Posts Tagged ‘Helvi’

A Place of Repose

April 14, 2018

From Wiki.

“Repose is a formal or literary term used to mean the act of resting, or the state of being at rest. Repose is also a state of mind: freedom from worry. As a verb, repose means to rest or relax, or to rest on something for support: There he was, reposing on the front porch.”

IMG_0039a place to repose

In the renewed effort to reclaim a more balanced and benign view of the present world there could hardly be a better place to achieve it than shown above. The cushion that our Jack Russell ‘Milo’ is resting on is the reversed soft cotton side. The other side is deemed by him too rough. It is actually a piece of worn Afghan rug made into a large cushion cover we bought somewhere on our travels up North near Brisbane some years ago. You can see how low we have sunk to cater for his every whim. Sometimes I feel Milo is the owner and we mere yeomen, just renting, cap in hand!

The reason for the need of a place to repose is that the bleached bones of some of my past were getting to poke out of storm’s dust, causing anxiety to well up far too frequently and making me feel the fate as unnecessary fickle and punishing. We all know the black-dog’s friendship with darker moods. It is thought and I agree, that the search of man’s obsession for everlasting happiness is futile, unnecessary and might also be very boring. However, the opposite of accepting a pervasive gloom is not really all that popular either. So, what about a bit of each?  Could that be the answer?

Medicine is often prescribed as an answer to shadowy moods, but apart from an aspirin and thyroxine I have never taken any mood changing stimulants, excluding the sharing of coffee in morning and Shiraz at the evening. The capriciousness of fate is hopefully teaching me in accepting the past what can’t be changed. We might as well accept. You would have thought that a man in his late seventies could have come to that insight a bit earlier, but…better late than never. I might just be a late learner and having migrated at fifteen did something.

From now on I will take up residence for a couple of hours each day in the chair where I took the photo from, just behind Milo on his claimed cushion and ‘repose’. The beauty of those few square metres is sublime. Helvi made this Nirvana and paradise. It is just perfect, especially after about four pm when the sun is starting to take a rest and slowly goes down making a mood for respite of heavy thoughts perfect for a change into something lighter and positive. Is it in the opposites, the Wu Wei of life that there might be an answer?

What do you think and looking at Milo, does he give an answer?

 

 

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Family news-flash.

February 2, 2018
IMG_0827windflower

Japanese Windflower

Well, as they say, ‘there is never a dull moment.’ There isn’t a nook or cranny that we are now not familiar with in regard to our local hospitals. How a fortuitous choice we took some eight years ago in the decision to live almost next door to not one but two hospitals. It’s a toeing and froing not just of ambulances but also care-flight helicopters whirring over our roof-top picking or delivering patients that are in a hurry to receive life saving procedures. What a prime position! At our age one needs to be within metres of caring nurses and doctors. Better than water views. We are also blessed with two hospital cafes. So both, the alcohol laced hand sanitisers and the lattes are never far away.

Going back to ‘never a dull moment’, Helvi came home from her operation two days ago. The lumps and nodes that were cancerous, removed by the surgeon. We are now waiting for the community nurse to exchange the plastic bag into which her lymphatic fluid is being directed to flow in.  Compared with her chemo therapy, the breast operation was a pic-nic. Yesterday we joined the community care organisation and met two of their staff who will now take care of Helvi’s post operation recovery.

Helvi doesn’t really like any attention to herself and her plight, so I have been somewhat reluctant to write about something which she feels is unimportant in the general scheme of things. She is more interested and concerned in issues of others.

Even so, she is happy how many people have shown they care and is grateful for the attention and well-wishing she received and is still receiving. It is amazing. The dedication and sheer hard work of hospital staff admirable.  Helvi is thanking all the blog followers and friends and will keep you informed.

This journey is ongoing.

Hugs, Helvi and Gerard

 

 

An unexpected journey.

