Posts Tagged ‘Australia’

Is Australia captive to inane trivia?

November 14, 2017

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There is a cake and pie shop in Bowral named ‘The Gumnut.’ On its front window it has a very impressive lists of ribbons of yearly ‘best pie or best cake’ of the year won at Sydney’s yearly agricultural show called ‘The Easter Show.’ We often in our daily walk stop to have a coffee and a pie. I still succumb to a ribbon or award winning meaty one but Helvi prefers the vegetable pie with roast pumpkin and sun-dried tomato. Each to their own.

Tomorrow at 10am all TV and radio Stations will broadcast the results of the $120,000,000,- postal vote on SSM. With all that is going, some Ministers and Parliamentarians will try and throw sand over the issue by putting up their own bills safe-guarding religious beliefs or matters of conscience. It is generally predicted through polls that the SSM will get a healthy 60% Yes vote and a 40% No vote outcome.

Many on the extreme right, will under the pretext of protecting religious or conscientious views try and make things more difficult than they are. Some politicians are using the example of cake makers forced to sell wedding-cakes to Gay or Lesbian couples against their conscience or religious beliefs. Can you believe it?  For some time now this cake selling has been popping up almost daily in adult right-wing Parliamentarians seriously rambling on about it on the TV.

One particular Minister gets red in the face about the prospect of SS couples being sold a same sex wedding cake. It gets worse. ‘What about those renting out wedding cars or those celebrants whose beliefs might run against SSM? And so it goes on.

And, while 15000 scientists are warning time is running out for the world to be spared the collapse of our ecology, Australia talks about wedding cakes to SS couples. Are shops at present sussing out homosexual couples and refusing to sell them vanilla slices? I don’t think so. I often see openly gay people munching away on cakes or sausage rolls. Who cares? Why would shops refuse to make a wedding cake just because it might get eaten by people born with a difference. What next. Stop selling cakes to people with beards or with blue eyes?

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-14/climate-scientists-issue-dire-environmental-warning/9147334

Yet, not much about the plight of hundreds of asylum seekers now after two weeks without urgent provisions of food, water and toilets on Manus island. Sometimes during my mind’s meanderings I wonder what my father would make of present day Australia. We used to be progressive and forward looking but now have sunk to inane and silliness. Who would have thought that wedding cakes would be discussed while at the same time being tolerant of untold cruelty to refugees?

http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/thousands-rally-in-melbourne-in-support-of-manus-island-asylum-seekers-20171104-gzevx0.html

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Is the battery permanently flat?

November 10, 2017

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One of life’s more perplexing events took place last Wednesday. The day started positive. The toast was just perfect with no burnt edges but warm enough for the butter to melt within, allowing the cheese to nestle itself in all its hollows and grooves.

The previous couple of weeks, things were far from comfortable. I caught a nasty flu. If a good diet prevents getting colds or nasty flu, I am almost prepared to believe the contrary, eating fresh fruit and different vegetables daily might well be the reason for getting sick. I am just kidding, the reason probably is found in doctors’ waiting rooms often being warrens for the viruses. Helvi had a cataract removed and I had to renew my thyroid prescription. The multiple visits to waiting rooms was asking for trouble. I just knew it. Helvi just now is recovering as well.

Each Wednesday morning is one of my my  weekly bowling appointment. Perhaps the flu virus was caught there. You just don’t know through whose hands those bowls have travelled. Each Sunday evening is the other bowling event. Again, with both being played indoors at Returned Soldier’s Clubs. The flu viruses must be having a ball spreading havoc.

Last Wednesday I played well and on leaving the club was given a nice compliment by another player. I like compliments and somewhat jauntily jumped in the car ready to drive home and have lunch. But, as I turned the key, the engine remained eerily silent. It did not kick over. Modern cars have complicated electrical systems. I thought that perhaps I wasn’t following correct procedure. This car has a computer screen and usually gives written commands.  Nothing appeared on the screen.

