Posts Tagged ‘Holland’

The earnestness of an anti electric-car Prime Minister.

April 22, 2019
The Dementia                               Village

 

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

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

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

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

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

The Dementia Village

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

 

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The Tent.

February 8, 2019
Image result for Tents

In our efforts to become leaner and not willing to burden our family with the washed-up flotsam of our earthly but temporary stay, we undertook to try and ditch some possessions we no longer use. The clutter of our third bedroom, used as an office is where we started some time ago. All those papers stored, ‘just in case’ but never looked at again. Do we really want to look at old gas bills, or Water & Sewage rates and taxation notices? Out they went.

We had stacks of photo albums. Hundreds of camping trips when our children were small. Holidays on the South Coast dating back to the sixties and seventies. Many recorded by my Agfa Clack camera bought from my savings while delivering fruit and vegetables to embassies in The Hague just prior to my parents’ adventure migrating to Australia. That camera was indestructible. Colour films at that time were sent to Melbourne for developing and it wasn’t cheap. Later on a new camera was bought and recorded our overseas trips to France, Holland, South America and a still lovely Bali, with some of our best memories from Santiago de Chile post Pinochet, and Argentina. We kept the best of those photos now stored in a blue Dutch Verkade biscuit tin and chucked the  empty faded albums in the recycle bin.

We have as a matter of getting away from inside our house also made attempts at cleaning up our garden shed. It seems that order of things don’t last even without actually using tools from within the shed. Sooner or later things become disorderly again out of their own volution. We discovered a rather large and bulky bag that looked almost as if it held an assortment of cricket gear. Most unlikely. We are to cricket what a herring is to a seagull.

It was a tent!

The tent was used a lot on our previous life on the farm. We can still hear the echoes of laughter from our grandchildren who, with their mothers, slept in the tent on many occasions. They would take books and read with light from candles. Did we not all do that when young? We did. I had rigged up a battery with a small globe and read Jules Verne’s adventures under the blankets during winter’s nights with the windows all iced up with frost designed flowering shaped greetings in the morning. Dutch winters were still cold.

With our grandkids now almost young adults and us on life lengthening medications we are most unlikely to go camping again. How would we get up from the ground? I suppose by the help of a tent pole. Over the last few weeks we did leave useful items on the ‘nature strip’ at the front of our housing complex. The nature strip is a green grassy area reserved for Australian suburbs. It also sums up to me a kind of terrible dullness. The noise of the petrol lawnmower doesn’t liven it up either.  Anyway, it held our small enamelled barbeque and several still working electric fans. They were all soon taken. However, I did not want to abuse this nature strip too often, and decided on a different method for ditching the tent.

Last Wednesday morning I went to the Moss-Vale Returned Soldiers Club for my weekly indoor bowling event. I thought that leaving the tent in the parking area, no doubt someone will get the benefit of this still in very good condition tent. The tent is one of those spring loaded pole affairs and easily put up. It was also large, for six people and a shade sheet for over the top with a floor sown onto the sides. Years of designing this tent went into its production.

After arrival at 10am, I parked the car out of sight from other cars. I opened the door and gently lowered the tent on the bitumen next to our Peugeot. No one had seen me doing it. But…just before the start of bowling who would walk in with a large bag? It was Peter.

‘Guess what I found next to my car, Peter said’?  It was my tent. He had parked next to my car after arrival. Other bowling mates advised Peter to unzip the bag to see what it was. I acted just as surprised and even said; ‘perhaps it is a gun’! After unzipping, it was found to be a tent. I wasn’t surprised. He decided to hand it in to the office near the entrance where members are always asked to show their identification before being allowed in. When I left after the bowling was over, I noticed the bag with the tent at the back of the office counter.

It had found a good home.

English Gramma(r) and sharing a banana.

January 3, 2019

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Is it true that todays bananas are getting bigger or am I shrinking, and the comparison is at fault? In any case, I now share the banana with Helvi. It is part of our morning ritual, as is our blood pressure measuring. This morning it was a nice 105 over 66 with a pulse of 82. I generally cut the banana with a large cleaver. Sometimes Helvi does it too but uses a smaller knife. After all that, we proceed with opening our pill boxes and take the first of a range of medications spaced out through the rest of the day. In between morning’s duties we sip coffee and tea between talk.

