Posts Tagged ‘French’

The words just keep on moving.

August 14, 2020

IMG_0856French Sardines

French sardines and my birthday cards

There has been a spell between the last time I wrote down some words in a certain order. The times just keep on going and for every intention to get back to write, something came between the intention and the words. The birthday was a main event but reaching 80 has now passed and it feels the same. I keep a keen alert on moments of forgetfulness or lack of instant recall on names.  Many people of my age I noticed now are doing crosswords and even cryptograms to remain sharp and alert. In my Bradman Cricket café group called Stumps, we help each other out onto remaining alert by recalling movies we might have watched with details of actors’ names, or special events that were shared in times gone by.

We all nod in pleasurable contentment we still know the details of war battles or the Queen’s birthday, the capital of former Rhodesia or what it means to have fallen down a ha ha. When I go through my garden I try remember the names of the different plants that were put in, and at times I do struggle with the instant re-call, but when I let it go, through the sheer magic of my brain, the name will suddenly pop up. So, all is good and still in order.

However, a serious slip-up came to the fore this morning. My usual wake up routine, (as if this is of any importance to you, my dearest and most faithful followers), is to go downstairs and ignite the heating systems, before hopping back into bed to wait for the comfort of a warm and pre-heated wave of air to greet my face. This usually takes about half an hour which is spend, while still in-situ under the blankets, by checking any dire messages or the latest Covid-19 fatalities on my iPhone. It’s not exactly reassuring knowing that those of advanced years are by and large most likely to be locked within the latest fatalities.

So, to keep this short and reverting to the slip-up. As I finally got up, had a shower and got dressed, I noticed after carefully ambling downstairs, that I had left the milk outside the fridge. Can you believe this? I might have told you that instead of sipping Shiraz I now have taken to drinking warm milk with honey. I take one in the morning and one before going to bed. I hope it is not a sign of slipping. Perhaps giving up the Shiraz was not such a good thing. Mind you, I buy the top label of milk named A2, and is twice as expensive as normal milk. It is the best milk money can buy but of course it is not Shiraz. I don’t get a buzz out of this top-milk no matter how much honey is in it. (12%)

Was it a mistake and should I go back to Shiraz?

A farm in Australia?

February 16, 2020

A continuing memoir.

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Son Nicholas and a painting.

The first few weeks from our latest return from French farm-house mania, our friends’ patience would be severely tested and without letting up. Talk about an obsession. I just kept saying; ‘the stone walls in France were that thick’. And I would then demonstrate by spreading my arms as wide as I could. This would be followed by some remark denigrating the flimsy Australian domestic architecture. You know, paper thin walls made of gypsum plasterboard and fibros sheeting. ‘They are mere wind breaks’ I would continue, adding insult to injury or reverse. Helvi, would poke me in the side.

After a few more weeks of insults and self absorption, things would calm down. The photos of French farm houses would be stored away, not to be seen again till recently when the majority of photos that were stultifying and boring got thrown out. We are not photo lookers, and I can’t think Helvi ever took more than a handful of photos, even though she did have a camera. She would leave that to me.  I enjoy taking photos, especially now that you can see the result immediately.

my lovely pizza oven

I remember the excitement waiting for photos to get developed by the photo and camera shop. It would take a week to get hem back, and as for coloured ones; they were send off to Melbourne. The black and white photos were small and had serrated edges. How time and science has now all changed that. Instant gratification in photography is normal, and now the world keeps taking selfies, nauseating really, but I am guilty as well. Go to any public event and one sees a forest of sticks in the air with excitable tourists busy taking selfies. In the next second the picture is forwarded and looked at in Taipei or Amsterdam, immediately. Tourism is really people paying to go somewhere taking selfies and looking at their own  images with the country they are visiting of least importance or at best an extra. Amsterdam and Venice are now desperate to try and get tourism to scale back with the locals feeling they are being trampled upon.

w800-h533-2008019426_9_pi_150224_081333dining room

The Australia farm

I am not sure when I suggested to Helvi we perhaps ought to think of making a move and buy a farm or country place locally, in Australia. It was during the latter half of the 1990’s. There was a kind of feverish ‘break away from the large cities’ movement when the term, city dwellers or townies were starting to be coined for those seeking an alternative life-style. A week-end farmer was another one. Of course the more serious of large scale farmers were called Pitt Street farmers, suggestive of landlords leasing out huge tracts of land for the cattle industries, often managed by real farmers running hundreds of thousands of acreages. The owners themselves were well heeled lawyers doing their utmost to lower their tax obligation while whooping it up in Sydney’s Pitt Street cavorting with crooks, souteneurs (сутенер) with their shady ladies of pleasure…

Is “Me too” overdone? Men are bad women are good.

