Posts Tagged ‘Aldi’

Does it ever stop?

March 20, 2017
IMG_0827windflower

Japanese Windflower

The dream of retirement was always to be a time of reflection. You know, reap the fruits of love and labour. So far, it has mainly been the peelings. Life doesn’t really let up. You see those ads of elderly couples swirling about on huge opulent large multi-storeyed ocean liners. A magnificently gowned wife having a glass of wine in one hand and with the other hand holding a rambunctious ruddy faced husband.

The video then takes you to the liner’s cabin (with ocean views) where the same husband with spouse, retire to their enormous red rose petal strewn bed, leaving no doubt that even in retirement, their conjugal activities are still hale and hearty, not having shrivelled or waned at all. Apparently that is a misconception. The elderly are shown as keen and eager as ever to have  sex. Not true, it’s all fake!  It’s fake sex.  In advertising the winning technique is always to show the opposite of reality and truth. That’s how advertising works. That unobtainable and forever elusive search for ‘happiness’, brings in the customers. The truth is that the elderly are more likely to engage in naps, study Aldi’s catalogue, enjoy domestic bickering, but rarely engage in wild sex with rose petals. Their rusty limbs just don’t allow that anymore.

This all because we are now finally getting our air conditioning installed. We signed the agreement some weeks ago. And no sooner had we coughed up the 10% deposit  were told that during the extraordinary heatwave they had been swamped with request for installing coolers. Since the heat left and the weather cooler we did not mind waiting. That’s what is nice about retirement. One becomes time rich and easy does it. This Thursday it is to start and we are excited. It will be nice to have the house comfortable and those wild swings between heat and freezing somewhat controlled by the push of a button.

For some months now we have been tossing up about going and sail away over the horizon. Helvi is still not keen at all on sailing away somewhere. “You are dreaming and letting go of all reality,” she says, while looking at me with those large true-blue eyes of hers. “You will be the first to be bored shitless,” she adds. “Yes, Helvi, but they have libraries and lots of shops, “I tell her narrowing my eyes. “No, it will just be waiting for eating and swallowing food, endless meals and snacks,” she adds to a pile of previous objections.

“I always like travelling when we did not know where we would end up sleeping, that to me is travelling,” she said. “Yes, but we are now too old. I am not going to sit in a bus travelling in Turkey, having a bout of intestinal hurry and on top of that not knowing where we will sleep. We are too old now,” I say with some earnest vehemence.

“Let’s just get the air conditioning out of the way. Keep looking at your Ocean Liners videos”, she adds.

It never lets up.

 

 

The rain, glorious rain

February 7, 2017

 

 

!cid_B39359ED-0A74-4D2D-B20B-21CE39AA684EWhat is it about rain that is so uplifting? Does it soothe the world or at least calms it? You know the patter on the metal roof or the drip drip echo in the down-pipes has a melody. Listen carefully and soon it begets a rhythm all by itself. It is music. With heat so relenting, who wants sunshine? Yet, this is what many desire away from sun and warmth. The millions dreaming of lying in the sun, baking away. So depressing. My dad hated beach and its abrasive sand and stark sun beating down, scorching bodies. I must have inherited the same gene. People living in the tropics always seek shade and so do I. Most fortunately, we both share this need to escape from sun’s glaring stare.

I took time off to get quotes for air conditioning. There are many variants of cooling and heating houses. The mind boggles. Choices have to be made. One can have models that are bolted on the wall. They can blow hot air during winter and cold in summer. Other types do the same but done through ducts that are fixed above the ceilings. They are more efficient and can do the whole house instead of just one room. Another choice is to get the temperature regulated by using both gas and electricity. Then the latest, having all this done through ‘inverter’ technology.

An Inverter is used to control the speed of the compressor motor, so as to continuously regulate the temperature. The DC Inverter units have a variable-frequency drive that comprises an adjustable electrical inverter to control the speed of the electromotor, which means the compressor and the cooling / heating output.”

