Posts Tagged ‘Helvi Oosterman’

Moments filled with nothingness and Homeless Man.

December 11, 2014
Homeless man at Byron Bay

Homeless man at Byron Bay

There are moments or even lots of moments that no matter how pensively I might stare out at the rain, I am devoid of being all there. A blankness in watching the patter of rain hitting the Manchurian pear tree just outside my window is hypnotic. It does beat watching the petrol bowser tick over at the local service station with the 4c discount being mentally calculated in the exact $50.-payment. A triumph of which I wrote already previously. You can now see how far I have sunk.

Even yesterday I stared at a blue spikey flowering plants that at the moment seems to be featured on nature’s top hit parade. I thought and thought, sweat under my armpits. What on earth is the name of this plant? I still knew it last Monday. Yet today, nothing but a hollow response echoing on and on. Is Mrs Alzheimer knocking on my door? If so; ‘be gone loose women and never darken my doorstep again.’ Here let me put a banana skin on my doorstep so you break your neck in a spectacular back flipping fashion. And then; a miracle, a miracle, it came! It is called the Agapanthus. Two handed hand clapping and the rain took a break in respect.

It is Helvi’s birthday today and coffee with pre-ordered Fruit tart from Gum-nut shop were ready at 8.30am. Both of us in pyjamas and the rain pelting it out again festively. The Gum-nut shop wins blue ribbons at the Sydney Royal Show each year on a variety of their products. The custard tart and vegetarian pie are our favourites when we go there with our JRT ‘Milo’. He usually gets the crusts from both and has no hesitation to also scrounge from other customers trying to enjoy their early coffee with pies or tarts unhindered by begging dogs. Milo’s charm usually breaks down their résistance and he get rewarded well above his owners. I have often thought of sitting outside Woolworth near the bags of potting mix with Milo. I could have sign ‘please give generously’ and look a bit hungry. In my case looking hungry comes naturally. Perhaps a box with some coins in the hope some might be touched and willing to give generously in exchange of Milo accepting a few pats. He is that popular.

This brings me back to our visit to Byron Bay a couple of weeks ago. One late afternoon and right in the middle of a busy throng of people I noticed a man sitting on the ground with a large sign blaming our PM Tony Abbott for being homeless. I gave generously but asked if I could take his photo. He accepted and here is the shot. I noticed someone had given him a wrap sandwich and some bananas.

It is all there and so much more. Be gone Tony Abbott, don’t darken my doorstep. You are not even a loose woman.

Of Pork Cutlets & An Adventure with Vitrectomy and Intravitreal Injection.

August 1, 2013

BlackBeanPorkCutlets1788157Djpg
It all was done with a military type of precision and planning beforehand. Plans for travel were searched up on the internet with many options of travel by combining trains and buses duly printed out. The motel was booked and reference numbers of different stages of hospital procedures studied and taken notice of.

We were told that after the operation, driving would be out of the question so the return trip by public transport would be done in reverse. The first hitch arrived soon after arrival at about 5pm. It was getting dark and the normally lit up signs of Motel were nowhere to be see. The Motel was advertised being situated at Macquarie Park so that’s where the train took us. No motel and we were told it was at Macquarie University rail station instead of Macquarie Park.

We walked about 3 kms back to where we had passed this station before. We were lucky not to be seen as asylum seekers with our bags and struggling demeanors. No street signs and no street numbers. Worse, no people. Finally a lone jogger. I asked him for directions and he gave a reply but kept on jogging in circles around us. Most curious, perhaps he did not want to lose his momentum or meters per minute as he did have some device strapped to his wrist. He kept jogging around me and I turned with him in order to hear what he was saying. He did not really know where he was either. The traffic around us was like a speedway. No taxis, just a shrieking madness on wheels. Kafka nightmare springs to mind.

We plodded on with H getting despondent and very tired. Finally a girl just walking. We asked and she promptly whipped out a gadget into which she tapped the Motel’s name. Within seconds it showed the road we were on and how much further the motel was. Another 1.2 Kms she said. She was an angel.

We arrived hungry and totally dehydrated at our motel. We were too far gone for any fights or marital punch ups. Fortunately we were near a giant shopping-mall that seemed to cater mainly for students of the nearby university. A Thai beef salad and water replenished us and our anger soon abated. We were too buggered for any talk and I had a rotten night, feeling I should have enquired better. I failed in reconnoitering our destination better. I also kept on seeing visions of needles entering my eyes and remembered fainting once at the doctor many years ago. White coats and surgical things do that to me. I am more heroic with words. I usually do a detour around anyone wearing stethoscope or even just glasses.