March 22, 2018

Almost There

The battle between the sexes has never been more at the front news than lately. Of course, the inclusion now of all the different sexes and orientations makes for even greater complexities. As if our cocooning inside Facebook and Snapchat hasn’t been enough to isolate us. Mind you, one can get even more assaulted within those media than in face to face realities. Words can be stronger than actions. Wasn’t there an ‘Anti Bully’ day not long ago? It seems almost all days are now taken by feel good and pro-active attention seeking slogans. We had a day for Breast cancer with soon after a day dedicated to those born a Woman, a Heart Disease day. We had a Same Sex Day. We have Earth-hour soon. Easter day is also looming. Did I hear a Haemorrhoids day being planned in May?

However, this morning my attention was caught by an article in the Guardian where an actor refreshingly confessed that she was grabbed, rubbed, groped and even farted upon without any regrets or life-long lasting devastations. Apparently the late Robin Williams had a penchant for those outrageous actions.  She claims to have enjoyed working with Robin Williams and never felt annoyed by him. ‘That’s just how he was,’ she stated.

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/mar/21/robin-williams-groped-flashed-me-on-set-mork-mindy-pam-dawber

What is behind all those legal actions now taken against the world of famous but shadowy men, going around touching knees, breasts or worse, as was the case with women being assaulted by Mr. Weinstein? Many women have joined the action and are now lining up as a group known as ‘Me Too’ to seek redress perpetrated upon them by rapacious men. What went so badly wrong? In the case of Mr Weinstein, we now know that outrageous things have happened. But, why? If the assaults were so devastating, why did it happen and seemingly allowed by the women?  And why did Weinstein feel he could get away with it? Did the women accept the behaviour for fear of missing out on a career in the entertainment industry? Some felt there was no option but to go along by it.  Were they unable to run away or tell him to F…* off, kick him in the crutch, report him? What made for all this powerless non action. And why, after many years, now the tears?

I can’t imagine the average Italian, or Dutch, Scandinavian or French woman to accept behaviour they don’t want. Why is this mainly a problem in the Anglo world? Women are being paid less, have less opportunities, are not equally represented in Governments and more unequal than in many other parts of the world. Look at the action of the Palestinian  teenage girl slapping Israeli soldiers in their occupied territory of Palestine.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-03-22/ahed-tamimi-palestinian-teen-who-slapped-israeli-soldier-jailed/9574716

Compare that with the sobbing tales of having endured unwanted actions of having been pushed or brushed  against by a bad man years ago.

Perhaps there are other reasons why so many ended being molested or groped. One reason that could lead us to find an answer is that in the English speaking world, very often girls and boys are brought up almost as if a different species instead of just children. The world of Barbie dolls clearly separated from the little brawny Football player. Sex segregated schools even at primary school level are not unusual in the Anglo world. Mummy does cooking with little Anny, but daddy goes fishing  or shooting with big boy Jagger. From birth, girls are often guided into the giggly feminine and boys into the harsher masculine roles. The betwixt and in between are not allowed to flourish, let alone encouraged.

Why is that so? Am I wrong?

What do you think?

A sigh of relief or is there more to come?

April 24, 2017

 

Getting up early is a habit that I indulge in each morning. Around 6.30 am the kettle is put on. The kettle is made of stainless steel, has a whistle and its water is boiled on gas. It is almost the first sound that is heard in this household every morning. The silver crested cockatoos are usually the first at that lovely honeyed twilight betwixt dark night and morn’s light.

It’s been three weeks now since I had my morning’s coffee. I swapped over to tea instead.  Helvi still insists on her first drink to be coffee. Making both coffee and tea each morning is a rather nice change from the earlier solo beverage routine. This morning was special. France had voted.