So, you can see where my thoughts have been lately. I try and get Helvi on site by giving her some literature given to me to study by the installers of air conditioners, but she declines to get involved or enthusiastic about technical stuff, especially the ‘variable- frequency driver..’  The proliferation of ‘choice’ is what seems to become more and more embedded in what we buy. A new oven now comes with so many buttons, so many options, people end up not using the ovens. Some are forced to go and eat out or take out meals. I see now so many running through the main street with pizza boxes or plastic bags with square boxes towering on top of each other. You can smell the Black-Bean beef, the Szechuan chicken and boiled rice, if not the foot-long bun with Frankfurter trying to escape lubricated by the tom-sauce.

Someone stole my ‘Apple’ account and even gave me a ‘Cloud’ address based in Moscow. I could not download e-mails. Not a disaster but I frightened they would steal money next. I went ‘on line’ and changed the Apple account. It was again forced in having to decide on so may options and choices. A nightmare. How do we cope?

You can now make transactions by tapping cards here and there. My brother’s car opens up by waving his hand near the door. I don’t really like those choices of tapping and waving. It feels idiotic.

My sister in law is a hard-core traditionalist and insists on always making her transactions in real person by first insisting on seeing the real person teller at the bank and making withdrawals and then go to the Post office to pay her bills to a real person. I too used to do this. I must confess of having failed the traditionalists and pay ‘on-line.’ I haven’t used the tapping card mechanism at Aldi. I always pay cash because it is quicker. I sometimes can’t contain myself and shuffle impatiently when a shopper seems to take forever tapping and putting in numbers over and over again. I yawn loudly or sigh loud. It is especially annoying when this card tapper is also guilty of buying rubbish pre-digested processed food or worse, lots of Coke or Corn-fruity loops.

Normally, I am easy-going.

 

Getting down to Earth

February 2, 2017

img_1059the-heat

With the heat of the last few days in retreat, I’ll try and revive a few more words. Words tend to wilt with anything over 26c. If not wilt, melt. Like butterfly into buterfy or wedding into bedding. Letters faint, drop off. In the meantime. Let me recall some of the last few days. Of course, the minimum requirements during heat are plenty of electric fans. The double glazing is fine when the nights cool off. Eventually everything gets hot and an itchiness develops to just survive breathing in and out.

One of the advantages of large shopping malls or even small ones is that they are air-conditioned. Dire warnings for elderly to stay well hydrated, avoid sun sugar seek shelter, stay calm. It wasn’t helped reading more people die of heat than drownings. We sought refuge in Aldi, just sauntering around the oranges and broccolini. It is amazing though that the the big ones such as Woolworth and Coles that advertise on the Telly, are losing custom. You won’t see Aldi on TV. Yet Aldi is taking away shoppers in droves from the big supermarkets. It are the Mercedes and BMW’s that now glide in and out of Aldi’s parking stations.

Svelte bouffant blonde ladies carefully going over the specials, bending over sweet potatoes, fingering the carrots that one is likely to encounter at Aldi now. Men in Country Road shirts, camouflaged shorts with many pockets lingering around the tool section, contemplating sets of spanners or paper shredders. It is so relaxing. An escape from heat. I wonder if taking a couple of easy fold-out chairs into the air-conditioned splendour of Aldi would be objected to? I mean a couple of oldies just taking it easy?

During one hot night. I took to extremes. A fold-out bed under the fan. Desperate measure.  The fold-out bed is about twenty centimetres above floor level. Pretty handy, I thought. A bit like going back to my camping days. But, again for each progressive move forward, a punitive counter move. With the much lower centre of gravity I could not get up when a call of nature beckoned. Let me tell you. Getting older is in direct proportion to toilet breaks. The less years ahead the more toilet breaks are engaged in. After a few attempts in trying to get up by using available leverage I found out my limitations.  Sitting up was achieved but not actually standing up. I felt helpless. I needed nurse. I considered just letting it just flow all out. Who cares?

