Posts Tagged ‘Helvi’

Does it ever stop?

March 20, 2017
IMG_0827windflower

Japanese Windflower

The dream of retirement was always to be a time of reflection. You know, reap the fruits of love and labour. So far, it has mainly been the peelings. Life doesn’t really let up. You see those ads of elderly couples swirling about on huge opulent large multi-storeyed ocean liners. A magnificently gowned wife having a glass of wine in one hand and with the other hand holding a rambunctious ruddy faced husband.

The video then takes you to the liner’s cabin (with ocean views) where the same husband with spouse, retire to their enormous red rose petal strewn bed, leaving no doubt that even in retirement, their conjugal activities are still hale and hearty, not having shrivelled or waned at all. Apparently that is a misconception. The elderly are shown as keen and eager as ever to have  sex. Not true, it’s all fake!  It’s fake sex.  In advertising the winning technique is always to show the opposite of reality and truth. That’s how advertising works. That unobtainable and forever elusive search for ‘happiness’, brings in the customers. The truth is that the elderly are more likely to engage in naps, study Aldi’s catalogue, enjoy domestic bickering, but rarely engage in wild sex with rose petals. Their rusty limbs just don’t allow that anymore.

This all because we are now finally getting our air conditioning installed. We signed the agreement some weeks ago. And no sooner had we coughed up the 10% deposit  were told that during the extraordinary heatwave they had been swamped with request for installing coolers. Since the heat left and the weather cooler we did not mind waiting. That’s what is nice about retirement. One becomes time rich and easy does it. This Thursday it is to start and we are excited. It will be nice to have the house comfortable and those wild swings between heat and freezing somewhat controlled by the push of a button.

For some months now we have been tossing up about going and sail away over the horizon. Helvi is still not keen at all on sailing away somewhere. “You are dreaming and letting go of all reality,” she says, while looking at me with those large true-blue eyes of hers. “You will be the first to be bored shitless,” she adds. “Yes, Helvi, but they have libraries and lots of shops, “I tell her narrowing my eyes. “No, it will just be waiting for eating and swallowing food, endless meals and snacks,” she adds to a pile of previous objections.

“I always like travelling when we did not know where we would end up sleeping, that to me is travelling,” she said. “Yes, but we are now too old. I am not going to sit in a bus travelling in Turkey, having a bout of intestinal hurry and on top of that not knowing where we will sleep. We are too old now,” I say with some earnest vehemence.

“Let’s just get the air conditioning out of the way. Keep looking at your Ocean Liners videos”, she adds.

It never lets up.

 

 

The driver-license test for Seniors while spying through fingers.

June 24, 2016
 Forgot the mirror image when printed. (Black square)

Forgot the mirror image when printed. (Black square)

When the letter was received to go through a medical test for renewal of my driver’s license, I got up, and immediately searched the eye test charts. Did you know that this chart was an invention of the Dutch ophthalmologist Herman Snellen in 1862?

I thought I could perhaps move things along a bit in my favour by remembering the third bottom line of letters. Apparently, having read up about it, the test usually insist on adequate vision in order to maintain the driver’s license for those over seventy five. Last year I passed with flying colours. I did spy through my good eye that required third line of letters. I had a nice nurse who kept looking at the chart instead of my hand with fingers slightly ajar.

Some years back I had a vitrectomy done on my right eye to try and straighten out my macula. There was good vision in that eye but it did seem to have a slight curve on the horizontal plane of vision. Now the curve is straight but the vision pretty crook. I should not have gone in for this operation. Helvi is forever pointing out not to dwell on what is past. It is a habit of mine. Even so, I was heartened by a recent ABC TV program that pointed out that business and health make bad bedfellows. It had doctors even agreeing that the medical profession in Australia is getting more like the US system. More and more groups of medical professionals are forming Market listed empires which employ people with MBA degrees instead of caring doctors.

My operation was certainly a nice little earner for all involved and I coughed up more money than for a six week’s luxury stay in Bali. I even had an overnight stay in a luxurious private hospital with nice smouldering coal-dark eyed nurses waking me up every few hours and gazing tenderly into my eye. Above my bed I had suspended a computer on which, after I lowered it to my good eye level, I could order a bewildering variety of luscious snacks and even complete meals. From memory I had a lovely Angus-cow eye fillet with mashed potato and kale for lunch.