Anxiety always follows me in a symbiotic relationship. I am sure things would just not be the same if all went smooth.  That was one reason I jumped out of bed with a bit more than the usual sprightliness this morning. Watching last night’s news with Le Pen and its right-wing antics had me all keyed up. Last time I felt similar pangs of fear was during the Dutch elections when Geert Wilders was in the running. I felt most ebullient when he was dealt a mortal blow. But…France seemed a different kettle of poisson.

What joy, what relief greeted me opening ABC’s news. Marine le Pen was second. The other main parties will now back the Emmanuel Macron who came in first getting 24% of the vote. The new wonder boy is likened to Canada’s Trudeau. He is on the right  side of politics but in a refreshing twist is actually promising an increase in welfare.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emmanuel_Macron

Just cop this!

“he is “neither right nor left” and that he advocates “a collective solidarity”

And what really attracts me is the following;

“In his book Revolution, published in November 2016, Macron presents himself as both a “leftist” and a “liberal … if by liberalism one means trust in man.”[39] With his party En Marche!, Macron’s stated aim is to transcend the left–right divide in a manner similar to François Bayrou or Jacques Chaban-Delmas, asserting that “the real divide in our country … is between progressives and conservatives”. With the launch of his independent candidacy and his use of anti-establishment rhetoric, Macron has been labelled a “populist” by some observers, notably Manuel Valls, but Macron rejects this term.”[40][41]

France does not suffer from the Westminster political system,  wherein any change is almost impossible to achieve seeing the aim of the British system is to forever try and knock the opposition out by endless warring and shouting from a chair high up ‘order- order.’

With the German right wing in retreat the world is again showing signs that xenophobia and fear of the foreign might be fading. I don’t know how we in Australia will go. At least this government is also getting on the nose, and I don’t think Pauline Hanson is making much headway anymore either.

I feel so much better now, and might even have a coffee again.

The drunken conductor and Bush. More hyphens.

January 7, 2016

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As mentioned earlier a Pole had become a self-proclaimed taxi-driver. In Holland this would never ever be allowed to happen. It was an example of how one could become and have the freedom to initiate an independency without interference from higher up the Australian Bureaucracy. It was a heaven of freedom. However, on the way to the train I could hardly look the Polish taxi-driver in the face. I had observed his wife in the shower and seen her ‘bush’. The showers were sex separated but in the same block. I had already heard through the camp grapevine, that if you took the last cubicle adjacent to the female section, one could get a peek. Soon after, I too became privilege to that peek and had obtained another level of attainment in sexual observations. At that time I was the envy of aspirations held by many boys in their early teens. It was such a specific goal in growing up…I could now hold my head high.

Of course, today those things are observed in all its plucked colonoscopy chicken wing minutia on the Internet well before 15 years of age. Different times now, but far more erotic then. It was afterwards and with some guilt (always on automatic) I recognised the woman walking along the mess-hall. I could not look her in the eye. One can imagine going to the Polish taxi-driver’s hut when she came out. It was his wife that I had been viewing through the opening of the flimsy shower partition. A deep shame must have coloured me red…But, I was fifteen.

The train trip. We had all settled in the train. Mum was holding a small suitcase in her lap in which she had packed numerous sandwiches made from the free white bread and previously mentioned free fruit laden IXL jam. Those sandwiches would see us through the day and perhaps even on the trip back. Frugality would reign in this family through thick and thin but mainly thin. But, the rhythmic rocking of the train together with the pleasure of viewing the new passing landscape was interrupted (never to be forgotten) by the conductor wanting to clip a hole in all the passengers’ tickets.