I phoned up my National Road and Motor Association and within half an hour was helped out by a mechanic who told me that the battery was not only flat but finished and proceeded with giving me a print-out of the faulty battery’s output. He advised me to go to the nearest dealer and get a new battery. I did this and as the car is under warranty got a new battery for free. I got home at least two hours after my bowling event had finished and was ravenous for sustenance. I almost relented and succumbed to a Big Macdonald’s, but resisted heroically. Heaven only knows what germs thrive in those fast food establishments with snotty kids slobbering all over the joint.

Aren’t we fortunate though to replace the occasional battery? It is different in our Government. We seem to be in a permanent state of flat battery. Nothing gets done. The ennui of nothingness is paralysing Australia. The only thing happening is a permanent lurching from one crisis to another.  The refugees on Manus and the problem of their permanent detention seems unsolvable and intractable by this inert Government in finding a solution. And all those Parliamentarians popping up with dual Nationality? Each evening we watch the news to see who is next to having another nationality. Isn’t it a hoot?

Australia has a flat battery and that is not good.

My free templet to ward off unwanted phone-calls

November 3, 2017

 

 

new cover 1704 front big Book cover 18april

De Kleine Beer, by Else Holmelund-Minarik is the original most loved children’s story I have kept all those years from when our children were toddlers. It has rested peacefully on my bedside table all those decades. Somehow, I still peruse the wisdom and sheer folly of its story. It seems to suggest that folly and wisdom might well be related.

When I get cold callers from a countries with strong Hindi accents, I now, without further ado, start to recite a page taken at random from De Kleine Beer. Most times at the end of just a few lines read in Dutch, the phone line at the other end is blissfully mute and very silent. It works magically. The true wonder of  good literature.

Here is just a one page templet for your free usage for those that are game and brave enough to try it out. It does no harm and is devoid of malice, anger or retribution.

Zo gezegd, zo gedaan. (As said, as done)

Kleine Beer maakt een pan vol soup. ( Little bear makes a pan full of soup.)

De eerste gast is Kip. ( the first guest is a chicken)

‘Wel gefeliciteers, Kleine Beer.’ (‘Congratulation, Little Bear.’)

‘Dank je wel, Kip.’ (‘Thank you very much, Chicken.’)

Hm,wat ruikt het hier lekker.  ( Hm, it smells so nice here.)

This is usually enough for the caller to give up and discontinue the call. I hope it helps. Please, let me know.

As an aside; Lately we talk a lot about Australian values and how they relate and might even be similar in many other countries, or indeed how they might differ.

Australia has as many good ordinary people as any other country we have lived in., perhaps even more… but what was going on when we elected people such as Dutton into power? We put the most inhumane man in charge of asylum seekers.

We must not ask the possibility of Frydenberg’s dual nationality, yet at the same time allow Dutton the freedom to make 600 refugees on Manus stateless.

Please read this link; The world is watching.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-03/manus-island-un-calls-on-australia-to-end-centre-stand-off/9117996

 

 

A state of inertia.

October 31, 2017

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We are now entering the pre-Christmas period. Watch out! We still get almost daily calls on our land-line from people who say they are from Telstra. But the accent and associated hints of turmeric wafting through the line makes me think of call centres. Often there is a delay on answering back with a hum of others talking. I used to be polite and explain we are happy with our service. ‘No Sir,’ yesterday’s gentleman assured me, ‘you have very, very big problems with your internet. You have to let us fix it.

I just don’t have it in me anymore to remain considerate and without any further talk put the phone down. Does all this market calling brutalise the recipients? I mean, there is a real person there on the other side trying to make a living. But the frequency of those callers is increasing. I know there are help sides which can overcome most of those cold callers but new ones seem to pop up. Even on my IPhone I get oddly worded messages with codes and strange pass words or numbers and to deposit $100.- or so. I know the main thing is to never open any of unknown e-mails or attachments which I religiously follow. I just try and imagine what it must be for elderly folks totally innocent of all those crooks lying in wait to take advantage of this IT technology. Oh, hang on. I am one of those ‘elderly.’

I know with the recent ABC 4 corners program highlighting the failures of the NBN to deliver adequate speeds to the outlets must have called out whole nests of cold callers offering ‘help’ to the long suffering consumers of data down loads. In our case, apart from e-mails and the ABC news and blogs we don’t generally down load ‘data’, unlike our grandsons who download in one day what takes us more than a month.