Next day, at 7.30 am I entered the hospital next to the motel. I coughed up the lollie, not an insignificant amount for the best treatment! I was duly tagged around my wrist and ankle. Ankle? Was the ankle bracelet in case of an inspection of identity at the morgue? Now-a-days technology does most of the work and my tags came out of a printer with the operation and ward number, the specialist, my address, next of kin, all printed on a very strong water proof adhesive tag.

I remembered many years ago at a public hospital being given just a single handwritten tag out of a row of tags which a nurse put around my wrist. I never checked but it turned out to have the name of a woman patient. I came very close to getting wheeled into a hysterectomy ward. It must have been the beard that gave the mistake away and luckily had a colonoscopy instead. Not that a colonoscopy is a pick-nick on the banks of the Blue Danube.

After the usual struggle with the gown open at the back, but underpants were allowed, I was wheeled in the theatre. The operation was over in about 30 minutes. I was give local anesthetic and remained fully aware. It was totally painless and even saw the amazing sight of needles entering my eyeball. Just because you close your eyelid doesn’t mean your eye stops looking! It was just like in the movies. (Not the Sound of Music)

Helvi visited me and appeared, as always, like an angel with her lovely reassuring Mona Lisa smile. Calm and collected she studied me and I regaled with gusto the lovely lunch I had enjoyed after the long fast from the mid-night before. Pork cutlets with garlic infused potatoes, lovely carrots with Apple Strudel with cream as a finale. A coffee as well. Real coffee, I stated. She doubted it.

Amazing, but most of the staff seemed Asian with a punctuality that was awe inspiring. Every two hours a trolley would be wheeled in and temperature, blood pressure and my pulse taken. Brown arms were winding the blood pressure tube around my arm. Almond eyes coming down on me with a concern for my welfare as if I was on death-bed or a shot down war pilot. At times I would be asked for my name and date of birth. Was this to check my state of mind, gone gaga or perchance not the full ticket anymore?

I stayed overnight. During that night the two hour medical inspections continued mercilessly. I was fine and without discomfort and even thought that at one stage the bacon and egg breakfast was coming. Sadly, it was only 2am.

Above the bed I had a small interactive touch TV with internet key board attached to it on a tray. It was suspended from the ceiling by a complex arrangement of swiveling steel pipes and brackets. The bed also had a remote that would do all sorts of strange things to the mattress. When I was a bit bored I just amused myself with the movable bed and the TV and imagined a honeymoon.

Next day at 6.30 am I was wheeled to the eye clinic and the specialist surgeon looked at my eyes and told me the operation was perfect and very successful. Make sure you stop the car when you get driven back because the gas injected behind your eye needs time to adjust to the higher altitude of the Southern Highlands Mountains. When I told him we were travelling by public transport he told me he wasn’t keen on that idea. If something happens, you won’t be able to ask the train driver to stop the train, will you, he said?

Fortunately, after Helvi phoned around, a good friend, (an American of course) offered to pick us up from the motel and drive us back to our home. We had not seen this old friend for some time. He had only just returned from California to spend time with his very old mom.

It turned out that my eye adjusted without any problems with higher altitude. I am still not seeing much. It is as if I am underwater with everything shimmering. That is normal and it will take a few weeks for the gas to be replaced by natural eye fluids. My eye will be as good as new. Marvelous what can be done with modern medical innovation…Thank you dear doctor Van Ho.

So, that’s that then. What next in aging?

Foreigner’s Woes

April 22, 2010

By Helvi Oosterman.

Foreigner’s Woes…

Years ago you actually had to go to ‘The Office of Births and Deaths’ to get your certificates, no on-line quick fixes in those days. So off I went to town, by bus and in my best attire.

Before setting my foot in the office, I whispered a little prayer: Dear God let the nice young apprentice clerk to be there today. No such luck; it was the dragon herself manning the boot; the fat lady that is. The word obese had not yet crept in our vocabulary or collected on our hips or thighs.