The mind gets active in emergencies. I thought that if I rolled out onto the floor first I might just be able to get up by the help of the coffee table next to the bed. I managed to do just that. I first dropped my feet on the floor, followed by legs, than my torso, chest accompanied by neck and attached head. I rolled over and by arching my knees managed to get enough off myself  from the tiled floor to reach the top of the coffee table. The rest was easily managed. I felt so proud. Almost did a Tarzan’s jungle call but thought it would alarm Helvi. She slept well elevated above ground level in our communal bed. I went to the toilet triumphantly.

Another handy hint during the present heat-wave is for the elderly to seek shelter in the local hospital. We are living right next to not one but two hospitals.  A public hospital and a private one. The Public hospital use blue-tack and sticky -tape while the Private hospital  gives you a free pen to sign over your wallet.  One could just find some excuse or ailment and take a comfy chair in the emergency department. They often have lots of magazines. Many waiting patients can be engaged with comparing levels of ailments or the latest government pension cut backs. The wait for triage nurse always a thing to look forward to. Her soft caring hands wrapping the different bodily measurements equipment around your arms. I tell you, it is not a bad option.

Think about it!

The birds understand.

November 15, 2016
Birds always understand

Birds always understand

The cabin that we escaped to was even better than expectations. It was tucked between ocean and bush with a mostly deserted beach in between. It had a very large and wide veranda decked by timber slats and covered overhead by a high cathedral shaped corrugated roof. The ideal retreat from US political turmoil and the night-mare of a Trump-led future. The image of him swaggering around the US, lunging at genitalia, building walls, exporting millions of Mexicans and Muslims became unbearable. We had to go away.

We had just unpacked the car and put milk and the lamb-curry in the fridge, when the first of the birds arrived. You could tell they expected something from us. They looked at us and insisted on making beady-eyed contact. Bird’s eyes are often beady and rather penetrating. When still living in Holland’s The Hague, I kept many pigeons on the veranda two stories up. I started communion with birds rather early.

It is always a good move to try and befriend birds by offerings of food. I broke open a packet of Aldi’s almond meal and marzipan little boat shaped cakes. It is one reason we made a last minute shop to Aldi. It is about the only sweet we sometimes allow to arrive inside our home. Both of us are not fond of sweets. I am much more of a herring man and H.is very keen on any food related to anchovies. We had rented cabins before and then as now, we had taken this marzipan-almond little tarts as a special treat. An Oosterman treat really.

The two coloured birds were getting excited. This is true, but only as far as it is possible to detect excitement in birds. They now moved their eyes to the almond cakes. I broke some off and put it on the railing just a metre or so from the chair. Well, it hit the right note. They immediately gave notice through the tangled jungle. ( in their own language) and all of a sudden all their mates arrived. They share, you see. No building walls, and birds don’t spread discontent or fear.

Just now I remember feeding seagulls in The Hague. A lake opposite, and around the Royal  Palace  was keenly visited by seagulls. All you had to do was to hold a piece of bread, and a friendly seagull in full flight would swoop by and take it from your hand.

A great memory.

The second book for Seniors has arrived.

July 22, 2016

41yjSAQeq1L__SX331_BO1,204,203,200_ oosterman treats

https://www.amazon.com/Oosterman-Treats-Philosophical-Musings-vasectomy/dp/099458105X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1469075634&sr=1-1&keywords=oosterman+treats

The second book has arrived and is now ready, able and willing to be read. ( and bought) It has come with less trouble than the first one. Some of the pictures had to be reduced. I kept getting messages that the images had to have a minimum of dots or digits. A mysterious image of a shifter-spanner also kept appearing in the returned proofs from Createspace. Apparently something to do with Microsoft Word and unprintable Headings and Footnotes. How people know those things is something that will always delude me. The title ‘Oosterman Treats’ is the only title in the whole arsenal of Amazon. At least that is unique!

The next phase will be to market it. Again I’ll try and go around the local bookshops after enough courage has been gleaned and stored. I notice that some people go and do Toastmasters’ course in public speaking. I am practising my approach to the shop manager in front of a mirror. ‘Hello, howz ye going? I am a local author and wonder if you could put up my title(s)in your shop?’