Part of my school education back in Holland was the learning of four languages. It was compulsory at that time for all students going through a high school. Learning English started at Primary school. After our family left Holland 1956, my school education stopped and since then my limited learning of world’s  language skills came through curiosity and reading. It was a case of self-educating and becoming an ‘autodidact’ as is sometimes called.

I was fascinated to read how the English language evolved. English is a typical product of illogicality. I remember as a schoolboy being annoyed that English words were not pronounced as they were written. It is baffling why the language lacks phonetics. Normal languages pronounce words as they are written, but of course, not in England.  The English language is just part of a culture steeped in Illogicality. Just listen to their parliament or Fawlty Towers. They are both the same. And then the circus of Brexit!

I was heartened to read in a book ‘The Lexicographer’s Dilemma, by Jack Lynch, that through the decades attempts were made to simplify English. George Bernard Shaw campaigned to make it more phonetic but with frustratingly little success. In 1906 the Simplified Spelling Board attempted to change the spelling of many words but it turned out even more complicated. Here below are just a few examples how this attempt made the English language even more strange and difficult.

autograf-autograph, biografy-biography, crum-crumb, dout-doubt, tung-tongue. etc

As one can see, the new way of spelling became even less rational. It added letters , mainly consonants, that are not used in speech. They remain unuttered and left unspoken. It is now totally out of the question to make English more phonetic with spelling reforms. We will just have to put up with an abundance of spelling mistakes that is common even amongst those having grown up with just English without the benefits knowing a second or third language.

English  despite it being a difficult and obstinate language, remains the world most spoken language. I like it for its complexities and nuances. It remains to be my favourite tongue. Yet, in my dreams I still speak Dutch.  That language hasn’t left but am unsure if expressing it would be now as fluent (or clumsy) as my English.

Who knows?

From Wiki; ” Phonetic, using a system of written symbols that represent speech sounds in a way that is very close to how they actually sound.”

 

Family and Migrating.

November 22, 2018

IMG_3364Grandfather

My Paternal Grandfather.

I remember my grandfather more than my grandmother. He was a joker often playing pranks on me but without malice. I remember their house. It was large and had a garden in a very beautiful part of Holland not far from Amsterdam. My grandfather and grandmother with so many other relatives we never saw again. It was a goodbye forever. We did see my mother’s sister and one of my father’s sister on a few occasions when we visited them. My father never saw his parents again.  I wonder how it must have felt for my parents saying goodbye all those many years ago?(1956)

IMG_3363Grandmother

Paternal Grandmother.

The above painting of my grandmother is the only image I have of her. It would have been painted by her husband, my grandfather. He was a painter of church murals as well as designer in glass in lead works. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Jan_Oosterman

I remember less of her than granddad. I don’t know why. I recently discovered a letter my granddad wrote to my parents in Australia. A rather formal letter which made me think that in those earlier times relationships were perhaps more formal between parents and children than today. Looking at old photographs people often look more serious. Perhaps getting a photograph taken took time and one can only keep a smile for that long.

. imagesCAGVCW15

Granddad painting while smoking a pipe.

The above photo portrays an idyllic afternoon. At the bottom it show my grandmother carrying a cup of something. Perhaps there were guests?

imagesCA3UWFVI

Pensive grandparents wearing slippers.

This photo might well have been one of the last taken. Granddad died in an ‘old age’ home in Amsterdam at the respectable age of 87.

And that’s how it goes.

 

On the treadmill.

November 15, 2018

photoCupboard after French Polishing

‘Why don’t you see the doctor and get yourself checked out?’ This came to me from Helvi, one morning sipping her first coffee and my first and last tea for the day. I don’t generally see doctors unless feeling crook which is rarely. My dad was the same. He was right to avoid them. Last time he saw a doctor he was dead the next day. He died at 78 which I am now. It was on the 7th of January that he died suddenly.  We all went and flew to Holland for his funeral. I remember cleaning out his ashtrays and getting rid of his tobacco, cigarette papers and other bits and pieces. I am somewhat nervous seeing the 7th of January. It won’t be long!

I went to see the doctor because I ran out of puff just sitting on the lounge. It did not seem right. During our walks I  noticed a quickening of breathing and taking rests. No harm done seeing the quack, I thought. Her advice was to get lung X-ray taken. It showed good lungs but my heart was a bit enlarged and indicative of having suffered a heart attack. You could have fooled me. I hadn’t noticed any heart attacks. Apparently that happens often. She wrote out a referral to the same cardiologist that Helvi is seeing. The secretary advised me to take a ‘stress test’ first. She explained this involved a treadmill exercise to measure how the heart performs when under stress due to the expelled energy on the treadmill. I was more than curious how this would work out.