She was a large stern looking woman with equally forbidding looking glasses. As fairly new to the country I had practised what to say and how to say it: Could I have a birth certificate for my child, XXXX  Oosterman;  I added  Oosterman with double ‘o’…

That was a mistake; she thought I was talking about double ‘w’. Those were kept close to the floor at the bottom of her huge filing cabinets, and she would have to bend down and she wasn’t very bendable. I could see that this could get very unpleasant, so I quickly uttered:  Oosterman with two o’s, o, o…

Oh, oh, Oosterman, she muttered relieved. This was much better as the o’s were housed quite high in cabinet hierarchy, no unnecessary unsightly bending needed. Still, heart in my throat fearing further problems, I squeaked: It’s Oosterman with one ‘n’, not with two…like in German.

I don’t think she heard or understood me. Thank God

Vegemite or not

April 16, 2010

August 28, 2009

  

Vegemite or not… by Helvi Oosterman

Leaving your mother country, you’ll leave behind mother’s home cooking and most times also Speciality foods of your nation. In my case it was the flat Finnish rye bread, which I hadn’t encountered anywhere else on my travels. The Estonian black bread became a reasonable substitute in Australia.

Some countries of course have food to die for ; their recipes have crossed the borders and we all enjoy our spaghetti Bolognese , our Danish pastries, Russian beef stroganoff and Swedish meatballs. That’s the easy bit, but what happens when visiting or moving into a foreign land, and you are offered those countries’ less known or some of their more peculiar tid bits.

First trip to Amsterdam and you are given your first raw herring with raw onions. How’s that for a new culinary experience. Not as good as roll mops out of the jar, but not bad either ; I could learn to love this. Greek olives or dolmades are easy to like, but what about the funny drink Ouzo, that could be problematic. Sweet and sour pork, Mongolian lamb don’t need getting used to but please, don’t ask me to tackle bird’s nest soup or hundred year old eggs, ever, never..

English roast dinner even with the peculiar Yorkshire pudding goes down well, but a pea soup with a pie floating in it, a floater, they call it…good for piglets at pigs Arms maybe..?  Haggis, now that’s something that only the starving amongst us dares to touch.

season's first herring. Dutch herring eater. 

New Zealanders wrap their fish in banana leaves and bury it in sand over hot coals to cook and this of course can taste fantastic, depending on type of fish and the cooking time. Kiwi friends of ours did this once; they buried their catch in the Balmain back yard…sadly the Snapper tasted like compost and smelled like burning rubber.

Getting used to Aussie food was not so hard; it was a matter of learning to like bland or plain food; the chops and the three veg. Sometimes the greens came out of tin, especially if you were eating in a road side milk bar, on your way to Brisbane. Sister in law, having been a waitress, had had her share of difficult customers, therefore she in her turn turned ‘difficile’ when dining out. Are the mushrooms fresh, she queried. Straight out of the tin, was the Taree cafe owner’s answer.

Husband had been in Australia many a year before I came, but he had never managed to even taste Vegemite. For me it was love at first sight , I have to have it at least twice a week.Our kids couldn’t be without it either; when living in Holland, we had to do with Marmite…no match to Vegemite. The jars were cute though, ideal for my dried herbs.

Penelope Blows You Away

April 7, 2010

By Helvi Oosterman

January 26, 2010

By Helvi Oosterman

Whilst you were all waving your flags and having your barbeques, I was running into the Norton Street Cinema in Leichhardt. It was a humid Sydney day, but I did not care: it was my second last chance to see Almovodar’s Broken Embraces; it was going to start at twelve midday, and I was not going to miss it, I was going to run for it.

Most movie lovers were blown away by Pedro’s previous master piece: Hable con ella, ‘Talk to her’, and after seeing something so sublime, I was worried about his latest offering. David Stratton on Movie Show gave him four stars for this one, and explained that even lesser films by Almovodar are heads above the rest.

I wasn’t disappointed. Almovodar is something else, he’s creative, he’s funny and, he’s over-the –top, but it all works. His talent brings to mind another eccentric and brilliant movie maker who also was gay, the German Rainer Fassbinder. Fassbinder had, as his  muse, the beautiful Hanna Schygalla; Almovodar’s is the equally stunning Penelope Cruz. Under his guidance Penelope shines; to watch her walk up the stairs in her red peep toe high heeled shoes and wearing a red suit is a scene to remember.

Google the critics if you want to know more about the film, but please go and see it, it’s definitely worth it.