However, scanning the eye charts, I noticed there are many different ones. The top letter is usually an E, but the rest could be anything. I thought of visiting the medical centre under some pretext and study their eye-charts, but each doctor might well have a different one hung on the wall usually opposite a mirror for creating the required six metre distance. The medical centre is a warren of offices. I could study just one and than insist on that particular office. It could arouse suspicion.

My attitude about the whole thing is a bit sus anyway. Surely, safety is what should dominate. However, that is supposing a moral forbearance or aptitude, a straightness of character and responsible citizenship, that is perhaps somewhat lacking. Helvi often tells me there is something sneaky in my mind’s eye. A kind of slyness and cunning.

However, and this is what I tell myself in this eye-chart conundrum. I have never been involved in a car accident. I have never claimed damages on my car. One reason I do not have car insurance. ( apart from the obligatory third party one.) Twice I have been booked by a camera of speeding but both were in a low range. I am a very safe driver.(lots of I’s here.)

So, I have asked Helvi if I should wear a solid ring on my left hand so that scanning the eye-chart my ring-finger will be somewhat ajar without any deliberate input by me. This will give me a chance to enhance my ability to read the third line from the bottom of the Snellen chart.

It is the best I can come up with.
What do you reckon?

Send us your manuscript. Our board of editors favourably…

March 14, 2016
 Forgot the mirror image when printed. (Black square)

Forgot the mirror image when printed. (Black square)

I don’t know what to think of this but hope I am not smelling a rat, perhaps just a whiff of a small mouse? I have received by overseas post, (yes remember post?) a letter where my initial submission of ‘Almost There’ was received favourably by  ‘a board of editors.’ Really? I have been asked by ‘this board of editors’ to submit my entire manuscript by a Word attachment.

The address of this publishing house is impressive. Canary Wharf, London. Images of gleaming floors and whispering voices, a battery of computer-screens with assistant  sub-editors smashing glass ceilings.  Huge screens being lit up by the latest book releases and their screaming jackets. Appointments with TV channels, interviews with new and budding literary giants. The pale looking manager rushing to the elevator to meet dead lines. A frantic hub of activity.

In the midst of all that a special executive room with a large table surrounded by smart black chairs on which are seated ‘a board of editors’  all discussing gerard Oostermans ‘Almost There’.

Sometimes,  when things are just too good to be true. They usually are. My Helvi is telling me to calm down and just send the manuscript and see what happens.

What do you reckon, dear readers and followers? Do you smell a rat?

A hot day, but all is still fairly normal.

November 20, 2015
Milo contemplating biting a bit.

Milo contemplating biting a bit.

After emptying the contents of the shopping trolley into the boot I noticed the car’s outside temperature was 39C. We decided against walking Milo around. He was keen, but we were not. Instead took him with us in the car. We took his water dish and water bottle. Both are kept in his own little bag. We always tie him up in the shade with his water dish. Within minutes he gets surrounded by admirers who queue up to pet him.

Isle Nr 5 at Aldi in Bowral is the one that has the liquor license. That’s right, one can buy butter and Whisky all at the same counter, and at the same time, and from the same cash register and no questions asked. How we have progressed. I reckon, eventually all the registers will be so bold and allow the sale of alcohol. It just takes time. Easy does it, especially in Australia where you can sit in a train, have a nap and on awakening still see the same cows outside your window.

Since Milo’s limping with a possible tendon problem we have to lift him in the car. He now also doesn’t jump on his chair anymore. He is wise to his problem and knows his limits.  Soon after Milo’s trouble, I developed an excruciatingly painful back. We are now in a kind of symbiosis where before, one were the strong and large with the other being small and agile. I barely am capable of lifting Milo in the car. He is small but surprisingly heavy. I know how to lift him and even go through a preliminary exercise where I ,ever so gently tell him, ” wait a moment, just wait a moment”, before gently lifting him in the car’s back-seat. I bend my knees as advised by hospital’s doctor. He gave me very strong tablets and they do help but are addictive, so I only take them sparingly or not at all.  I don’t want to end up mugging old ladies while wearing a hoody, kicking them in the groin, and stealing their Panadol Forte.

