Posts Tagged ‘China’

Walking is good.

September 3, 2019

 

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Apart from admiring cyclamen we are now trying to go for our daily walks again. Over the last couple of months we were either busy getting dressed or trying to get undressed. In between we have had an  unrelenting regime, meeting with doctors, nurses, home-carers and physiotherapists. And that is apart from keeping up with provisions, paying gas bills and doing what my mother used to call ‘in between’ jobs. I have learnt so much about fashion. Believe you me, there are a perplexing variety of female  clothes with incomprehensible ways of putting them on. ( and off) Where is the neck or what are the arm openings and what are all those hanging bits about? And despite all that loose-ness in their clothes, why are the leg openings so tight and why also do the sleeves end up inside out?

So this morning it came about that we went for a walk. Not too far, as Helvi is still not as sure footed as she used to be before her crash downwards towards a concrete drive-way. We sauntered past our common drive-way where are neighbour was snipping away at the garden. He likes doing that but we wished he would allow things to grow instead of manicuring every bit of greenery in this place. But, live and let live with tolerance is the answer to cheerfulness and optimism. I am trying to stay away from grumpiness, so I greeted the neighbour with ‘doing a bit of a spring cleaning?’

We ended our walk at Bradman Cricket Oval. In the world of cricket, this oval is the equivalent in Australia of the Egyptian Pyramid of Cheops or The Great Chinese Wall. It holds The International Great Hall of Cricket.https://internationalcrickethall.com/the-bradman-museum-is-now-the-international-cricket-hall-of-fame/

Lots of buses with hordes of people all the way from India, Pakistan, Fiji, Shri Lanka and many other cricket loving countries visit this famous cricket mausoleum, and file teary eyed, past Lenin like tombs of expired cricketers. Donald Bradman is the most famous of cricketers, and new comers to Australia have been threatened to lose their visas if not sufficiently versed in Bradman cricket matches with correct dates, number of runs and Ducks mandatory.

We found a nice seat in the sun and Helvi and I really appreciated this nice park. The children and their mums were playing in a playground but noticed that the iPhone now seems to have morphed into some kind of umbilical cord. Most mothers allowed their kids to break legs or fall off slippery dips without even a flicker away from their iPhones. I would love to know what the urgency is. Should I ask?

Anyway, we walked slowly back home and our neighbour had slunk inside, happy with the day’s snipping and shortening of bushes.

We had a nice walk and had some yoghurt afterwards.

The conservative fear of the implications of ‘socialism’.

August 10, 2019

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American Conservative Union chair, Matt Schlapp was featured on the ABC ‘The Drum’. He certainly knew how to articulate his points of view, especially those held on his hero Donald Trump and in general his Republican Party. The arguments put against him by fellow participants on this program did come across somewhat paltry and weak. It just struck me that he came well prepared and seemingly knew all the answers. He said he was open to all points of view but vehemently opposed anything to do or associated with the idea of ‘Social’. I have noticed before that the word ‘social’ seems to bring out a kind of fear of a murderous Stalinist communism in some people. Mr. Schlapp and I believe his wife, Mercedes, are both of the firm belief that only Trump and his Party will bring happiness back again to the people of America.  His final words on the program was that when things are left to free market forces, problems will resolve themselves for the good of America if not mankind as well.

In Australia we have a move that seems to try and wedge people against China with some politicians barracking for the US to be allowed to install medium range missiles on Australian soil. The implication was that our choice in any conflict anywhere, ought to always be wedded to whatever the US might want to do.

We cannot change our geographical situation and are much closer to the Asian world than the West. Indonesia is rapidly growing and holds almost 300 million people which all live closer to Darwin than Darwin is to our biggest cities in Australia. With the present trade war between China with 1400 million people and the US with 325 million people, I doubt that China’s economic might will knuckle down before the diminishing US economy. Would it not make much more sense to try and stay friends with China? They are a growing nation with its own unique culture and history. But again, in Australia too, we seem to still have a fear of the ‘Social’ ideology. You know’ sharing and caring’ for people less well off, or less fortunate. I just don’t like that  we are being wedged towards choosing one against the other. We ought to stay friends with all.

With Helvi, things are improving. The infection in het left arm has healed and the plaster in her right arm should come off with a week or two. It will involve a lot of physiotherapy for another 6 months or so. We are both in need of a good break and are waiting for a period without appointments or chemo. It is amazing how we managed to get through it all which is more due to Helvi’s Finnish ‘Sisu’ than my own rather cranky demeanor.