I don’t really know what the etiquette of answering those nuisance calls is. I have no mercy with those that are out there to pillage my wallet but what about those calling for donations to help the 500 000 persecuted Muslim Rohingyas fleeing Myanmar? Or calls from Médecins Sans Frontières?  Then there are those looking after animals or depressed whales beaching themselves. There are so many good causes and all deserve help.

Going back to those ‘Telstra’ phone calls. They are all done by massive call centres in India. I watched a program and there they are all lining up calling the world to change ‘service providers’ or do something with their service, any thing really that earns them some money. They wear a nicely pressed ironed shirt and have to do an English test to get this much coveted job. They proudly wear their name- tags from a  chain or clipped on their trousers. The wives at home, stirring the curry and boiling the Basmati, waiting anxiously and ask  ‘did you get many responses today, dear?’  He might well say he had such a rude Australian who had put the phone down and that could have been me. I once just answered in Dutch and pretended not to understand English, just showing the level one can go down on avoiding the call. Just putting the phone down seems so callous. Yet, it seems I might already have reached that level of callousness.

How do people deal with those calls?

Is the world becoming irrational or is it us?

October 11, 2017

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It just doesn’t let up. As each day passes the madness grows. A perfectly normal day brings news that would normally be seen as grotesquely unbelievable if not untrue as well.  The latest is that in order for Australia to pass the expected summer heatwave the Australian Government urges us we should think of saving energy by switching off our air-conditioning cooling systems or anything else that might save electricity. The Government will subsidise the customers by paying those willing to save energy handsomely with $ 250.-, and could even include tickets to the cinema or visits to Dreamworld with free water- slides as an extra bonus.

With Australia having the world’s largest reserves of gas, coal  solar, wind and everything else to produce energy, it has all been sold overseas and we are now  running short of electricity. That is the sort of ‘freedom’ the market gives when given unfettered reign. We can buy back our exported energy cheaper overseas than locally! The Government is in a blind and groping around like an amok running Weinstein in a hotel corridor.

Pensioners who want to stay cool could do so by gathering in the coolness of air-conditioned shopping-centres. Others are provided with handy hints on how to stay cool. Included in the list is using wet sheets before retiring to bed. It is suggested in real scout-master science that with the open windows, an air flow over the wet sheets might blissfully give some cool relief to the hot, bothered, and profusely perspiring resident.

It looks totally mad to me but then so much is madness. We have a ‘normal’ man going through a terrible killing spree for which a motive has yet to be found.  Apparently gambling on a daily basis is seen as ‘normal’ now. A President who is  unpredictable, irrational and impulsive and like madman throws tweets about, risking fire storms and annihilation in order to appease his own monstrous need for grandiosity. Not a day goes by without another show of madness on the news.

A film producer who made brilliant movies, has five children, and has now locked himself up in a sanatorium for sex-addicts. As if it wasn’t his doing, raping and groping around the corridors of power!  Mr Harvey Weinstein promises to come good and repair the damage after being healed of his addiction. A true to form trick of wanton Psychiatry giving an escape from taking responsibility by blaming a ‘condition’ over which they have no control.  The poor man!~

We have almost reached the stage of watching re-runs of Seargent  Bilko or Steptoe and Son, The Flintstones.  At least it was a real world.

Renewables, Wars, and Same Sex Marriage.

September 25, 2017
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Indeed

Isn’t it amazing that no matter what the science is telling us, there will be people denying the truth that coal fired power is now as outdated as the horse and buggy were in earlier days? The Australian government is beholden to some that just will not budge and will stick to the past, forcing up the cost of energy. They do this with the fervour of an 1810 Leicestershire luddite destroying anything and everything progressive or forward looking in their paths.

Just read this latest from ABC News; http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-09-25/the-truth-about-soaring-power-prices/8979860

We live in a townhouse sharing a joint roof but are considering going the whole hog and install solar panels with the Tesla battery back-up. The cost of doing that will go down as time passes. My guess is that with power bills reaching stratospheric heights there will be a tsunami of home-owners doing the same. It just doesn’t make any sense not to do this. The energy companies are shunning coal power stations like the plague and no one wants to invest nor spend money on maintaining the old ones except our Government staunchly defending anything that doesn’t move forward.