Kisses and French dressing by Helvi Oosterman

March 9, 2010

 

My remaining five  mysteries

By Helvi Oosterman

As you have all been waiting, with bated breath no doubt, for my remaining five mysterious things; no more suspense, here they are. To please dear Asty, I’ll start with something ’sublime’ and leave the mundane mysteries last:

6. Why are so many men cagey about shaking hands with females, whilst at the same time happy to pump their mates’ arms almost to a breaking point? Here I stand with my extended hand only  to be conveniently ignored. Are we girls a lower caste, or are the men afraid to appear too intimate with us. After all the French men hug you and plant not one but four kisses on one’s cheeks without fear of retribution. Swearing when there are females  present is another baffler. Don’t tell me the old story about ‘ladies’; we only have them in England, and they go together with the Lords…

7. I also like to know who ever came up with this unforgivable term, a ‘naughty’ or it’s brother ‘nookie’ when referring to making love. He wasn’t a Frenchman, that’s for sure.

8. We had lunch with some newish friends; the quiche was very good and the desert was divine. There was a salad to go with the main, but it wasn’t dressed, the vinaigrette was missing; what to do? Follow the hostess and sprinkle some oil from one bottle and a few drops of vinegar from another. But this is not the same as having a real vinaigrette made to proper quantities of oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, French mustard, pinch of sugar, some fresh herbs and even garlic if you so prefer. Is this two-bottle custom from middle ages?

9. While we are talking food I have to ask what is this calling some cheeses ‘tasty’? Are the other cheeses tasteless, perhaps? I have a husband who sometimes still buys those packets of pre-sliced processed ‘cheeses’, these slices are individually wrapped and at times very hard to get to. I suggest that he eat them with wrapping and all; they both taste the same more or less.

10. Now we are coming to the one mystery which I actually hate, really the only thing I hate; the flies. Why are there so many flies in the Australian bush? My dreams of picnics on the river were killed by millions of flies as soon as we took the tucker out. One Christmas I decked the table on the veranda with my best linen and tableware; as soon as the prawns arrived we all had to run inside as the flies swarmed from nowhere to attack the food. On my dad’s farm in Finland we did everything outside during summers, we had our coffee breaks, lunches and at times even dinners al fresco. We were not bothered by flies. I know the northern part of my fatherland is made inhabitable in summertime by mosquitoes , but that is a story for another time. I remember visting Bali when it was still pretty dirty and when the food scaps and other rubbish littered the place, and of course plenty of unclean water for flies to breed in; yet hardly any about…

I hope you can show some light into my little mysteries; be truthful or inventive, all explanations thankfully accepted!

Ten Mostly Mysterious Things to Me (the first five)

March 4, 2010

November 21, 2009

By Helvi Oosterman

We make lists of our ten favourite books or movies frequently.  At dinner parties we have light hearted discussions about which ten items we would rescue from a burning house or what ten things we would need to comfort us if we had to spend a month alone on a lonely island.

There are things that have puzzled me in the past, some of these have been explained to me; most of them are utterly trivial, some irritating, and all of them just a source of amusement to me. Here they are, not in an order of importance as most of them are not overly important at all.

  1. Why do we dress baby boys in blue and girls in pink? Is it because we are shy about asking baby’s gender, or  that we don’t really feel like offering to change baby’s nappy to find out the sneaky way…
  2. Driving through lush green valleys of South Coast, I see a sign indicating that I have entered the City of Shoalhaven. Where , where…?  Not a house, nor a shop anywhere, plenty of cows, farmers on their tractors, but churches or city squares, no. Same in the city of Sydney, you arrive in a suburb of Campsie and I’m told in smaller writing: City of Canterbury. Maybe you have a town , thus named in England, but this is just another suburb and the only city here is Sydney.
  3. I’m in somewhere, in someone’s office to sign some transaction or other; I’m well equipped with my driver’s licence, my passport, my rates’ notice, my husband with all his papers. This is not good enough; you have to go and sign this in front of a justice of peace, there’s a dentist on the second floor, madam. No way am I going to interrupt a busy tooth doctor at work, he doesn’t know me any better than this lousy clerk. Time to throw a little tantrum and time to ask his name and to call the boss. The boss wants me out and signing happens without any dental surgeons at present.
  4. I’m a member of a local club and showing my card, any card really will do as I sometimes accidentally show healthcare card, and yet the girl at the desk waves me in. If you are not a member you are forced to sign some papers, put your address in, just to have a chance to eat a bowl   of pasta with a glass of white.
  5. I still sometimes enter a chemist shop, where the chemist himself, the mixer of potions, stands on something elevated, on a kind of podium. Why? Is he better than the newsagent bloke next door, humbly standing there at the level of his customers? Is the chemist keeping a sharp eye on shop lifters; you can spot them better from his lofty position?