Milo allows me to lift him in the car. He does look a bit embarrassed but what can you do? He refuses to let Helvi lift him and bites her instead. Not seriously, but he is letting her know he is not happy with her doing it. We find it hilarious. The reason is that Helvi is action woman. She grabs and just does it. A no nonsense woman. Milo always refuses to do anything he is asked. In fact, often does the opposite. That’s why he is so lovable. He doesn’t like being grabbed suddenly and from above,  probably thinks another dog is biting him.

I told Helvi to calmly approach Milo and stroke him a bit first, gently lift him whilst whispering soothing words in his small ears. “Get f*&cked,” she told both of us. I am rather chuffed Milo doesn’t bite me and prefers Helvi. And yet, it is Helvi who makes sure he gets everything he might possibly want and much  more. He gets his wants far in excess of his needs. No wonder the world is in disarray.

This post seems to lack cohesion. The binder of what makes things stick together has gone watery. It must be the heat. 41C now.

But apart from that the day is turning out ‘normal’.

The magic Car. A matter of opinion.

May 4, 2015
The old Chevy  ute.

The old Chevy ute.

Photo Google images.

All good things came to an end. We packed up from the Scheyville camp to move in with our Dutch friends who had written to us in Holland about their success in buying their own place within a few years after arrival in Australia. This sounded a dream come true. My mother was especially keen on getting a place with a bathroom. We used to get a coin to visit a public bathhouse in The Hague. The value of the coin would allow a certain time for taking a shower. Of course we could only afford the shortest of showers with the smallest coin, which meant that one had to undress and shower at the speed of lightning. A large angry man would bang on the door when your time had lapsed.

To have a house with a bathroom was a dream too far in Holland and with the glorious letters arriving in Holland from Australia it did not take long for mum to be convinced that our future laid there where a bathroom could be attained within a few years. Dad was more circumspect. However, the colour movie of postmen leaping fences with white toothed smiling owners on such sunny verdant lawns did impress. His wife could be pretty persuasive. While mum was the practical partner, dad was more of the celestial kind. He loved the heavens and stars. Rumors had it he met my mum one evening when he walked into a moving tram while staring at the sky. He had a bleeding fore-head which she wiped tenderly. They were married within a year. Of course indulging in star gazing together with his other passion- short-wave radios, it was a difficult task. Six children would run around the table while shouting, imitating Indians or cowboys, during those far too many rainy days in our upstairs apartment.

Mum became even more practical in later life when she saw the interview on TV of her son having had the knife put to his vas deferens when Helvi was pregnant with number three. “Oh Helvi, if I had my time over again today, I would have done the same.”   “For sure,” she added with gusto.” That was a rather big step for mum, seeing her religion urged all onto,  ‘let the little ones come.’  Still, it is reassuring that being number two in a line of six, at least I am here to tell the tale!  She told me later on she saw the advice of the doctor if he could not have done something with or to my father to prevent further pregnancies, she felt she had more than enough.  Poor dad, surely they  must have enjoyed  conjugal blessings  more than six times?

The move in our friends house I have no memories of. We would have taken the train to Granville followed by the bus to Woodville Road Guildford. I do remember dad asking for the train tickets to Granville but pronouncing it in French. The station master,   “wha’s that maid, sayj je it agin”? It took a while but we finally got the tickets. What I do remember when walking onto our Friends’ property seeing an old car that had a cabin behind the motor part and a tray behind that. They were the remnants of a utility or presently known as the ‘pick up’.  Was this the car that I had fantasized so much about? The car; half sedan that would morph into a truck by the push of a button?  It was that indeed. It still had three wheels and a stack of bricks where the fourth one would have been in better times. I never saw it being driven.

It might have been  ‘all that glitters isn’t gold’,  but this old Chevy ute was sure past magic.

The house that they had bought, or, what they said they had bought, was rambling old but did have a bathroom with a gas geyser at the back in a lean to. It was a bit like the Chevy, had seen better days. It had a rickety but charming veranda with some loose boards and nails sticking out, but facing the sun.  On one side it had a few rows of bricks in the shape of a room. It Holland they had written to us they were planning to put an extra room on so that we would be able to spread out a bit. It must have come to an abrupt end because weeds were growing over the bricks already!