 

The three weeks to go.

July 17, 2019

Three weeks ago Helvi took a fall. The surgeon informed us; ‘it will take a year to heal.’ I believe he wanted to let us know there will be a long healing process. It is always better to overemphasize than give false hope. I know positivity does make better and heal things faster than the Jeramiah opposite but even during the last few weeks things are looking up. We have at least managed to get some synchronicity in our ‘ bathroom’ functions, especially during the night, which made an amazing difference. There is now a rhythm in daily affairs.  Have any of you dear readers ever had to put dentures in your partners’ mouths? Try it.

I have learnt that the little things that men expect women to do on a daily basis is a lot more than are given credit for. My dad always felt entitled to put his feet up after work and somehow joined the chorus of men who thought that women at home  had it easy, a kind of domestic picnic, lounging about glancing through glamour magazines, sipping tea with oranges all the way from China.

We are both torn, and alternate between love and fury between us. It is difficult and when Helvi’s left arm got infected we thought, surely now things will turn for the better. The arm was again operated on yesterday and today Helvi is coming down from the anaesthetics helped with strong pain killers. The wires in her arm were removed and this will give one arm, her left arm, more mobility. As a sign of encouragement a single blue flower ( see below picture)popped up roughly the same time as a year ago.

On the political side; is it still worth looking at the news? Trump is manuring his hatred for everything that is decent and honourable, and things in Australia seem just as dismal.

I haven’t got much time to write and am sorry I haven’t been able to respond to some of you and your blogs. We sometimes put on some music. Helvi likes Leonard Cohen and somehow get almost non-stop of his music through the magic of a Bose speaker and the iPhone through Spotify.

IMG_0095A Star

 

The earnestness of an anti electric-car Prime Minister.

April 22, 2019
The Dementia                               Village

 

With the compulsory voting by punishment in Australia, it forces people to vote who haven’t got a clue. Or, if they possess any clues, they are most likely to have been spouted by the commercial world, especially the Rupert Murdoch world of inanities and plastic bubbles rolling around the sun-baked deserts of our suburban wastelands. You know how it goes; insincere policies are being uttered with as much sincerity as the shifty politicians can muster, this is of course then followed by an earnestness that can only result in becoming so boring that even  good sleep can’t make better or give relief to, it stifles all. We all know where the earnestness of politicians can lead to.

With Easter almost behind us, I can’t wait for normalcy to return, and with that a well-earned rest from chocolate bunnies and the proliferation of  multi-coloured aluminium foil wrapped chocolate eggs, row upon rows, and the kids are getting fatter. I wonder if the art of hand painting of real eggs is still being practiced? When I grew up our parents encouraged the colour-dyeing of real  eggs and hand painting them afterwards. I believe that the people from Eastern European countries were masters of that art.

We are still rummaging through the political scene that no doubt will return tomorrow together with the opening of all sorts of Royal Commissions of Enquiries with scandal after scandal renting the autumnal sky. The latest is the scheme of ‘water buy-backs’ where someone in the government has made a quick buck out of denying drought stricken farmers their entitlement to water that in rapid driven rivers flow past their properties. Farmer’s tear stained wives regaling on TV, husbands’ decisions to sell up the farm. Oh, this Australia ‘the best country in the world.’ We all know that Royal Commissions are guarantees for  non-action.

And then we have a Prime Minister warning us of the disasters to befall us if anyone would be as foolish and progressive as to buy an electric car. He said; ‘It will be the end of our Aussie week-end.’ ‘We will not drive our ute anymore and the price of electricity will go sky-high, he said.’ And to think we left Holland where the Government will not allow new petrol and diesel driven cars to be sold after 2030. In Norway fifty % of cars are now electric and China is starting up world’s biggest electric car manufacturers.

As for Helvi and I with those verging on their final years, getting concerned about ‘Aged-Care’, let me leave you with how CARE for the elderly is being tackled in Holland.

The Dementia Village

If I ever end up with severe dementia I hope I am fortunate enough to live in a village like this.

 

How 2019 might turn out.