Now, folks, I need a rest and a coffee break; these baffling things take a lot out of you. On your permission, I’ll stop now, and if you absolutely demand, I’ll reveal the remaining five…

What not to Wear (for men) by Helvi Oosterman

February 19, 2010

January 23, 2010

By Helvi Oosterman

When popping into Pigs Arms for my daily pink drink, I have been alarmed by the gear you blokes wear at this watering hole. Room for improvement?  Yes, yes…

First of all you should know that the wearing of narrow-legged beige shorts with sandals and the knee socks is only permissible for very old blokes residing in Queensland. As we know it’s no use trying to change old dogs’ habits…none of you here of course do fit into this ‘too-old-category’.

Thongs should be flung out, not only for the aesthetic reasons but also because they give their wearer a funny walk. Whilst you are trying to keep them on, you have to carefully throw your legs about without bending your knees…not a good look!

Coloured shirts with white collars make you look like a nursing sister, even if you obviously aren’t. We gently leave Mr Turnbull to wearing his shirts, he’s suffered enough already. Most likely we have Lucy to blame here.

If you happen to covet a navy blazer adorned with ‘gold’ buttons, stop coveting!  Only dapper Italian males can wear them with panache. They have enough nous to pair them with grey flannelette trousers, and to throw a pale blue Armani shirt and a subtle silk tie by Hermes into the mix.

Tapered- down- wide-at-the-waist tough denim from a discount store is best left to elderly carpenters and country plumbers. Clearly to be avoided after hours…

Now we all know that President Bush had a knack of wearing cowboy boots with flair; he has the bandy long legs and the right kind of Texan gait the boots demand. Still, any shortie trying to add height by stepping into them should be stopped immediately.

Head-to-toe R M Williams gear is not making you look like a wealthy land owner, rather it gives you away as a city slicker who has recently purchased a minor hobby farm and who has not yet had time to dirty his hands on a hard-to-start tractor or on an obstinate generator.

Fluoro work wear is designed for folk in hazardous occupations, not for idle Telstra blokes heating their billy cans for morning tea break on the roadside. Nor is it meant for unemployed youth hanging around shopping malls.

Teaming trackie pants with black dress shoes is also verboten, and very long and very pointy shoes can only be worn by rebellious teenagers in black pipe jeans. I’m personally very tolerant and give my blessing when it comes to eccentric Finnish groups like the ‘Leningrad Cowboys’…

Red woollen jumpers, so loved by English gentlemen and by our own Curry Colonel, usually matched by equally ruddy faces, are best replaced by other colours; say navy, camel or even forest green. They are more complimentary to too-much-Shiraz affected gobs (sorry about the bad choice of words, I did not want too much repetition).

White shiny suits are a must, but only if you are an Albanian pop singer taking part in the Eurovision song contest. Long wavy black hair and white shoes are allowed to compliment the outfit. For everyone else, even for Bob Hawke white shoes are an absolute no-no, no matter what Blanche says.

White, black and sand coloured canvas loafers are highly recommended though, for young and old as suitable summer footwear.

Shortish navy or khaki elastized waist, drill shorts, worn by likes of Paul Hogan and Steve Irving are only passable on young well  built swimming pool maintenance workers. It also helps if they have short blond hair and a wide smile and if they wear acid/bleach damaged Blundstones to boot!

What not to Wear by Helvi Oosterman

February 14, 2010

November 9, 2009

Just to get you boys here.

You older folk here might remember the times, when anything Indian was all the rage; long cotton caftans for the girls and rough hewn grandpa shirts for the boys. Those were the days when your tie-dyed, floor length wrap-around skirts, not only kept your legs warm but at the same time swept the streets or maybe just the foot paths clean…

The council workers whistled at you, not because they admired your legs, but because you were doing their job for them. I remember wearing a long caftan when six months pregnant, looking rather majestic, almost a cross between Maria Callas and Joan Sutherland, Brunnhilde from Wagner’s Ring comes to mind. Hubby too suffered for his latest acquisition, sandals made from old car tyres with some brass buckles tagged on them that gave his feet bad rashes.