At the appointed day, both Helvi and I fronted up at the cardiologist. We always see together all doctors at medical appointments of which there have been a fair number. Our fridge is plastered with appointments. It is becoming almost part of our social life. We know the doctors and staff and greet each other when crossing the street on our walks. In the evenings, after the news and quaffing a fine Pinot Gris, we ask each other if an appointment is getting close. Memories are getting sloppy and we keep each other on our toes as much as possible. The toes are getting a bit arched as well. Every now and then, on the television, footage is shown whereby some poor mum, dad, or old soul gets beaten up in an aged care facility. It really helps us to stay firm and lithe enough to avoid that kind of ‘tough love.’

I was asked to take my shirt off. A series of tapes and wires were attached to my chest both front and back.  This was connected to a machine just next to the treadmill. I mounted the treadmill which was then switched on. I have never experienced such a machine but soon got the hang of it. The speed and incline were increased and within minutes I was running flat tack. My boots were clattering on the rubber treadmill floor till I became totally exhausted. This happened fairly quickly. The machine stopped and I was led back to the chair. I was knackered. As a result I was giving lots of medications. The outcome was an irregular heartbeat and my heart wasn’t doing a good job. It is not pumping as it should.

A further appointment was made to get a ‘Myocardial Perfusion Scan’ done at the Nuclear Medicine facility not far from us on the main street. I had this done as well, but that’s for another article.

Be grateful for all you have, even if it is not enough.

 

The King Parrot is happy too.

October 18, 2018

IMG_0144King Parrot.PNG

Jeffrey Sachs spelled it out on one of our Q&A TV programmes a couple of weeks ago. Good social conditions and support makes all the difference. Paying liveable incomes to the unemployed, pensioners or the disabled does not cause cultural collapse as is often touted by extreme capitalist leaders. The list of ‘happy countries’ proves that. Our PM and cohorts often cite that giving ‘free’ money makes people avoid work and lazy, encourages decadence as seen by SSM community now demanding wedding cakes. Unbelievable!

Countries that seem to be on top of the happiness scale each year, by and large, are also enjoying social democratic Governments. Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Iceland  Finland. They prove that good social conditions improve employment, reduces crime and homelessness. It makes for ‘happiness.’

IMG_0139Bowral garden.JPG

 

“Based on a global ranking of happiness levels across 156 countries, Finland has claimed the No. 1 spot in this year’s World Happiness Report.

Now in its sixth year, the World Happiness Report is produced by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network.

The organization, along with three economists from Columbia University, the University of British Columbia and the London School of Economics’ Center for Economic Performance, created the report using data from the Gallup World Poll to reveal which countries are happy and why.

The report was released on March 14, less than a week before the United Nations celebrates World Happiness Day on March 20.

This year, the United States ranked No. 18 — falling four spots from last year and five from two years ago — “in part because of the ongoing epidemics of obesity, substance abuse and untreated depression,” according to World Happiness Report co-editor and Columbia University professor Jeffrey Sachs.

Over the past two years, the world’s top 10 happiest countries have remained the same, but have slightly shuffled positions. Through a measurement of happiness and well-being called the “Cantril ladder,” Gallup asked nationally representative populations to value their lives on a scale from 0 to 10, with the worst possible life valued at 0 and the best valued at 10.

The top countries frequently have high values for all six of the key variables that contribute to overall well-being: income (GDP per capita), healthy life expectancy, social support, freedom, trust (absence of corruption) and generosity.”

Reffos and Tulips.

October 2, 2018

IMG_0126 Tulips.JPG

A carpet of Tulips in Bowral.

The film ‘The Ladies in Black’, left enough of an impression for me to urge people to see it. The film deals in some parts about the influx of reffos into Australia during the fifties. That’s the period this Australian film is set in. The ‘reffo’ was a shortened term for refugees. Our family came to Australia in 1956. We were not reffos in the strictest term. Europe in Australia during the fifties was seen as a war-ravaged stain on a map. Geographical and political differences between Hungary or Holland were beyond interest or hardly known. The issues in this magnificent movie really hit home. The differences (and similarities) in cultures are what this film, in a kind and humorous way, points out. The poignancy for H and I was overwhelming. One is always pleased when things we experienced about the past, agrees and coincides with others. When pointed out in a major film, it is double pleasing.

https://theaimn.com/nostalgia-and-sunshine-bruce-beresfords-ladies-in-black/

The ambiguity of migrating to another part of the world will probably stay with me till the very end. Was the pain of leaving own country and friends worth it?  The mental dehydration suffered in foreign and strange suburbs! Those differences experienced between the locals and the Reffos during the fifties, the lack of herrings, garlic ,olives, and real coffee. The blight of the determined curmudgeon.

