona with pillow.

I have discovered that the spraying of the windows by the blue glass cleaner and wiping the glass with a soft cloth does a much better and quicker job than using the window wiper and bucket of water. Helvi swears I should not wash the windows with a sun bearing down on the glass. I refute that claim and reckon it is just an old house-wife’s tale. I proved it by blatantly (without further ado) cleaning a set of double glass doors in the full sun and they looked so sparklingly clean afterwards. No ovation from Helvi though. Does ageing make for better marital accords or do we become more entrenched in our believes, including prejudices?

Talk about radicalisation of our politicians. Who is responsible of the radicalisation of so many politicians who vent their hatred of Islam. We had this dreadful act of terrorism in New Zealand, killing 51 people and injuring hundreds, all of the Islamic fate… And yesterday the rant of a Liberal candidate in Tasmania. I am talking of Jessica Whelan.

Here some of the anti-Islam comments she made on Twitter and Facebook. “Round them up Donald, cut their clitoris’ off & sell them to Muslims in Muslim countries & cancel their passports. You’ll make a mint,” it stated.

Here another one of Jessica Whelan posts.

One called for a national vote on banning Muslim immigration and the other argued Tasmania should not accept refugees from Syria and Iraq. “Don’t bloody send them to Tasmania. We don’t want them,” it said.

And then there were those two men from One Nation Party, Pauline Hanson, who ventured to America to wax favours with the NRA in order be ‘donated money’  from the NRA in order to weaken Australia’s very effective gun laws while also making derogatory comments about Sudanese refugees raping and clubbing ‘decent’ Australians.

The question has to be asked who radicalised those politicians into this dreadful Islamophobic stance? Was it Dutton or Abbot with a nudge nudge from our PM Scott Morrison? It doesn’t come from nowhere. Who is behind it all and is it being investigated?

It seems the Liberal Party is riddled with Islamophobics and hatred.