Still in The Hague. My parents

Still in The Hague. My parents

We were overjoyed to be away from the camp and the routine of queuing for chops and peas. It was a great opportunity to get our life in order. Dad was to get a job and mum back to the household routine. She had her  washing machine shipped over from Holland and its arrival in Sydney in perfect timing with moving into the old friend’s house. We were grateful and happy for a number of days. It wasn’t till my father found out he would not be able to get a job within the Government that things turned a bit bleak again. Non British subjects (together with non-whites) were barred from Governmental jobs. He went to bed not to get up for another six weeks. Fortunately, I did get a job with special ticket of dispensation from the Government, allowing me to work even though I was still under age. I loved earning money from the first time I received my pay packet. It was real cash in a beige coloured envelope with my name and number of hours worked. It even contained paper money.

I kept counting it out over and over again.

The Lunch and WordPress.

April 25, 2015
The flooded creek

The flooded creek

The inability to print my writings from WordPress directly, did not get resolved. It had me flabbergasted which is easily done. Even a spontaneous ‘good morning’  from a stranger on my walk with Helvi and Milo gets me into a spin. It invites me to ponder, what have I done now again? To question another’s walker intention to a simple greeting  shows how easy it is to wallow too far in  introspection. Surely by now, one can accept things for what they are? A motley collection of not getting anywhere near understanding and truths? A hopeless individual flailing about in life’s drying rivers, his arms trying desperately to grab the overhanging weeping willow. Is this what one is doomed to?

I spare you the details of my print ‘direct from WP’ efforts and subsequent derailment from sanity. It was all futile. The language of Micro-soft is as foreign to me as Swahili. Not for me Tags and Collapsing menus, Browsers and Internet Explorers, Tools and Http’s, IClouds and Dreamweaving.

I just remembered in time a good friend that loves computers and who has helped us before, solving stressful problems, including mind- boggling technical manoeuvres for us. Yet a few presses here and there by our friend and the nightmare problem gone.  The deftness of our grandkids when we are faced with an insurmountable glitch on an IPhone we struggled with for hours are resolved without even looking up from what they are busy with. What hope for us? Our grandkids look at us now with barely hidden mirth and knowing glances to each other. Poor Opa, he is starting to slip. He had a hard life! I don’t tell them that I have been slipping ever since I shunned anything more complicated than yes or no, on or off, warm or cold. At their dawning we encourage them too and explore and find out thing by themselves. They too will travel and experience both the sun, shade and storms of life.

As predicted, when our friend arrived it was over in no time. Instead of Internet Explorer I have to go now to do a Google Chrome. Google Chrome is a web-browser. How does anyone know this? What secret  exchanges of Internet knowledge goes on without our knowledge? Do experts meet in the dark wearing gabardine worsted rain coats under dripping awnings,  giving funny handshakes and knowing glances?

When all the Google Chrome changeover was finished we had lunch at The Emporium pub. Our computer friend and Helvi chose barramundi fish with chips and salad. I chose the two sausages with mash and avocado mixed with Dijon mustard. A nourishing highly aromatic sample of this dish was already waiting for a customer under a hot-keeping light. Smoke was seen curling up from the brown sausages as from an old comfortable weatherboard’s  chimney, waiting under an ageing tree with leaf litter and some kindling.  It smelt delicious and the mash was equal sauced in brown gravy.  At times, the lure of a well proven dish becomes very attractive to a man who is slipping. I have senior times now where I lose courage and the fortitude  required for a pork belly or strips of exotic marinated puffer-fish with brandy jelly.

We waited at our table  for the buzzer to start vibrating. In the meantime, a waiter whose kitchens and menus are his domain, spoke to us. His face was deeply lined and I knew why. He worked very hard setting up his latest venture, a real Italian pizza café. He wanted to know what we thought of his new wood-fired pizzas. He imports  special milled flour and tomatoes from Italy and uses the finest of ingredients. Imported Portuguese anchovies, the best of lean strips of wood smoked black forest ham with prosciutto and speck with enough of a rind to be a challenge for kids who go for ‘the meat-lover’ variety. The pizzas get served up on a  polished wooden plate and are the finest in town. There are at least four pizza places now.

There might be other reasons for his lined face. People go through life dealing with hard issues never mentioned in everyday banter. ‘Oh, I am fine when asked, really good lately’. ‘How are you?’ Oh, yah, really good. Tops really, could not be better!’

We can never be sure, but bravely keep going like most of us. Laughter helps.

I hope your culture is normal.

March 28, 2015
grandsons.

grandsons.