There was something a bit odd about him. He had a dense smell and unfocussed eyes. ‘Show us your thickets or fickets’, he kept mumbling, swaying along while holding onto mum’s seat. We could not understand what he was saying but knew he might want our tickets. Even so, dad wanted to know and asked; ‘pardon?’ Pronouncing it in French. ‘Show us yer frucking thickest mate’, he persevered, now lurching dangerously towards my mum. She kept her suitcase firmly in her lap. We were by this time getting very alarmed. Were we about to be robbed or worse, was our mum and her sandwiches at risk? All of a sudden, the conductor gave up all pretence of soberness and just fell on top of mum and her case with sandwiches. We were all dumb struck. What was this? Someone said ‘he’s been on the turps.’ We had never heard of this term, didn’t know even what ‘turps’ was. A man who understood our plight gave the hand to mouth gesture indicating drinking. We understood quickly. The passengers helped the man up who stumbled back to his locket. We were so scared. In Holland we had never ever observed a drunk. A drunken conductor on a train? What would be waiting for us in Sydney? Lucky, that was the only incident but it was a great shock to us. We made it back home and the kind Polish taxi driver was waiting at the station. This time I was more brazen and felt that after the shock of the drunken train conductor, a mere peek of his wife in a shower was now an honest well-earned bonus. We had survived some difficult times and I needed something to cheer me up.

Whitby-Peterborough-Rotterdam-Bruxelles-Sydney.

April 10, 2015

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The stay in London’s Shepherd’s Bush was during the time Holland won a World soccer cup or European soccer cup. Sport is not my forte, apart from a short stint of basket- ball playing, I generally have always ran away if a ball of any shape threatens to roll towards me. Of course at my age now, balls have given up all hope and never roll towards me anymore.

My Australian friend was really English and he suggested I could spend some time with his mum. His dad had died a few years earlier. Her name was Maureen and was living in Yorkshire’s Whitby and had worked as a Magistrate dealing with difficult English youth. The English seem to specialise in rearing difficult children. Already then, whenever a soccer match was being played on the Euro continent, the police forces were marshalled in by the thousands and lists of banned English fans were already in the making.

After a farewell to Lord and daily English bread pudding we took a train and after introduction to my friend’s mum settled in at a spare room at Maureen’s charming cottage at Whitby. She was a very chatty and jovial person and she drove me many times to places of interest. It included the beautiful East coast up and down from Whitby and of course we had ‘real smoked’ kippers for breakfast while viewing Whitby Abbey during lunch.

Whitby or Robin Hood Bay?

Whitby or Robin Hood Bay?

A few years before Maureen’s husband had died he had left her to live with a French women. According to Maureen they met while enjoying a week’s  stay in a Yorkshire -Dale bed and breakfast high up one of those breathtakingly beautiful hill tops that the area was so famous for. I had already heard this sad story of her husband’s philandering way with a ‘French woman’ from her son. He was less accommodating and reckons his dad had the happiest few years of his all too soon end of  life. ‘My mother nagged him to death’ was the rather merciless opinion about his mother. Even so, I was given the opposite story from Maureen.

During their stay in that B&B the father met this French lady who was asking for directions. Maureen told me that soon after many bottles of French wine were bought by her husband who, according to Maureen was much more of a beer drinker. I heard that a much clearer sign of husbands’ infidelities are the mysterious appearances of brand new underpants. No new underpants in Whitby though! She did not think much about it till out of the blue, he just left her to live in France with the French woman, leaving the French wine in her cellar next to her car.

She was still totally overwrought with this as we sat around for the few evenings I was there, she asked me if I minded drinking the French wine that her ex-husband had bought at the beginning of the ‘affaire’. “I can’t stand the sight of those French wine bottles” she added ever so sadly. It was amazing that her husband had so abruptly left his wife and mother of children on a whim, just like that! As we kept up the French wine drinking, she kept repeating her surprise and anger interspersed with much love and devotion for her husband still lingering after the passing years and his early death, in the words flooding out with tears of unrelenting bitterness and so much regret;  a conjuring act between much love lost and hatred fanned. Are they really that close?

A bay somewhere on the East Coast of Yorkshire.

A bay somewhere on the East Coast of Yorkshire.

After a few days with Maureen, listening to woes of a lost marriage while drinking her ex-husband’s, ( deceased and buried) French wine I ended up cooking her a nice tuna pasta before saying goodbye, and caught a train to York. After wandering and some sight-seeing I suffered terrifying pangs of being on my own, decided to return to Holland and Helvi and caught a train to Peterborough, booked a bus-ferry-train to Rotterdam-Nijverdal and stayed there with my mum as well. So that’s two mums within a bit more than a week.