Australia in the fifties was a kinder and more tolerant place though. The governments of that period did not foment xenophobia nor detained refugees on hellish islands for years on end.

The present Prime Minister is a fervent Pentecostal believer. Yet on his desk he proudly shows a sign ‘We stopped the boats,’ referring callously to the detained refugees on those islands. Their punishment is used to warn and prevent refugees from trying to come to Australia. They are saying ‘if you try, and come here by boat we will lock you up on those islands for the rest of your life.’ In the fifties Australia did not try and demonise a single African group doing 1 % of crime and yet close their eyes to the other 99% of crime perpetrated by local born.

The tulips belong to a different class. Nothing scary here, dear readers. You can tell they are just there to give us pleaure.  This photo was taken this morning. There must be thousands of tulip photos being e-mailed around the world. The Tulip show in Bowral was magnificent. https://www.southern-highlands.com.au/tulip-time

It always brings me back to the time in Holland. I used to cycle to the tulip fields. Can you imagine seeing tulip fields as far as the eye can see? In different colours too. The tulips in Bowral are in cahoots with sun and clouds. I am sure they talk to each other.It dazzles and so many people taking selfies. In years to come grandchildren might find the tulip photos in drawers and wonder about the lives at earlier times.

Try and see ‘the Ladies in Black’, and the Tulips.

 

 

Blue flower.

August 19, 2018

 

IMG_0095A Star

This pretty blue flower is from a bulb. We bought a packet of mixed bulbs a few years ago and planted them in a dish. Without fail, they reward us each spring. They pop up mid-winter. Nothing happens much except for grass-like greenery to spill over the edges. Come mid August and the first flower arrives and delights us no end. It came by stealth during the night in full moon’s light. It wasn’t there the day before!

Perhaps it is a snow-flower or star flower. My father used to delight in a small plant that he grew indoors when still living in The Hague, Holland. I can still see him peering at it. It was called, ‘Star of Bethlehem’. The apartment we lived in was on the third floor and had no garden. Dad made an indoor garden and the lounge room had many plants growing on all the window sills. It delighted dad no end. His greatest triumph was the Clivia flowering. We all had to admire the Clivia when it flowered. Mum made sure we did!

The delights of growing things doesn’t really need to be on a grand scale. The single blue flower above gives its beauty so generously. From now on we will look at this modest flower each day. I am sure more little blue flowers will arrive soon as well.

The sun is getting stronger but rain is needed.

 

The Frugals have gone.

April 18, 2018

Image result for Early wooden barrel Westinghouse washing machines

Our washing machine in Australia.

 

Do people still know anyone who is frugal? History tells us that in the past it was normal to be frugal. The Frugals wore clothes till they worn out and kept the best for church or funerals. They darned socks. Does anyone still darn today? A needle with woollen thread was used till the hole went. You don’t throw stuff away because it has a hole, or because it becomes unfashionable. The frugal gene in Australia really became embedded after WW 1 followed by the great depression of the late twenties/ thirties. Generations of frugals would switch off lights not because of saving the environment or global heating but because it saved money. The best way to survive was to become a frugal.

The period during and after WW1 meant the decimation of many Australian males which left an almost doubling of young females keen to find husbands. However, to add to the misery of male shortages it was also rare for females to work, and earn an income. Females just did not work on payable jobs but slogged away at home on the scrubbing board and darning socks.  I know this because that’s what was done in my family, although we, even while still in Holland, managed to have an electric washing machine; an early Westinghouse. That was in the early fifties, when economies started to grow and blossom, making people better off. This electric monster of a washing machine with its oak steel-hooped drum was shipped over to Australia after Mum and Dad decided to migrate there. It was admired in the whole street and worked ceaselessly for many years. It was another proof of sensibility and ardent frugality.