January 12, 2018

 

photoflooded riverThe Oosterman Treats has been a bit quiet lately. Let me try explain why. My wife Helvi  was diagnosed with breast cancer some three months ago. Perhaps I should use the more gender neutral word of ‘partner.’ Apparently the gender police want reference to male or female lessened or at least only allow it used for pass-port applications. The same-sex ideology seems to get a bit over-excited.

Anyway, breast cancer struck way out of nowhere. Who would think that having reached the age of late seventies it could still happen? The annual letter to have free mammograms stopped after seventy. The funding apparently is tight and limited.  Helvi never wanted to make a fuss over herself and wasn’t all that keen for me to write and use it in my blog. She is just that kind of girl, always concerning herself about others and isn’t keen to talk about herself or sicknesses anyway.

The subsequent chemotherapy thrice spread at three weekly intervals left her immunity very low with the ever opportunistic infections promptly taking advantage and giving her pneumonia. On Christmas day with a kilo of raw prawns, a leg of lamb and the pavlova ripening in the fridge, I took Helvi to the local Bowral Hospital just a hundred metres from here. She was so weak and could hardly stand up. I get choked thinking about how she was.

Helvi was taken to ‘High Dependent Unit’ and stayed there for five night before going to a recovery ward for another six nights. One night I was asked to spend a night with her and a special roll out bed was provided. She was so sick and agitated. Helvi has lost 15 kilos during the chemotherapy period.

The good news is that the chemo has worked with the experts very pleased. The chemo has now been delayed giving Helvi the chance to get her appetite and reasonable health back again. Within the next couple of weeks Helvi will be operated to have either a lumpectomy or mastectomy. The journey is ongoing.

Her care in Hospital was fantastic and the dedication of nurses inspiring. Nothing was too much and to consider the shortage of staff and the hard work they perform I am amazed the system still seems to work so well. I so wished they would get paid accordingly. I noticed some of the most vital equipment seemed in need of repair or modernising. The sink had been taken out of her ward because it was needed more urgently elsewhere leaving the taps open for patients to get water running over the floor. Someone then taped them up to avoid flooding.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-01-12/nsw-set-for-major-shortage-of-nurses-and-midwives/9321464

So, that is the story at this stage.

A mere bagatelle is that my Visa Credit card had been compromised to the tune of $1100.- I never use credit or any bank cards but have it to get dividends paid in and for automatic payments such as Toll charges and subscriptions. I suspect that my renewal for Norton Anti Virus was used by some scammer to fleece my account. Strange transactions in US dollars in Hong Kong and Cayman islands turned up. My Visa card was stopped and the fraudulent transaction credited to my account. With all that what was going on with my dearest Helvi, I could have done without that.

Please, wish Helvi well.

This journey of Violets continues with shy Clivias.

October 16, 2017

IMG_1163Violets etc

Creating secret areas in a small garden is very possible. Just allow growing things to go their own way. We rarely take plants out, instead provide freedom for whatever might want to grow.  The background of the bay trees against the paling fence at the back of our garden is being utilised to provide shelter and shade to many plants, especially many Clivias that are now flowering so generously.

The bay trees have just finished flowering and we continue to sweep up the debris. It is odd, but I can’t remember actually using the plethora of bay leaves in any of our cooking nor putting them in my sock drawer. Heaven knows my socks can do with bay-leaves.

In my mother’s cooking, bay leaves were often the main course, or at least I seem to still recall the taste and smell of them, especially in her roasts. She might well have over-used bay leaves in her cooking. It’s odd how even smells from decades ago, one can still recall. I don’t think bay leaves were used to ward of moths in the wardrobes of my childhood. I think she used those white moth balls.  I discovered rummaging through those mothball laden wardrobes a secret hoard of coins in a wooden box. The coins were all in separate divisions with the names of my brothers all neatly written on them.