This is followed up by trying to stay as straight and upright as possible. An image of confidence has to now take over as I wait for a reply, unwavering and with enough fortitude not to crumble or show some dejection. Things haven’t been easy when it comes to present my author’s mien.

A confessed love for roof cavity inspections, no worries. A perusing of dogs and ducks, easy peasy. A raconteur with the Aldi’s cashier girls, brilliant verbal skirmishes. A critic of everything political, even people. Australia, Holland, The UK, the US, and everybody all come under his fire. He is verbosely loose, and banned from blogs, but awesomely inspiring.

The idea of self promoting my book has gained though. I now have two on offer. If a refuse comes with showing the first, I can, with a sweeping and magnificent flourish, whip out my latest, ‘Oosterman Treats.’ from my book satchel strapped on my back. The blurb ‘post my vasectomy’ should get some attention.

We shall wait and see. ( get your copy now, available Amazon paperback and kindle).

Relief for Seniors with Sun and Shadow.

June 13, 2016

IMG_0904after the flood

With the world reeling from disasters, one could be forgiven for keeping the TV’s switched off. After the recent flooding, he was seen to hurry to Bunnings to buy wooden beams, some tubes of strong adhesives and bitumen paint. Bunnings of course, is a large hardware chain which sell dreams for the handy-man and home DIY…(Do-It-Yourself). They are huge. In a clever move to involve both men, and women, Bunnings introduced classes in general homecare, such as minor carpentry, basic plumbing, clearing drains, and tool handling for women. Last year the classes were combined with line dancing. It included face painting for the kids, and on Saturday they have Lions Club volunteers raising funds by selling Barbequed sausages, and onions on sliced white bread, with a variety of sauces. The kids and husbands love it. Bunnings is to hardware what Aldi is to food.

He had felt it his duty to try and prevent future water inundation, even without wearing pyjamas. After measuring the distance of the required levy he lowered the back-seat down in the car. He only recently discovered this possibility. It doubled the capacity to carry wooden beams to almost twice the lengths. He finally also read in the car manual that the reason his car did not carry a spare wheel in the back, was that one could drive with flat tyres. He had given up reading the car manual. He kept falling asleep. Instead read yet another Mankell thriller. Apart from some Ruth Rendell books, he never was much into crime books…

His recent book marketing and selling of his own book had come to a bit of a hiatus, and the recent threat of minor flooding was just the ticket to lift him out of his beloved tendency to nurture gloomy feelings. Something that he tended to do anyway without any outside encouragement. He had often told himself that his efforts to publish his memoirs was for the family to deal with in case he went missing in action, or had carked it. Not an unreasonable assumption, seeing he was nudging seventy six years in total so far. He was previously given to pondering he would like to leave something a bit more substantial than just his faded Municipal Rate notices or his record of Dutch and Australian pension entitlements.

Almost There

He found himself humming ‘when the Saints come marching in’ while driving home with the necessary wooden beams poking against the back of the front seat. A box of liquid nails adhesive was secure on the passengers seat. He was going to glue the beams outside near his garage door to form a barrier, and prevent future flooding. He had written a stern note to the Strata Body Corporate but the courtesy of an acknowledgement was yet to be given. He did not really want to rely on the blocked stormwater drain to be fixed. Even so, he did notice a remote camera for sale at Aldi’s with the necessary cables and manual. The camera would come in handy to send it into hard to reach areas to investigate any problems. It is amazing how technology outpaces the elderly now. No doubt the camera could be sent into the drain and transmit in detail any blockage. Something to ponder about for the future.

After arriving home and unpacking the beams he got stuck into the job at hand.

His wife noticed he was very cheerful.

Sustainable future by remaining upright.

June 2, 2016

imagesautumn
The man in the park looked wishfully at his surroundings. It had just rained and the trees were not only shedding the last of the leaves but also heavy drops of water. The creek was running fast, yet the ducks had no trouble paddling upstream. No doubt the first of the eggs had been laid. The drakes were on guard, and only the reeds knew where they were hidden.