The whole trip away from Helvi all took place with just a bit over three to four weeks. Before going home to Helvi and family, I travelled by train to Brussels of which the reason why, I have forgotten. It was a wonderful visit and as someone pointed out afterwards, the world’s best restaurants are found there. My money was short so I  used to walk around the streets of cafes and restaurants and just tried the fare for free, offered by the waiters standing outside the restaurants for passers- by to try out. I tried not to overdo this in case they started to recognize me (the third time around) as some kind of free- loader if not a vagabond. I especially liked the way some expert cook  had done the mussels on toast.

Brussels restaurants

Brussels restaurants

From there back to Sydney and my Helvi. On return she reckoned the state of my underwear was ‘scandalous!’

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Western Polo-necked Youth drawn (radicalised) to Isis.

October 1, 2014

untitledvoodoo

The local youth don’t know what they are missing out on. What’s the golden syrup that draws the future jihadists away from our lovely, caring and all inclusive culture? Of the estimated 30000 Isis army about a thousand or more are alleged to have come from Western countries. The videos and the beheadings in Syria are supposed to have been done by someone with an English accent. Perhaps even an English national. Claims were made that the identity of him is known. Many countries are scrambling their fighter jets. We are daily shown TV images of pin point accurate bombs honing in on enemy targets with plumes of black smoke radiating dangerously close towards us on the comfy couch, accompanied by a shot of a pulverised, disintegrating enemy(real people).We almost end up clapping or at least hope for an encore.

If those figures are correct, it means about 10% of all the Isis forces are from Europe, America and Australia. That sad video made by a woman undercover in Syria, of a French youth on the phone to his crying mum back home in France, telling her that he wants to stay in Syria and fight. “I am not coming home”, he said

The reason given is that of being ‘radicalised’. The young people are being radicalised! It almost sounds as if there is some Voodoo going on. You know, feathers and chicken heads besmirched with demonic dancing around funereal fires. There must be hypnotic Isis practitioners out in the suburbs casting strange spells on our youth. Oh, that’s the explanation! Yes, we see now. Yes, that’s why! Nothing more? Is that all there is to it? The magic of radicalisation? How simplistic, but that word is being used to explain the hard to swallow fact that many of our young feel attracted away from our much revered system of consumerism and capitalism. How can that be?. Let’s cancel their passports; teach them a lesson.

http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2014/09/dutch_cancel_49_jihadist_passp.php

Isn’t that a bit easy? Surely there must be better explanations offering more thought out and credible reasons why so many are drawn to fight in far away sandy and risky countries. I don’t know either but I am now old and often in repose mood, not yet listless. I well remember, as if yesterday, not being like that. My main aim in life was always to savour the new and skirt and flirt the adventurous, avoid the staid cemented-in, like the plague. I have been reasonably successful in that and wasn’t ever tempted to become a lawyer, a quantity surveyor or actuarial expert with a sound grounding in so much nothingness. Not the stooped-over office chair for me. I too might have been tempted to join an Isis!

I do remember the opposition to the Vietnam war. Young boy-like soldiers laughingly saying goodbye to wives, mothers, girlfriends. Many never to return but in bitter graves under moonless skies. There were escapes for youth then, with protests by students, energetic rock throwing by their professors. America and its allies capitulated. The war lost.

But now, nothing but a numb acceptance of everything that is imposed, unquestioningly and obediently. Dreadful things happening under the guise of ‘humanitarian concerns.’ The killing fields of our detention camps. The 15% unemployment rates of the young. It must be having an effect on our youths. Is despair rampant?

Perhaps this disillusion felt by youth has spread to the Western world as a whole. Has capitalism and consumerism run its course?

Don’t we give back what is given to us?

Is that perhaps one reason for some of the youth to be attracted to Isis.

Is that the radicalisation? I don’t know.

What do you think?

Mr Vlad. Putin cummen all toot’n for ‘n root’n to Brisbane.

