Posts Tagged ‘Aspidistra’

The long years of the untouched aspidistra, and the parking station.

July 3, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Aspidistra and a Bed.

April 13, 2015
Aspidistra

Aspidistra

If one could compare an aspidistra with some marriages, it would not be far off the mark. The same conclusion might be drawn from home-made timber beds.  I am always in awe of those death notices in the back pages of newspapers reading how Mr or Mrs  Robinson passed away at over eighty or more, leaving a sad and bewildered partner , countless children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren. All to continue on and pick up the pieces, in that strange unpredictable fickle game which we call life.  I am of course talking about the aspidistra- like- endurance to keep going, making the best of all life’s problems. Actually, I should write ‘challenges’. There are no problems anymore, just challenges. We are all  ‘challenged’ throughout our lives, so we are told…but I remain suspicious. Be wary of the wisdom espoused from learned couches.

One reason might by that not long ago, life was supposed to be not really difficult or challenging. It was just a matter  of grabbing ‘solutions’. Remember the age of solutions? Huge trucks would thunder past with tarpaulins covering ‘banana solution to you from sunny Queensland.’  Our butcher,  when we were still living on the farm had ‘meat solutions’ written on his display window. “I’ll have two kilo of your best sausage solutions, please butcher!” And before that some of us might have a life somehow unnecessarily tangled up by not practising enough of ‘logistics’. We needed to get our logistics sorted out! There are some  of the brightest ad men in town thinking all this up. The psychiatrist couch is worn threadbare by endless queues lining up to sort out all that confusion. And it is no wonder. It used to be simple.

All this latest insight while sipping my first coffee at 5.30 am and staring at an aspidistra, sitting on the kitchen bench keeping an eye out for any eventuality. If aspidistra’s could talk! Helvi told me that it is the same one we had in Balmain in 1976 when we moved in after returning from three years in Holland. Helvi’s memory is phenomenal. She remembers having bought it at a market stall that is still being held every Saturday. The same market stall where I tried setting up a business selling chicken sates. It lasted just a couple of Saturdays. The smell of  raw chicken pieces on bamboo stick with peanut sauce was overwhelming. I don’t mind eating them. But amazingly, around 2002, and buying my sausage solutions I got talking to the butcher at Marulan (170 KMs from Balmain’s Sydney) who remembered my chicken sate all those years ago. He said; “they were the best chicken sates I ever had and the spicy peanut sauce was fantastic.” No small praise from a butcher! It is a small world indeed.

On par with the longevity of our aspidistra we also had a bed  that lived even longer. I made that bed soon after our arrival in Holland when we left Australia in 1976. We had taken our camping airbeds with us in the aeroplane together with clothes. All was packed tightly in four suitcases. We had no address to go to but had arranged to meet a mayor of a small town to whom I had written from Australia. He had published an article about art and community. We stayed one night in a hotel near the airport from where I arranged to hire a car. Next day we met the Mayor and he knew a farmer who had an old farm house for us to use while we found our feet. It was quite an undertaking with our three children, but we were young and adventurous, but perhaps on hindsight a bit foolish as well.

Family living in Holland

Family living in Holland

In any case, after we settled in the farm-house in North-West Holland on the second day after arrival, I bought a Skill electric saw and some dressed pine to try and make a bed. I had already made a bed in that rickety old Balmain cottage because the narrow curving stairs would never allow a double bed through.  I had refined the design to the simplest form. The matrass would rest on slats that were being held within a frame of four planks dowelled together with timber dowels. The whole bed would be flush with floor, so nothing could ever get lost underneath this bed, ever; not even a single sock. It was Queen size and totally demountable. It had no nails.

After three years in Holland we returned to Australia and straight back to Balmain. This time we had two large crates shipped over with all of our present furniture  including the home made bed that I had disassembled in a small bundle of slats and the four planks. This bed survived many, many years, with lots of sleeping and tossing and turning, sadness’s, crying and laughter,  actions. Even some unbelievable geriatric  gymnastics of latter years.

Life back in Australia

Life back in Australia

I don’t know wether we can draw any conclusions from all this, but I would suggest that making own timber bed goes a long way in the ‘logistics’ of long lasting relationships.  As for the Aspidistra, you can’t go wrong and is the least of life’s challenges.

They are sometimes called ‘cast iron’ plant. What does that tell you?