With a keener more forward Government the renewable technology could be hurried along by local shires to install complete off-grid power stations on vacant land that Australia has so much of, and bring affordable cheap energy to those in units or apartment blocks without roof space for solar panelling.

The transition period between the old and new technology could have been made   easier and economically more efficient if we were not burdened by the Neanderthal fogeys in our present Government. Where do they come from and who puts them there?

It is the same with this referendums on SSM. Some of the same parliamentarians taking great delight in venting their hate and torture on refugees are now venting their rage on those who want the chance for love to stand a chance, and pass laws making choice of marriage equal to all, no matter what orientation. They twist and turn to try and prevent the law from becoming kinder and more just towards those who might be different.

Some of those same Parliamentarians take great pride in the bombing of foreign countries where we have no right to be involved in, and do so without asking permission from its citizens by holding referendums or postal polls. Billions of dollars spend on keeping a few thousands refugees in jail, billions on fighting in stupid wars, and now even more billions in propping up old coal powered technology. Were any of us asked our opinion or approval to do so?

So why the idiocy of holding referendums on SSM in the first place? Is SSM more dangerous than fighting wars or holding refugees in jails. Sorry, to be meandering so long about this SSM subject but rest assured I am just as keen to write about much more positive stuff. I suppose the return of Germany’s Angela Merkel is something to celebrate but…, the extreme right has also done well which is not so positive.

Was our previous PM Paul Keating right, when he predicted Australia could end up a ‘Banana Republic? I need a good carpet bowling session at the local RSL club.

 

Is the end Nigh for Real Estate and Education?

September 19, 2017

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The news that the clearance rates at Real Estate auctions in the major Australian cities are dropping might well be welcomed by many. All bubbles burst and why not in housing? What should be of greater concern is that our education system keeps on failing our children. Language and numeracy results are lagging badly behind most developed nations.

Eminent educational expert keep on popping up on our TV screens  urging yet more tests. They go to American or UK  educational institutions trying to get inspiration in devising plots that will make a difference to the way we educate our young. At the same time our Government is twisting and turning in making permanent citizenship harder to obtain by devising English language tests for migrants and extending  years of waiting. We should really test our politicians instead of our school children or migrants.

Australia has this conundrum of many professional positions being unable to get filled by our own (badly) educated, and rely on Syrians , Iraqis, Indian, and many other well educated foreign professional experts to fill those positions. We often get experts on so many fields appearing on our TV with foreign accents. There are a dearth of highly professional positions that can only get filled by trying to attract overseas educated people. It seems the Government’s contempt for lack of migrant’s language skills ought to be sheeted home to themselves. It is embarrassing watching our deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce painfully searching for the words to express himself. Take out the verb ‘ensuring’ from our Prime Minister (A mere lawyer) and he too would have trouble getting his message across. Talk about painting the kettle black! Do your own English testing in Canberra!

 

Please, take the time and read this link which shows how education works:

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/why-are-finlands-schools-successful-49859555/

“There are no mandated standardized tests in Finland, apart from one exam at the end of students’ senior year in high school. There are no rankings, no comparisons or competition between students, schools or regions. Finland’s schools are publicly funded. The people in the government agencies running them, from national officials to local authorities, are educators, not business people, military leaders or career politicians. Every school has the same national goals and draws from the same pool of university-trained educators. The result is that a Finnish child has a good shot at getting the same quality education no matter whether he or she lives in a rural village or a university town.”

I don’t think that the apocalyptical predictions associated with ‘the end is nigh’ will eventuate but,  isn’t it about time we do things better?

 

 

Another day another adventure.

August 7, 2017

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Each day is an adventure that we have to make happen. It’s not just a matter of jumping jauntily out of bed and hope it might come about.

Last night was one of many evenings when we did not watch TV. The choice was somewhat bleak. A woman told her story of surviving a forty meter jump off a Brisbane bridge and why she did that. We had already read the preambles of her story. She had a problem with a new IT system introduced at her job which she felt she could not cope with. It did not sound very convincing.