I recognized the man and his grey little dog. Both are regular walkers. He might know me too but I am unsure. Perhaps he remembers a few years ago when he had slipped in the wet grass, and was struggling to get upright again? There isn’t a lot of dignity in having reached a stage in getting older, when being upright is starting to fail. Perhaps that’s why he might prefer to remain anonymous to his sole witness. The ageing gracefully extracts a price when prostrate on wet grass with curious ducks looking on.

As I said earlier, I had noticed him before on my own walks. He walked with some difficulty. He took little steps. He once stopped and told me he walks each day. ‘I still walk for miles,’ he added proudly. People on the whole still get around, but mainly by cars. Walking is now seems the sole privilege of the old. The young drive or are being driven.

I noticed him lying on the wet sloping grass. He must have slipped and had let go of his walking stick and dog. He had trouble getting up. I asked if I could help. He did not say anything but I got him upright anyway and handed him his walking stick, and his dog with a lead. The whole procedure was then keenly watched by some ducks, and Milo our own dog. The ducks are fed regularly by other walkers, mainly mothers and young kids. The ducks must have thought it was taking some time for the old man to give them the food.

I haven’t reached the age yet of unable to get up from the prone position. But, it is strange how of late I do study old people and their ways of getting about. I keenly observe their gait. Are they using aids? Do their partners nudge them onwards, prop them up a bit, are they a bit wobbly? Do they look vague? Shops are more and more selling equipment for the elderly.

Aldi is at the very cutting-edge of elderly care. They sell everything from mobility scooters, to hydraulic toilet-seat lifters, Chrome bathroom grip holders, tri-pod walking aids, incontinence pads for the bladder-intestinal-harried sufferer. People are not shy. I noticed an elderly gentleman throwing his packet of incontinence pads, with cheerful abandonment, on the conveyer belt. I am as yet not that brave nor incontinent. But, it will happen,… eventually.

On my last medical visit, I was given a thorough check-out. I did not ask for it. It is now a Government initiative to get the old on-board. ‘You don’t suffer Alzheimer at all,’ the old doctor informed me. This was based on my ability to follow an order and fold a sheet of paper in half and put it on the floor in front of my feet. I also remembered three words; ‘chair, sea, and dog,’ after a delay of more than 3 minutes.

Amazing!

I’ll have TV with Sound-bar, please.

April 7, 2016
Milo at peace with the world

Milo at peace with the world

The latest to hit the commercial world is a sound-bar. I heard people talk about it in the Bowral Strawberry coffee lounge. ‘How is your sound-bar going?’ The question was put by a lady in her late fifties bravely wearing tight white jeans and a floppy top with those hanging wings that at times can conveniently hide the possibility of a bulge here and there. The receiver of the question was a man wearing a bright pink striped shirt and a hat shaped a bit like a Dr Livingstone helmet. I had seen him before. A well know Bowral eccentric, of which there can never be enough.

The conversation got lost with the embarrassing and unashamedly endless high-pitched barking of our Jack Russell, Milo. Despite all our efforts, Milo still goes nuts at the sound of a Harley Davison. We have asked several motor bike riders, before they mount their bikes, to allow Milo to have a good sniff and total freedom to whatever he might want to engage in. Bite the muffler or attack the pistons etc., even the rider. Milo does nothing he just stares at the bike. What goes on in his wise little brain? However, he does know we don’t like this behaviour and tries to be extra nice afterwards. He kind of wags his tail and settles down, but only after he has disturbed the serenity and peace of all the other latte sippers.

But, back to the issue of the sound-bar. Some months ago a large electrical retailer went belly up and into liquidation. No buyers could be found to try and rescue and save the hundreds or so retail shops scattered around Australia. There are now big signs on the Dick Smith shops ‘Closing Down,’ all items MUST be sold. This draws in the bargain hunters. We have been, for some time now, contemplating buying a larger TV, especially one with a better sound. The ears are getting worse with the approaching station’s terminal.