September 22, 2014

images G20

It hasn’t been confirmed but I have it from an unconventional peanut sauce that Putin is coming to Australia’s sunny Brisbane. He was after all invited to the G20, and as most of those coming here are rogues and thieves, it was thought, nay welcomed, he might as well join the tribe of merrrimen and merriwomen. A huge table made from finely hand hewn Eucalypt and French polished with a mixture of gumnut and wombat faeces is now on its edge getting all those little alarm buttons fitted, just in case someone unexpectedly says …boo or, in extreme cases, says..poo. In that case machine-gun toting marshals will drop down with the help of long coiled up ropes (unexpectedly) from the Candela-bras high up, jump on the huge table, say stick’ em up, and shoot blue-berry muffins at the perpetrators.

The meat pies are already on high alert, lamingtons are now in lock-down mode behind reinforced glass counters and Morton Bay oysters have been told to practise coitus interrupt us. (just in case) On previous occasions, many male oysters committed mortal sins by leaving their mass before communion, hoping to avoid an oversupply of little baby oysters… Strictly, a no no in their neck of the salty environs. It is so difficult being a pious girl oyster.

I remember many decades ago, going to a very ‘in’ and ‘up’ market restaurant/ nightclub. The place where one could expect Rod Steward or a fake Elvis to pop in. Ladies were sitting at the bar smoking from elegant cigarette holders. It was during a period where women had their hair held back with large Rhino horned combs. They would blow out smoke and at the same time scan the diners making an or having their entrée.

I was with H and wearing a wine-red safari suit with a huge belt, not around my pants but around the jacket, that looked like phoney gold.(it was), but at least it gave me a bit of shine (where there was none). H was pure Scandinavian and so honestly told me I looked totally nerdy. Could I refrain from speaking at the dinner table, please?

nr two

Anyway, I was so nervously unsettled. All the expense which started off with a taxi and a generous tip. The first course was ‘ spinach stuffed oyster’ which were so expensive I developed an immediately headache. I mean stuffed oysters? I had a main dish of pigeons guaranteed to have been bred with reckless abandon high on the Southern Highlands but with a nervous disposition, making them extra lean.

There was so little sustenance in that meal I had to take a pain-killer while sitting on the toilet, reflecting also what a huge mistake it was to try and join the ‘in it folk.’ I left hungry but relieved we got out of the place.

I remember the nightclub/restaurant was called ‘Rogues’.

The lost Train Ticket

December 16, 2013

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While most of the world is now in panic about obesity, many years ago the reverse was at play. Many victims of the last WW2 were underweight. Especially children. It was a battle then to put weight on.

“Gerard is too skinny, Mrs Oosterman, you must send him away. There is a family in South Belgium who have volunteered to try and feed-up the chronically undernourished,” doctor advised. “They are well off with plenty of food. “Gerard must put on weight. He is malnourished”. The years of potato peelings soup and limp water porridge wasn’t enough.

I can’t remember this precise conversation. It must have been something like that though. My mother often told me that the doctor was scared I would not survive. It was after 1945 with the war over. By the end of the war there were tens of thousands of children whose level of malnourishment was so severe, a national programme was set up to help those unable to regain normal weight and health. I and my brother Frank were both considered in the category of needing fattening up.

I remember my mother putting me on the train and she also impressed on me not to lose my ticket which she told me many times, “it is in your top jacket’s pocket.” She showed me. I was put in a train cabin which was one in a series of cabins with a corridor running alongside them. She asked the adult passengers to make sure I would get off at the destined station and also showed them where my ticket was to show the conductor and the border control. ( I was travelling on my own to another country) My mother had three other children to look after and perhaps no money for her own ticket. My father was working in another city. Anyway, I travelled on my own.

My memories are scant except for this dreaded nightmare of my life. When the conductor came along, my ticket was gone. I searched all my pockets. The passengers searched my pockets. The conductor searched as well. No ticket. It was gone. I cried, sobbed was lost myself. I had lost my ticket, my life. No mother around. I still have that fear of loss. I had lost my ticket. I must have been put off the train at the right station in Belgium. The Belgian French speaking people would have picked me up. I can’t remember.

The memories of my stay in the southern part of Belgium are rather scarce. I loved the mussels. I still see a huge saucepan filled with steaming pink-orange coloured mussels. It is the only food I remember from that time in Belgium. The other lovely memory was of a crepe paper fan that was attached between two flat sticks. When you held the sticks a little apart and waved it down quickly, a most amazing patterned and colourful world would open up. If you closed the two sticks together again, the paper pattern would fold back. It was my first introduction to pure magic. I spend days with this fan in a large garden… I could not understand French nor their Flemish-Dutch. The garden had apple trees. I ate real apples. I was inconsolable when this paper fan of magic finally broke. A second loss, and no mother.