This was soon to be followed by a program investigating the dismal failure of our recycling of  glass and bottles. It is used as landfill or being warehoused in huge sheds. To make things worse, some shifty middlemen wearing raincoats and fedora hats, made deals where in order to avoid dumping fees, the mountains of glass got railed or trucked interstate where dumping fees were not charged.

There we were, thinking Australia is finally doing something good by recycling glass while all the time they were importing new glass because it was cheaper. Thousands of tonnes of recycled glass is being dumped or warehoused. What about using the recycled glass into making new bottles even though it does cost more? I thought our ecology was important. We did not really want to watch that program either. It was my birthday after all.

It is hard to make each day an adventure when on top of all that, the Same Sex Marriage act is back into the doldrums. A compulsory plebiscite is on the agenda again. Remember,  in Australia we have compulsory voting! It means we MUST vote on the issue with the threat of punishment if we don’t. The Government in all its ‘non action wisdom’ is now considering if the compulsory plebiscite does not pass the Senate to introduce a postal vote on this SSM issue.

Poll after poll shows, that the choice in allowing all people regardless of sexual preferences of the sexes to marry is overwhelmingly accepted and wanted by the general population.  There is no problem and we can also rest in peace knowing marriage in whatever form or shape won’t be compulsory.

To make the day an adventure regardless of what we get so inundated with by negative news, I feel like going to Luna Park and go around on a great Ferris wheel or go for a ride in the tunnel of ghosts again. Whoop it up with some fairy floss, or just stay put and seek pleasure in the adventure of the daisies, birds and our dog Milo…

What do you think?

Is Sport overrated?

July 9, 2017

 

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Northern Territory detention centre for children

It wasn’t all that long ago when men and women were sometimes referred to as ‘sport’. Howyergoing ‘sport’? wasn’t all that an uncommon way of greeting. It sometimes still is used. Most countries enjoy playing sport but many if not most  men and women in this country hold the view that sport in Australia is absolutely sacrosanct and not to be fiddled with. Per capita we used to win more Olympic medals that most other countries. Thankfully that has come down somewhat lately.

In fact, going to the school halls of both public or private schools one gets the impression that schools are there mainly to teach students sport. Those large varnished boards nailed to the hallowed walls at school’s community entrances have the best of student’s sporting achievements all carefully emblazoned in gold-leaf lettering. One looks in vain for the best Math or English language students. The more prestigious the school, the more attention given to sport.

Perhaps the economy is impacting those expensive boarding schools now, but in the cinema we  get shorts in which schools advertise their academic menus which more often than not feature boys, and sometimes girls, scrumming around with balls or hockey sticks. I have yet to see school advertisements whereby a book features or a student is pensively looking at a painting.

This why it is so heartening to see that cricket is coming to its senses. Apparently some ‘tours’ are in doubt. There are payment disputes. It is all too complicated for some of us to get to the finer points of the ins and outs. I have always found it a baffling game of two teams wanting to get ‘in’ only to then, when finally ‘in’ ,wanting to get ‘out.’ With the dispute still not solved there is a good chance we will enjoy a nice Christmas without the tedious drone of cricket scores filtering through the vertical blinds.

But, the real bonus, nay, the icing on the cake, is one of our tennis players openly admitting he is ‘bored’ with hitting the tennis ball. What clear-sighted honesty. Such boldness in admitting that hitting a ball backwards and forwards isn’t all that it is cracked up to be. Surely, the king is starkers underneath all that emphasis on sport. A footballer who hit another one out cold has now been banned for life playing his ball- sport and is charged by police. Sport is clearly overrated when belting each other on and off field is the norm. Look how often enraged tennis players chuck their rackets. They take it all too seriously. Calm down boys and girls, smell the roses!

In a previous post I suggested that winners should be those that come last. It would calm sport down to what it should be. A concern and care for the opponent rather than a selfish need to be a ‘winner.’ I know that we are all urged by our Government to be winners and not losers but a fact remains that per definition a winner is just a single person. It is a silly aim. How does that fit in with being a country that prides itself on being egalitarian and just?