I thought I knew culture, or at least the average ‘normal’ person’s understanding of its meaning. But nothing surprised me more than when I got acquainted with a different, totally new form of culture, never experienced before. I also know that many people take rests on chairs, chaise lounges, settees, fauteuils or even the simple piano stool. There is nothing odd about man’s need for the occasional rest, even on a stool. But.., I am getting ahead of myself; This tale of surprise and  discovery of a new kind of culture needs time to ripen and mature. Ecoutez svp and get a little closer to your screen.

Over the last week or so I have been busy with domestic things, paying bills, emptying the dish-washer, putting bins on the street and even doing a thorough vacuum with the hand held one instead of the robovac. As readers might remember,  some weeks ago I gave in, relented,  bought an  automatic vacuum cleaner that roams the rooms and ferrets around corners and underneath book shelves in between beds and saucepans.  I find it fascinating to watch, seeing how it sends signals out to avoid obstacles and dead corners. The Robovac does a fair job but with rough coated Milo one needs to do a hand-held in between. On top of that I had to prepare myself for working this Saturday handing out ‘how to vote cards’ for the Green party of which I have been a member for just a few months. The state of NSW is having an election with everyone at fever pitch. The dogs are howling and swallows are flying erratically. They know it too. I also fitted in a quick visit to the Moss Vale medical centre  to check on a persistent pesky stomach bug.

Here it comes!

The good doctor from Indian background, whom I had not met before, did a good job, asking me all the relevant questions. History if any, of stomach problems, family background, dodgy genes, fainting spells, giddiness, what job I did, smoke, drink etc.? He finally prodded around my stomach a bit, but nothing painful or abnormal, and suggested I do some kind of what I understood a ‘culture test’. I agreed and thought any culture in Australia will do me, even if it is just the usual blood test. He wrote out the pathology note and as the pathologist outfit is next to the medical centre he suggested I do it straight away. The sooner the better, he smiled and shook my hand.

Helvi and I always go together to doctors as we do to shops or just walking around with Milo. In fact, we are probably noticed on our walks as a couple who are inseparable. Helvi glanced over to the lady behind the pathology counter and smiled. I too smiled and handed over the pathology request form. She read the doctor’s  note and smiled encouragingly. “Have you done a ‘stool culture’ before, she asked”? The penny dropped. I knew this culture were no ordinary culture, let alone a B’s ninth symphony or viewing of the pyramids of Cheops. Of all of life’s foibles, how did it come to this? I used to play in a sandpit and dreamt of castles.

h464B99F8 stool sample

No, I haven’t done ‘that’ before I answered.”I’ll get you the necessary kit”, still smiling by nurse! I wasn’t smiling. The horror of what was to now come became clear. I looked back and Helvi was smiling broadly. For some reason women seem to find this a really amusing procedure for men to undergo. Nurse said: “There are ‘just’ two small containers you need to fill with a small scoop fitted on the back of each lid”, ” you fill the two small ones from the ‘big’ container, she added. I sunk below vision, and meekly said something like ‘far-out’ or ‘can’t wait. Nurse’s eyes met mine and a moment of some embarrassment  was acknowledged and with a smile she winked. It helped.  She had seen all this before and she understood.

By now, nurse was really being encouraged by Helvi having to keep her mouth covered hiding her mirth and smile, and yet nurse had the nous to further explain; “the large bowel is for putting it in the toilet bowl to catch your stool”. This last remark should have reached its zenith of  relevant stool culture information. It did not.  More was yet to come.  “You can use the scoop on the back of the smaller containers’ lids to fill each of them them”, she said. “You must also give details of date and time of each time of your ‘stool production’ on the label, and number them as a 1 or  a 2”. “Don’t forget to wash the big container or use a new one each time. “AN ICE- CREAM container will do”, she said. By this time nurse was openly smiling and I was beyond caring. It would have been far worse if it had all been done in all seriousness. I mean, how could this possibly be a serious issue?

Even so, I hope that the future doesn’t hold anymore  medical cultural events like this one. I would much prefer to see Wagner’s ‘ring cycle’.

Ps. I played along  wanting to be seen as suffering the ultimate crestfallen male with his fragile ego, hitting the very lows of the absurdity of his idea of masculinity. The very idea of a ‘real’ man scooping his own faeces is unlimited material for comedy and laughter.  It was very funny and a bit of a show for the other patients sitting in chairs waiting their turn while listening in.

Life gets complicated but you have to face up to it, even when it includes strange cultures.