My dad did not like eating shoulder of sheep/lamb and it could well be that the excess use of the bay leaves were cunningly used to hide my mother’s ploy to dish up sheep disguised as roast beef. My mother was very thrifty and sheep was cheaper. In any case, rummaging through those wardrobes and finding the coins I used to pilfer my brothers’ hoard of coins  to occasionally buy an ice-cream. Oh, how they tasted so wonderful and without guilt. The benefits of a still uncorrupted childhood.

Kalanchoe

Here is a rather haughty Kalanchoe. It had to be elevated so it is perched on top of the Mexican Chimeney in which we sometimes light a fire during a chilly winter’s afternoon. Isn’t it beautiful?

Both the light ceramic blue and white pot in the first picture and the dish below the Kalanchoe are from the same before mentioned pottery friend. The little white flowering bush on the left side is a Hebe.

Using Global Positioning System to the Doctor.

April 10, 2017

Almost There

The arrival of the driverless car can’t come quick enough. There are far too many drivers on the road that should never be allowed near any car, let alone inside a car.  I don’t actually like most other drivers. There can be no greater joy than driving past a car parked along the highway with a flashing police car stationed behind it. The police car has special investigation equipment to know the history of the car and its driver.  The driver in the car just has to wait in the knowledge the policeman will soon come out of their car and present a fine, or worse. The best of those cases are when the driver is asked to get out of the car and told he or she is not allowed to continue driving because of a lost license, levels of inebriation, methamphetamine use, unroadworthiness of the vehicle or heaven knows what else.

This happened to us many years ago when living in Holland. I was a hippy had a perm done, smoked bongs. Helvi did tie-dying and wore long skirts. Both of us listened to Carly Simon and were ardent admirer’s of the late Trotsky without knowing much about it. We converted a Kombi van in which we took trips to Paris. It eventually needed new tyres but were suitably lax in buying them in time. The police in Holland are sharp and  pulled me over. They inspected the tyres and without further ado slashed one of them with a special knife. We bought four new tyres very promptly.

The Pro-Office remind calendar told us that last Saturday a yearly appointment with a specialist  doctor was due in Liverpool. I felt confident enough to take the journey without plugging in our Tomtom GPS. We had done the trip several times before.

Liverpool is one of those chaotic cities that are so common in Australia. Residential homes, factories, commercial unidentifiable building all thrown about as if by a demented architect out on revenge. In between many vacant overgrown with weeds are allotments littered by abandoned trolley or empty baby prams. The inevitable yawning car yard appears in between all the chaos. The words ‘special’ or ‘closing down’ are strewn about like confetti at a drunken Russian wedding with the groom sprawled out on top of a plate of borscht. The Norwegian Edvart Munch’s The Scream pops up as well.

This visual assault is something we struggle with whenever or wherever we travel by car. The soothing voice of the GPS commentator a much needed anchor to keep me grounded within borders of acceptable sanity. It soothes me; ” turn right after 400 metres.” Or, “take the next second exit after the round-a-bout.” It is so becalming and reassuring.

However, as noted I had not put on the GPS. In a moment of inattention I had forgotten to take a turn to the left. A disastrous mistake. On Toll-ways, a mistake can have dire consequences. Helvi remained silent. She knows my limited boundaries in the area of remaining calm and collected. There were no signs of left turns anywhere. A buzzer in my car went off indication a toll charge had been collected. We finally managed to get off this Toll way and soon found the road to Liverpool again. Helvi took me to task and bluntly told me not to go anywhere without plugging in the Tomtom. “Why do you have one?”, she asked not unreasonably.  Followed up by; ” why do you have it in the car?”

We still made it in time to the doctor and were out of his surgery within twenty minutes. “No worries,” Helvi smiled.  To get back on harmonious levels, I made a point of sticking on the GPS and clicked on our ‘home’ address. It guided us back seamlessly. The soothing voice taking me into my previous conviviality.  We stopped on the way home in a nice pub and shared a Napoli pizza. Helvi had an Italian Pinot Gris and I had a nice schooner of stout.

It all came good, but only just.

 

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.