January 2, 2019

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The house is in a scandalous way. The Hoover ‘Freedom’ will have to be re-charged and one of my first task will be to vacuum. I’ll start downstairs first.  My blood pressure this morning was a comfortable 109/73  with a reassuring beat of 82. With the relentless heatwave continuing, and our Government urging people to keep out an eye for dehydrated elderly, we have unlocked the front door in the forlorn hope someone younger will check on us. It would be a nice start of the new year getting my forehead wiped by a strapping young female athlete. With luck she might even do the vacuuming!

The certainties of 2019 will include the continuing march of China towards the new boy on the block of becoming the biggest economy. The poor US will dwindle in importance with an increasingly cranky blood thirsty President bullying the most vulnerable. Heaven knows what will happen. A dangerous country, and with that enormous arsenal of nuclear weapons too!

The remarkable thing of China is that they seem to continue growing in strength without resorting to warring everywhere or bombing the shit out of other countries. Australia would do well to swing over to Asia a bit more. After all, that’s were we are situated geographically. Perhaps teaching the Indonesian language to all school students would be a good move. Indonesia is closer to Australia than the distance between Sydney and Brisbane. Indonesia alone has a population almost the same as the US. And then there is China? Another super power on the rise is India.

We are fortunate of  being in the slipstream of those growing economies which could well rub off on our own economy.  I hold the forlorn dream that with a growing economy, a brave government will try to get more revenue in so that we can finally do something on a social level. Isn’t it finally time to increase the old age pension and the income for the unemployed? They are very low compared with most OECD countries. We can’t call ourselves a caring country if we can’t give the retired elderly a decent income.

Last but not least, it would be nice if those that kept refugee children and their parents in indefinite detention on hellish off-shore camps face an International Court of Justice. It is an international disgrace that hundreds of refugees are now facing their sixth year on Nauru and Manus islands in direct contradiction of international law that prohibits that.

Australia gets away with it because it is the only country that doesn’t have Bill of Rights.

Yes, it would be more than a bit of schadenfreude to see Dutton in front of a Court. I still get this nightmarish image of him each time I peel a potato.

Happy New Year again to all of you, my dear friends.

Defend our Opera House.

October 8, 2018

https://www.change.org/p/defend-our-opera-house-support-louise-herron-4ebd912c-e760-43f1-a396-3e7468869056

Our Opera house is now a billboard. This architectural masterpiece is protected and listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List under the World Heritage Convention, placing it alongside the Taj Mahal, the ancient Pyramids of Egypt and the Great Wall of China as one of the most outstanding places on Earth. It just shows that our Government is bowing to commercialism by allowing a silly horse race to be featured on it’s magnificent sails that constitutes its roof.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-10-08/opera-house-advertising-defended-by-nsw-premier/10350792

Please sign this petition to try, chip in, and reverse this silly decision. At the writing of this post 174.000 people have signed

 

Thank you,

Gerard

The Tail-end of a Horse

May 4, 2018

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I have never taken to week-ends. They are mainly boring. I don’t understand why week-ends can’t be normal days and a continuation of the week.  Years ago, out of sheer ennui, people went for Sunday drives. Now, many go to look at sport or go to rave parties. Isn’t amazing that the voluntary pill testing has come up with so many people taking pills. It seems that even going to music needs to be accompanied by taking medical enhancement products. Do people take pills to go to an opera or to church? I watched footage of a musical event down the coast. Many young people were jigging about. They were throwing their arms, lolling their eyes. Was that an expression of the musical quality of the event? Are those multi coloured pills doing that?

Before I go any further. Have a look at this 104 year old man. He is on his way to the last event of life in Switzerland. I found it very moving.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-05-05/david-goodall-trip-to-switzerland-for-voluntary-euthanasia/9716354

Apart from all that, the clay-horse is still fascinating us. I would appreciate if people know more about this horse. Let us know! Herewith a few more pictures as well. We now feel that the horse has Chinese origins. The details are very fine and all this in clay. Amazing.

IMG_0052 a horse, a horse

Helvi made a new tail. Is it perhaps a bit too yellow? In time this might fade. Time does that well. His ears are still in the making. I fashioned them from clay and they are now drying before I will try and fire them in the outside oven. I’ll keep you informed. At least the week-end has now started. And soon it will be Monday.

A normal day.

IMG_0055the horse's tail

 

 

 

Does Australia attract ‘hard-line’ diplomats now?