It wasn’t really urgent. We rarely watch TV much, prefer the sound of silence, as they say. If sounds are sometimes heard, they are most likely be our domestic voices; ‘How did you sleep’, or,’should we go for a walk now or later?’ Sometimes a more pertinent question;’Does this rubbish go into the red-lid bin or is it for the yellow one?’ Of course, the Danish-Swedish productions we always watch. ‘The Bridge’ we would stay home for, and perhaps even our own ‘Janet King’ with Marta Dusseldorp.

After all the weighing of the pros and cons we walked into our own Dick Smith shops. The atmosphere somewhat gloomy. The shop looked as if it had been visited by bandits. The salesgirls looking sad with dust now allowed to settle on empty shelves previously occupied by IPhones and ear-attachments. A computer cable resting listlessly on the floor. Where would they now find another job? Business is all so reckless now. Consideration for alive people seems to have got lost lately. Have you noticed that too?

We stared at a row of special 40″ TV’s with the DICK SMITH logo emblazoned on the carton boxes featuring a brightly coloured Italian village hugging a steep cliff on the Mediterranean coast somewhere. Perhaps it was the Amalfi Coast! One could almost just have the box on a stand in the living room? Anyway, we asked for ‘the best price’ which came in at $399.-. ‘How is the sound, I asked?’ ‘Oh, not bad really,’ she said, looking sideways. ‘Ok, we will have it.’

After unpacking, and almost giving up on trying to wrench it out of it’s carton box, we turned the TV on. I thought I was hearing a message from the Station Master or my IPhone. The sound was like an announcement through the speakers on the platform of Bowral rail-station, ‘stay in front of the yellow lines, please.’

We had to go out and ask if anything could be done. My brother who inherited the same lack of hearing gene from our mother, spent $ 1200 on a ‘surround sound’ system to supplement the squeaky TV sound. The google machine was cranked up and after much research, a Phillips sound-bar was chosen. We bought the thing from Bing Lee for $ 299.- including a sub-woofer. It was a revelation. The sound superb and TV watching improved greatly.

A long story! Aldi is now selling 40″ TVs and separate sound-bars. Can you believe it? No wonder Bowral is excited and people ask each other; ‘How is your sound-bar going?’

A hot day, but all is still fairly normal.

November 20, 2015
Milo contemplating biting a bit.

Milo contemplating biting a bit.

After emptying the contents of the shopping trolley into the boot I noticed the car’s outside temperature was 39C. We decided against walking Milo around. He was keen, but we were not. Instead took him with us in the car. We took his water dish and water bottle. Both are kept in his own little bag. We always tie him up in the shade with his water dish. Within minutes he gets surrounded by admirers who queue up to pet him.

Isle Nr 5 at Aldi in Bowral is the one that has the liquor license. That’s right, one can buy butter and Whisky all at the same counter, and at the same time, and from the same cash register and no questions asked. How we have progressed. I reckon, eventually all the registers will be so bold and allow the sale of alcohol. It just takes time. Easy does it, especially in Australia where you can sit in a train, have a nap and on awakening still see the same cows outside your window.

Since Milo’s limping with a possible tendon problem we have to lift him in the car. He now also doesn’t jump on his chair anymore. He is wise to his problem and knows his limits.  Soon after Milo’s trouble, I developed an excruciatingly painful back. We are now in a kind of symbiosis where before, one were the strong and large with the other being small and agile. I barely am capable of lifting Milo in the car. He is small but surprisingly heavy. I know how to lift him and even go through a preliminary exercise where I ,ever so gently tell him, ” wait a moment, just wait a moment”, before gently lifting him in the car’s back-seat. I bend my knees as advised by hospital’s doctor. He gave me very strong tablets and they do help but are addictive, so I only take them sparingly or not at all.  I don’t want to end up mugging old ladies while wearing a hoody, kicking them in the groin, and stealing their Panadol Forte.