Look at that sad spectacle of a previous female champion tennis player, reduced now to simpering loudly against those that want to get SSM married. She has lost love for her own kind and that just isn’t  good ‘sport.’ No matter what physical sport one pursues, it is all doomed to slacken with age. And then what?

Our attitude to the refugees on Manus and Nauru sits strangely in all this chest-beating of what it means to have true Australian values. It just isn’t good sport, is it?

What it means to support and stand up for Australia. Have those values been allowed to drift away? Are the values of an Italian or Pole so much different? It all smacks of a silly form of nationalism. I noticed Trudeau from Canada publicly and loudly telling the world Canada  welcomes all refugees.

What would I not give for our immigration minister Dutton or our leader Turnbull to come out strongly for the refugees and for once show what it means to be a ‘GOOD SPORT’ and allow them to live in Australia instead of all the horse trading with America.

Moving About.

June 11, 2017

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Our daughter ‘moving.’

I still remember the day we left Holland to sail to Australia. We went on-board with a bewildering number of suitcases and four trunks in which my parents stashed the most essentials. Some items were posted separately, destined to arrive  after arrival in Sydney. These included my father’s ‘comfy chair,’ mother’s ‘Singer’ foot pedal sewing machine, our electric  Westinghouse wooden barrelled (oak) washing machine with other odds and ends. I remember mother being quite snobby about having an electric washing machine. It might well have been the first electric washing machine in the whole of  The Hague if not in the street. It weighed a tonne with an enormous motor which made the lights dim when switched on. The wringer too was electric with rubber rollers grabbing anything in-sight. My mother came close to being strangled on several occasions when a loose fitting garment or her dangling necklace were mercilessly grabbed by these revengeful rollers. One had to quickly push a roller-release lever after which the rollers reluctantly released the hapless victim.

My father’s easy chair facilitated smoking more than repose or rest, or at least that is what I had surmised in my toddler’s years. “Gerard, leave your father at rest, don’t disturb him”, was my mother’s oft repeated refrain. For some reason Dad needed a lot of rest. At that early age I associated resting with blowing curls of smoke. My mother could never have been that tired, at least I never noticed smoke escaping from her mouth. Yet, when dad was at work, she would often sleep in his chair, especially after recovering from doing mountainous loads of washing with an occasional escape from attempted wringer strangulation.

My father’s smoking was a ritual which involved a packet of Douwe-Egberts  tobacco, some cigarette papers, and a lighter that contained a wick infused with petrol. To light the wick one had to push down a little lever that would grind a small wheel against a flint stone which in return would then ignite a spark thus flaming the protruding wick.  This device had me intrigued for years. Later on in his life his choice of tobacco inexplicably changed over to Rotterdam Shag tobacco.

During the war, especially towards the end, no tobacco was available. The only people still smoking were those that risked life in clandestine smuggling or by those that had swapped and changed national loyalty with the German soldiers. My father’s forced rehab from smoking made life unbearable for my mother. At times, I would be urged to go out and scan the footpath for any cigarette butts which my dad would gratefully receive and somehow unpick and re-roll to relieve his nicotine addiction by a few puffs. Oh, Gertie ( that was my dreadful given name during the war) can you go out and find some butts for your father. The problem was that other boys were sent on similar errands. I remember a bigger boy from the same street ‘Anton van Uden’ who stole three butts that I had spent 2 hours in finding around the bombed out streets. Oddly enough, later on we became the best of friends. After migrating to Australia I visited this friend back in Holland and found him to be in a very sad state. He was unhappily married with two young children. In great confidence he told me “never get married, Gerard.”  We went out that night to a dance-nightclub whereby another man was threatening me with a surly drunkenness out on revenge, urging me to fight him. My unhappily married friend got up and sorted him out in seconds. The friend was a military policeman.

My daughter is now moving closer to the city, ‘where all the action is.’ It reminded me of our move back in 1956 to Australia ‘where all the action was also much in vogue’. My parents left with suitcases and four trunks, six children. My daughter with two teen-age boys has enough stuff to fill an entire boat. It is not as simple as it used to be. It will take days. We are helping her move and she will hire a ‘Truck with two men.’ Good luck.