February 11, 2018
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The appointment by America of Harry Harris as the ambassador for Australia is hardly something I would normally pay much attention to. Of late, community nurses and lymphatic drainage has been much more part of our world. Not a day goes by without a medical event. Even so, we try and keep up with the ‘real’ world. This morning we discovered through Barry Cassidy Insider program,  that the appointment of the Ambassador was welcomed with open arms by both the Libs and Labor. A warm bosom awaits Harry in ‘hard-line’ Australia.

Harry is known for his ‘hard-line’ approach to China. I would have thought that a ‘diplomat’ and ‘hard-line’ were a bit of a contradiction. But, not anymore it seems.  ‘Hard-line’ is very much in and with the Jim Molan as a new senator, also known for fondness of ‘hard-line’, many politicians are scrambling to be at the forefront of ‘hard-liners’. I fear the day both Harry and Jim will meet up. Can we expect more wars and pyrotechnical devices raining down on hapless populations in sandy regions? I think Harry had something to say about China’s sandy diplomacy referring to islands being used by China to build airfields. Not an unreasonable response seeing Asia is surrounded by the US military might.

I don’t know where this fondness for allowing extremism into our political arena comes from. I do admit not knowing anything about both those men. They might well be very nice and honourable. On our ABC ‘The Drum’ I once experienced Jim Molan giving vent to his rather harsh opinion of refugees, especially the survivors of boat people now locked in indefinite detention on Manus and Nauru. He seemed to have a very ruthless and, in my mind, a cold and heartless view, on how to deal with refugees. Recently he posted extreme right anti Islam videos on his blog. It all went through without too much upheaval. I reckon Dutton was heartened by it all. He too is a hard liner.

I so wish Australia would be kinder to China. I don’t notice the Chinese are trying to culturally impose on us. I don’t see the Chinese equivalent of KFC, or Big Quarter Pounder MacDonald’s plastered all over the place. Instead I notice that sometimes the top HSC students often feature students from Eastern backgrounds.

On top of that, I prefer a nice Chop Suey over a foot long Subway.

Read here about Harry. China’s Foe, Australia’s friend.

https://www.sbs.com.au/news/australia-s-friend-china-s-foe-new-us-ambassador-harry-harris

 

 

The marvel of the life-giving cabbage roll.

June 6, 2017

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It seems the privilege of the old to shamelessly bore endlessly the young with tales of the past. We already know of my parental desperations when claiming not to know ‘where on earth did Gerard come from?’ It is of little consolation now that my little boy search for my real parents by scanning sea’s horizon did not bear much results. No boat with my real parents ever appeared. I just had to reconcile myself with going home with wet shoes and accept the ones who at times seemed to disown me.

Another one of those memories refusing to lay down are those of a more edible kind. The war-time cabbage. I am here now because of the humble cabbage. Towards the end of the war it was the most covetous food item in my birth-city of Rotterdam. Even today, when I try and light the gas stove, the smell of the escaping unlit gas reminds me of war and my mother’s search for food. About the only food that could be had, if one was lucky, were cabbages.

It was during pensively resting in my fauteuil yesterday that one of those fleeting memories came to the befuddled fore. Heaven knows why they appear? I decided to try and make cabbage rolls. Helvi too became quite enthusiastic.  Some month ago there was a rather elaborate Baltic & Polish food sale on at Aldi’s. We discovered a huge jar of pickled cabbage leaves and a culinary inspiration got to us suddenly. We took it home and put the jar to rest amongst the Dutch Herrings and Italian tinned tomatoes. Occasionally I would stare at this jar of cabbage leaves and would proffer to make something of it, but both decided to relegate this delicacy for consumption to a future date. The cabbage leaves all looked so pale and withered all drowned in the vinegar.  I was happy to notice that the vinegar was an honest marinade and just that, and not the dreaded Balsamic version. The best thing it had going for it was the fact it was imported from Macedonia. Macedonia has such an exotic almost melodic ring to it. All those vowels.

Of course, cabbages is what used to make the world go round. From China through Russia and Europe, including Great Britain. What would England be without their beloved cold cabbage, consumed while standing up in a draft? The Koreans make the five-star Kimchee. A soul food if ever there was.