Milo allows me to lift him in the car. He does look a bit embarrassed but what can you do? He refuses to let Helvi lift him and bites her instead. Not seriously, but he is letting her know he is not happy with her doing it. We find it hilarious. The reason is that Helvi is action woman. She grabs and just does it. A no nonsense woman. Milo always refuses to do anything he is asked. In fact, often does the opposite. That’s why he is so lovable. He doesn’t like being grabbed suddenly and from above,  probably thinks another dog is biting him.

I told Helvi to calmly approach Milo and stroke him a bit first, gently lift him whilst whispering soothing words in his small ears. “Get f*&cked,” she told both of us. I am rather chuffed Milo doesn’t bite me and prefers Helvi. And yet, it is Helvi who makes sure he gets everything he might possibly want and much  more. He gets his wants far in excess of his needs. No wonder the world is in disarray.

This post seems to lack cohesion. The binder of what makes things stick together has gone watery. It must be the heat. 41C now.

But apart from that the day is turning out ‘normal’.

Re-visit the Eco Village. Is it Utopia?

October 22, 2015

photoThe geranium

We went back to Currumbin Eco Village to again search for the elusive Utopian way of life. We all know that it doesn’t exist. They say, it is the search and not the end-station that matters. That sounds a bit strict and pedantic. It is so personal. One’s Utopia is another’s hell. There are those whose dreams of communal celery fests or sweet potato gorging might well be found in the hinterland of some semi-tropical paradise, tucked at the bottom of a rarely visited valley, miles away from the frugality of Aldi or the culinary delights of Hog’s Breath restaurants. ( A chin dribbling Prime rib & Pork Combo for $ 42.-) It brings me to an observations on how anyone can be enticed to dine at such named restaurant? I mean, will you all join me at the trough?  Shall we slurp in unison and do a porker or a baconer? Yet, the Hog’s Breaths  cafes are hugely popular. It defies at least my logic.

ronald-old

Of course, and it goes without saying, that much of those fat, sugar and salt outlets are now under the micro- scope of our health ministers. The response of the fast food monopolies is to show photos of dew-dappled apples and juice exploding crispy celery sticks with all sorts of initiatives including helping the poor kids in hospitals with a Donald Trump look alike Ronald Mcdonald prancing about. This still doesn’t hide the fact that there is a world wide crisis of obesity looming that will easily out kill all wars being fought at the moment. In fact, it is a war like no other war ever fought before. Fast food outlets are achieving what all the rogue warlords with their laser guided bombs are not. And that is the indiscriminate killing of millions by selling addictive foods. All for the defence of nice profits and belching billionaires hoping to have a shot at some Presidency or owning golden Kingdoms.

The re-visit confirmed again that the title of Currumbin being the best Eco village in the world is well earned. Here are just some of the thirty accolades.

“United Nations Association of Australia

Building Commission Award for Best Sustainable Residential Development 2008

FIABCI – International Real Estate Federation Prix d’Excellence Award

The World’s Best Environmental Development 2008″

I thought that the most outstanding feature was that the community seemed to be connecting. None of that obsession of our privacy till the grave. No fences as proof of a demarcation of what is mine and that of which that is not yours. The houses higgledy piggledy jumbled at all angles to each other with at least some roofs facing the sun to carry the solar panels. I spoke to a few and they all loved living there and regretted not having made the move earlier. They cared about the landscape and worked together to make it even better. There were communal work bees in planting hundreds of trees and invitations to ecologists. There were a retired judge,  professors,  agronomists and agriculture experts living at the village. I was told many people living there were from Dutch, German and French backgrounds. I did hear their English spoken faintly in foreign accents from years ago. The European migrants of the fifties now getting old but happy. It looks that since the beginning of this Eco village in 2005, the hurdle of its hesitant beginnings have been overcome. It looks it is thriving and growing even stronger.

It is no Utopia but getting pretty close. It brings me to a fascinating bit of history which for some reason is kept well out of our history books. It is the story of the first  of the  Australian  diaspora.

I wonder how many of us have ever arrived penniless anywhere, away from own language and customs, trying to make sense of a world that is totally foreign? My parents did and so did many others.