The mussels greatly made up for that loss. The family also gave me a bike to ride on. They must have taught me. I can’t remember. But the proof is in that picture. It was a large house and my room was upstairs. I can see my bed which was left of the door.

The French speaking Belgian family wrote my parents updates over the few months that I stayed with them. I was doing well and had gained 300 grams after the first three weeks, they wrote to my mother. “Gerard is very brave,” they wrote. I still have that card. It was also when I learned to speak French which my parents could not understand on my return.

I am now a good 78 kilos and never go without my ticket.

When I see a film I clutch the ticket in my hands during the entire performance. I keep checking where my passport is and get quite annoyed when I lose something. H. has a hard job keeping me calm and not panic. I am not sure if it is related. Odd, how such an event could possibly keep one from being a bit more normal. I don’t easily give up fretting when something is temporarily missing. H. keeps saying it is NOT lost. She says don’t FEED your anxiety. The Allen key or ‘special’ bit of written note, your glasses will turn up. Don’t worry so much, she says with so much care and love.

Yes, true, but I lost my ticket. It was so long ago.

Louie the Fly is still around.

October 24, 2013

2210_diningoutside_jpg-500x0During the smoke haze some days ago I noticed the flies were in a frenzy as well. The sky had an eerie orange tinge. People seemed tense and walked faster than normal. It reminded me of the last days of shopping before Christmas. Perhaps the threat of fire and Christmas are related. Both are filled with a dread that something might not have been done or achieved. Did we really have enough food in the house for the upcoming festivities, and now, have I cleaned the guttering of dry leaves?

As we took our daily walk along the river with our Jack Russell Milo, I happened to choke on a fly which promptly got ingested. It reminded me of our life on the farm. Even though we left the farm three years ago, many memories persist. The best of them were the large house and the old settlers cottage from around the late 1880′ or so. We had a pool. I drove a ride-on mower and tractor to slash and keep combustible growth to a minimum.

Fire in summer was always on our minds. We had bought a petrol driven fire fighting pump and a wide arrangements of large diameter hoses with brass couplings. The first thing to go is often the supply of electricity, especially in farming communities when electricity poles catch alight. We had 40.000 litres of water from the pool at our disposal. We also prepared ourselves with buying a large generator that would give us enough power to run our sprinkler system and water taps around the farm and spare settler’s cottage. On most farms water is supplied from tanks or dams by electric pumps that get activated when a tap is turned on. We had a water license allowing us to pump 6 million litres from the Wollondilly river.

We were well prepared for bush-fire but still had anxious days when fires used to break out in the area. Fires could start by a farmer using a tractor to slash ,hit a stone, and a spark would ignite a fire in no time. Other fires were proven to be deliberately lit by bored youths. The mind boggles!

During the bushfire periods I always used to scan the sky for a hint of smoke and watched the local news. A previous bushfire in the sixties had destroyed most of the local community including a school and church.

One of the most amusing times were to be had on internet sites where the farming community used to chat with each other. Some of the responses were priceless.

A favourite subject to prop up during the heat was flies. How many did you eat today, was asked? Someone replied; I had at least twelve today, how about you?

In most French, Spanish, Greek movies, sooner or later, a scene props up whereby in the shade of a large oak, the family sits outside with a perfectly chosen out outdoor setting and a table decked out and laden with food and wine. People are convivial and wild gesturing adds to the excitement. Romantic and idyllic with perhaps a bee humming around the family about the worst threat to the event.

Did you notice on the TV news about the wild-fires, the flies buzzing around the news readers faces? I felt like getting the spray can out.
We can honestly say, those scenes would be hard to achieve here. We know, we tried many times. The flies made outdoor dining on a farm impossible. The only way to do it would be to wear black netting around one’s head and pop in the food by quickly lifting the netting, even so, flies would be opportunistic and get in. Unable to escape, yet another fly would get ingested.
That’s how it was.