It was perhaps the Korean war and after the Vietnam war that the frugals were starting to loose their grip on domestic frugality. The expenditure on useless consumer gadgets started to raise its ugly head. This was followed by ‘easy terms’. Everything was obtainable through easy terms. It thoroughly corrupted my Mum who foolishly bought a Sunbeam electric frying pan on ‘easy terms.’ Dad followed with buying a B/W TV for an enormous amount of money to be paid over three years. Can you believe it?

Even so, frugality somehow survived. It was the hippy movement with Hair that desperately tried to hang on sensible frugal living with the urge to resist mindless consumerism, but that was overcome by Governments and the invention of huge public hoardings, urging us to buy Instant Coffee with 43 beans or Lovable Bras that could ‘lift and separate’,  nurturing spending, and corrupting us in the belief that the endless buying of things just for the sake of buying was good enough and gave lots of Happy to the chagrined.

All this of course is what happens today. During the previous epoch of frugality, houses, kitchen and bathrooms were not seen as items to be updated. Appliances would last forever. Now, the last of the Frugals, look on in amazement, and disbelief  how the baby boomers hurl themselves into four wheel drives and build monster MacMansions. Do they really come from the same gene pool. How did this happen?

The surplus of women after WW1 meant that those that missed out snaring a hubby, started the frugal movement with many sharing meagre incomes and bitter loneliness by living together, mostly in a non-sexual way.

However, as always the pendulum swung the other way with the arrival of tens of thousands of single men enticed by gloriously coloured Australian Governmental advertisements to work the mines in Australia in the forties till the sixties. Many of those from Europe still enjoyed rock solid and well entrenched frugal genes instilled too by same wars and economic depressions. My parents,  even though Dad did not have blond or blue features nor single, did have a knack for the butter to be spread thinly and for his children to always switch off the lights leaving the room.  We worked ‘over-time’. Over-time paid ‘time and a half’, Sundays paid double. I liked working on Sundays. Mum would be most generous in her Papal dispensational discourse for us not having to go to the obligatory Sunday church and earn double instead. We saved to white knuckled bones and pooled our moneys. It was enough to get into our own home within two years. Proof of frugality that paid off.

There you have it. Since WW1 and within, at best three generations, frugality now has swung to rampant consumerism throwing all caution to the wind. To the present generation, darning socks and the Singer sewing machine, they are relics many would not know about, nor the delights of unknitting an old jumper and re-knitting the wool into a pair of slippers. All gone.

The young and good consumers complain how difficult it is to get into the housing market. Yet, they feel it a normal right not to go without what they regard as essential; the café breakfast with avocados, the overseas holiday, the latest Apple iPhone. I have yet to see a young girl on the train with threadbare jeans sewing them up or knitting.  Where are the young knitters to save for a house?

The last of the Frugals are now shuffling into retirement homes. Some brave souls you see driving around, all bald, knock kneed or grey, having hitched a caravan to the SUV, travelling around Australia, whooping it up, perhaps for their very first time.

I remain amazed.

A Lily as fair as a Rose.

April 9, 2018

 

IMG_0025lily

At times beauty should be allowed to take precedence. Last week, at a time just before dusk, a ray of sunshine lid up a bunch of flowers on the table. I was sitting a few metres away from it and was struck by its moment of beauty, I took the photo.

The vase of lilies resting on our table tells a story. The lilies, the story is of its obvious beauty. The table’s story is of a life-long history,  possibly much more. I recently painted the top in white gloss. It needed it. Even though the table is of an antique age and valuable best left as it was, at the age we are in, anything of monetary value becomes somewhat inconsequent. Who cares? It gives us great pleasure eating at this table, all white and shiny.

This table and most of our furniture we got while living in Holland in the 1970’s on a very old Saxon farm with a thatched roof. The farm was for sale and with the bargaining between us and its owner, the inclusion of some very beautiful old furniture, the deal was struck. It included the old table whose top is now painted white, giving rest to the vase of lilies.

We had all this furniture shipped over after we returned to Australia. It included amongst many items of great beauty, 11 chairs with thatched seats that through the decades became badly worn. It took some time to find someone who still had the art of rethatching those chairs. He was an old man living in an inner-city suburb of Sydney who took one look at the chairs and knew the period the chairs were done originally in. He managed to re-do them perfectly and till now we sit on those chairs enjoying his artistry.

The chair is not just for sitting,

its beauty in the eye outlast,

mere convenience of rest

the story keeps unfolding

for those who read chair