In the past there was a group of brave Australians who did venture to a far away non-English speaking country with hardly any possessions, dirt poor. They were the very first of Australian Diaspora. They intended to set up for good, a new society with ideals of justice, sharing of the common good and away from the disappointment of what Australia had failed to provide them.

“We’ll all share alike, all be equal, and live as happy as turtle doves!”

“Yes, but who will do the washing up?”

This was the catchcry in about 1893 of their leader William Lane with a shearer asking the question about washing up.

The recent news about “The Tree of Knowledge” in Queensland’s Barcaldine, the birthplace of Australian Labor Party in 1891 as a result of the Shearer’s Strike, is what prompts me to write about this amazing piece of history that seems to have got lost somewhere.

It has me baffled that Ned Kelly or Bradman the cricketer rank in Australia’s history so much more than the heroic attempts by hundreds of Australians to start a new life elsewhere.

It is especially puzzling when amongst those Australians it included Dame Mary Gilmore (nee Cameron).

The Shearer’s Strike in 1891 resulted in many being imprisoned, when on March 7 a contingent of the United Pastoralists’ Association arrived at Clermont. They were surrounded by 200 rioting unionists.

At Barcaldine hundreds of shearers “stared down” soldiers rifles and hundreds marched behind the Oddfellows’ band. There were threats of woolsheds being burnt down, railway-lines being dynamited and things were getting out of hand.

Thus the Australian Labor Party (ALP) was born, and so was a communism believing group of people led by the charismatic, teetotaller and abstemious William Lane.

The seeds of leaving Australia to set up an Utopian community in Paraguay was born out of those tumultuous years both before and after the shearer’s strike when the pastoralists managed to introduce non-union labour including Chinese and Kanak non-union labourers, shearers and rouse-abouts.

During 1893 on board The Royal Tar almost 500 Australians set sail for Paraguay. They would try and set up a socialist utopia, live in peace and harmony, with equality for all. Can you imagine the feelings of those true blue Aussies and shearers to boot? On board were many tents, building materials, horses and buggies and also included a piano and organ.

After arrival, the men were to set up dwellings on a large tract of land that the Paraguayan Government had leased to the group providing that a minimum number of new Australian settler families would farm and cultivate that land within a certain time frame.

The group included many married couples of whom some of the wives and children would follow later, after the tents and other temporary dwellings were set up in the jungles of Paraguay. There were just 3 single women on board but many bachelors!

The present boatpeople arriving in Australian waters do not have a welcoming committee or a friendly Government that those Aussies had in Paraguay so many years ago. There are no speeches held, nor are they given tracts of land to cultivate.

Some of you will point out that the Australians entered Paraguay legally and that the present boat people are “illegal”.

Desperate refugees’ plights are far worse than our own 1893 Diaspora. Would it not be nice and civil and obliging our Human Rights obligation if the mainly Afghans, Sri Lankans and some others were at least allowed temporary settlement on shore rather than in the isolation of detention camps at Christmas Island, Manus and Nauru?

They might have been smuggled by unscrupulous dealers but they are not illegal people.

Australia is the least populated continent in the world. This is why migrants were and are still allowed to settle here by the hundreds of thousands.

My own parents arrived here with just the clothes they were wearing and a few suitcases. “Speak f***ng English?”, we were told, and Italians and Greeks were dark skinned garlic eating, knife pullers. Anyone darker and the White Australian Policy could prevent settlement in Australia till 1973.

The Paragayan Utopia failed for many reasons. The insistence of temperance by William Lane in favour of the local ‘yerba mate’ tea drink did not go down well with the Australians that had solemnly promised him total sobriety, (after a couple of beers), before departing from Balmain, Sydney.

A very youthful Caroline Jones retraced their steps and an ABC documentary was produced in 1975. The centenary of the 1893 departure of The Royal Tar was celebrated in 1993 which I attended with a few hundred others.

There are some books written on this fascinating piece of Australian history. It does not seemed to have gripped historians to any degree though.

Perhaps it is all too boring a subject. Perhaps the idea that Australia was once seen by some as less than a desirable country? Perhaps also that the word Communism is part of this story?

Who knows?