Many years later  the tights arrived on the fashion scene; welcomed by all comfort loving females, mums, daughters and grannies. They were taken up by skinny girls, fat sheilas, old and young, tall and short. My slightly underweight girlfriend gave me a backhanded compliment: “Helvi, you look good in them because you got big legs, I look like a starved baby bird in those”. Ah well, who needs enemies when your friends tell the truth about your short  comings. These tights, as you all know, were usually teamed up with oversized t-shirts or large tops  with huge shoulder pads. These pads were not sewn but usually Velcroed to shoulder seams and easily removed. On long train trips they could double up as pillows, after all some were almost bigger than average size Tontine.

Not all that long ago the fashionistas got inspired by India again; the bright colours were in and black was out. Tired of looking like Sicilian widows, we now took to rainbow colours, glitter and sequins like ducks to water. Many of us suburban mums   of course even looked like ducks, waddling in our tiered skirts and heavily sequined tops weighing us down. All those vivid colours that so flatter darker skinned slim Indian girls, made us look like stumpy Christmas trees.

Oops, almost forgot about those hipster jeans, maybe it is because I really want to forget about them; all those tummies and bottoms bared, and in country towns still bravely exposed, even  when the city girls have moved to the” waist highs” a long ago.

This morning I had to go to town early for an appointment. Popping in to buy a newspaper at the mall, I noticed a group of young girls still in their nighties hanging around. I assumed they had had some kind of sleep out or a pyjama party and were on their way home. The polyester swishing could be heard as they walked past. Later on I came to realise they were not nighties,but this season’s new look: floor-length summer dresses that reminded me of those caftans. Only the caftans were cotton and pleasant to wear, these long  poly dresses must be as hot as a visit to a sauna.

I feel like a cooling swim is needed right now!

Of Proust and Penguins

February 10, 2010

»

September 19, 2009

By Helvi Oosterman.

I’m standing in front of our floor to ceiling book cases and I don’t know where to start my weeding; we are moving to a smaller place and I have to select which books to take and which not. I have three milk crates on the table: one for daughter, one for charity and one for the cottage. The ones I want to keep can stay until we actually move.

I take books out at random. ‘The End of Certainty’ by Paul Kelly is the first one. It was a birthday present from Allan, who passed away far too young at fifty. His beautiful hand writing makes me choke at the loss of a dear friend and I want to keep the book. ‘In the box’, says the boss who hasn’t even read it. The next one happens to be a slim volume by Marguerite Duras, a French writer who used live in Vietnam when it was still Indo-China. I start reading ‘Practicalities’; beautiful short essays about life, love, writing, Paris and wasting time. I feel I’m not wasting a minute re-reading this and not sticking to the task at hand: I have to keep this one;  it’s only a slip of a book.

On the bottom shelf, out of sight are my yearly diet books; I have bought one every January, new year, new me. Easy goodbyes to all; from Atkins to Scarsdale to South Beach. I count only seven;  many of them have already left the house to end up fattening girl friends’ book shelves. Then I pick a stack of yellowed old Penguins, Mishima, Kawabata, Hermann Hesse and Böll, which have escaped the previous throw-out. They are like very old friends now;   I put them back on the shelf.

I’m not doing too well, and I decide to take a break and walk to check the cottage collection. I find that most of them are results of previous culls, books that I had not chosen myself. Even so I managed to bring back an armful: a book on Finnish art, a long lost one of V.S. Naipaul and ‘By Way of Sainte-Beuve’ by Marcel Proust.

I have spent some hours by now and not much to show for; maybe the best thing to do is to tackle one shelf daily until the job is done. We have time;  we haven’t even put the house on the market yet. Husband walks by and looks at the empty boxes, he can see that I’m getting a headache and am close to tears: Maybe I can help tomorrow? This is not what I want;  he’ll only leave his Patrick Whites and some boring stories about Aussies migrating to Paraguay and maybe George Perec’ s  ‘Life, the User’s Manual’. ‘You can help with the cook books and the gardening ones’, I say as I have already promised to give them to family members; I have enough recipes in my head by now and my new garden will  be very small.

Oh no, I have totally forgotten about dictionaries and other language and reference books in the office and all my favorites in the bed room!