One only has to visit the old Eastern European towns and cities, where through the centuries of cabbage-food cooking, the very stucco, bricks and ancient cellars of the streets are impregnated with this pungent smell of the cabbage. Who has not walked through old Vienna or Budapest not to smell this delectable vegetable permeated into the very soul of these so musical societies. The very waltzes of Johann Strauss were  conceived after generous ingestion of cabbage.

So, yesterday I finally opened this large jar. Helvi remembered she made the humble cabbage roll many years ago. It is made from raw minced beef mixed with whatever one wants to mix together with a handful of boiled rice. She urged me not to overdo it with spices. ‘Just try and be a bit subtle this time, don’t muck it up,’ she urged kindly, but with some authority and deep husband knowledge.

I followed her urgings but when I momentarily and in a latent fit of wild adventurism thought of Kimchee I chucked in a small quantity of chilli flakes. The whole mixture was then kindly wrapped into the jar-released cabbage leaves. It filled the entire baking dish with two neat rows of nine each, totalling a rather large quantity of eighteen rolls.  With its red-coloured tomato marinade it looked very beautiful and enticing. Enough for an entire Austrian regiment.

After baking and allowed ‘to rest’ I made a nice dish of mashed potatoes and spinach. It was a nice dish but the chilli made the rolls too hot and spicy. I should not have added it. Helvi heartily agreed that I had mucked it up a bit.

‘When will you ever learn to contain yourself and not overdo things?‘ She said, adding. ‘Where do you come from?’

 

Violins and French Polish

January 2, 2015
Cupboard after French Polish.

Cupboard after French Polish.

A good violin player knows his/her instrument better than he does his or her toothbrush. So does the French polisher. It seems a ridiculous statement, but let’s examine it. Of course, the latter does not necessarily play a musical instrument but applies art just the same as the former. There are more details than just intimate knowledge of their toothbrushes that are similar.

The violin produces sound by vibrations caused by the bow made of horsehair striking or moving across strings suspended above a wooden soundbox. We all know that. However, the sound produced by horsehair strung across the bow needs a certain ingredient called ‘rosin’. This gives a certain resistance when striking across the strings of the instrument. You would be hard pushed to get a sound out without first having ‘rosined’ the bow’s hairs. Note the verb ‘to rosin’! Rosin is a solid substance mainly obtained from the resin of pine trees. I am fairly sure that a musician, especially a good one, knows how to direct his wishes onto the instrument just as much as being obedient to the instrument after sound has been produced. As always, a give and take in the kitchen of any creative act.

It seems odd that despite the violin being such a great and popular instrument, most of the great 19th and 20th composers have written just one violin concerto for this instrument. e.g, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Brahms, Chaikovski, Dvorak, Elgar, Sibelius, Bartok. ( From Wiki)

Personally, I think Sibelius violin concerto the greatest piece of music ever written. I know it is a bit heavy and like most of his work, steeped in all things Finnish. You can indeed see the frozen sixty thousand lakes skirted by birch and spruce laden with snow. The melancholic and endless winter nights, but also the warm springs and loganberry filled summers, the simple and all artful that is Finland.

Here it is:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YsbrRAgv1b4

Let’s now go to the French Polisher and his art. I rattled on of resin for the bows of violins and other similar instruments. The French Polisher also uses a kind or resin called shellac. It also comes from trees but is actually produced by a beetle which deposits its excrement onto trees. Typically it is only the female beetle that does this. I don’t know why, perhaps it is supposed to lure the male. I would not be surprised seeing how many females stop at nothing to get a mate, even if it means the poor old male gets stuck on the resin and cark it. Anyway, this resin deposited on trees by the female lac bug in India, Thailand and China produces the major ingredient for shellac. Shellac when mixed with spirits is mainly used for French Polishes and food glazes.

Like a good violin player giving direction and responding to the instrument so does the French polisher direct and respond to his pad soaked in shellac. The shellac gives it the sheen but applying it makes for a certain drag or resistance like the rosin on the violin’s bow. It is an art of getting a ‘feel’ of just enough pressure on the timber surface, enough drag to leave behind the desired honey coloured sheen. Not enough or too much pressure and it fails to glorify. Applied too fast or too slow and it will not happen either, at best giving a mediocre result. It does need a bit more than experience to obtain a feel for this form of art. I suppose it is like that with all things creative.

A feeling and expressing it, giving it form.

I am not sure about the reference to toothbrushes. I am no Violin player, but can do a bit of French Polish.