Posts Tagged ‘Holland’

Is Spam going to make a come-back? Just look at my delicious Spam sandwich

July 26, 2020

IMG_0832

Meat factories and churches together with aged-care homes are now producing many clusters of Covid-19. At the beginning of the virus in March or so there was an outbreak of shoppers converging on rolls of toilet paper at supermarkets. It even came to fights over toilet paper. Scuffles broke out, and security guards were called in to stem toilet paper riots and they quickly restored order. Guns in holsters have an amazing calming effect amongst law abiding shoppers. It is with glee that I read that no one was allowed to return hoarded toilet paper, not even a single roll. Some formed gangs that would go around buying up as much toilet paper as possible. They were hoping to corner the market and make a killing.  There must be many a home bulging to the rafters with toilet paper!

While I still don’t understand the love of toilet paper during a crisis, unless some are privy to using it to fill or firm up stews or a pasta sauce, I was busy stocking up some food. I bought noodles, rice and flour reckoning they could keep me in reasonable health during a prolonged lock-down. However I also was delighted still to remember in my increasingly misty mind-storage bin our past relationship with the much revered corned Salted Pork and hAM cans. I believe that the word of that product SPAM came from that abbreviation of mix of food.

The history of that product is legendary. Even Nikita Khrushchev declared that his soldiers would never haven gotten though the war without SPAM. It was a good source of food. The air-raids above Holland towards the end of WW2 by the British delivered tons of that delicious Spam, hence the name ‘Spam raids.’ I can still see my dad running  on a field towards the dropped food cans. He did not score Spam but instead a large tin of very hard but nutritious biscuits that one soaked in warm water, Gee, what a treat they were too. I still shudder when I see modern kids throwing half their food and drinks away.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spam_(food)

While I did not end up buying Spam and instead chose the Corned beef variety it still has that gelatinous feel and look about it. A kind of fond war memory, seeing it saved thousands of people from starvation. The little key on the side is still there and what happy memories well up while turning that little key to unlock and deliver that lovely mushy characteristic odorous meaty mixture from its steel container.

So, today, being a very rainy Sunday and with the news endlessly about the Virus I thought up a nice Spam sandwich. I embellished the corned mushy mixture after slowly, ever so slowly turning the key to get the full entertainment out of this long revered and longed for food by adding some rocket, lettuce, onion, and tomato to it. I then topped in with some Havarti cheese.

What a beautiful sandwich it turned out to be. It made this gloomy Sunday turn into a feast to behold.

Come, join me and try it out.

The long years of the untouched aspidistra, and the parking station.

July 3, 2020

IMG_0774

In the newly acquired town-house court yard stand amongst the clivias (Amaryllidaceae) an aspidistra that is almost as old as I am and that is pretty old. The astonishing thing is not so much its age but more of , how and why ? It is our most neglected plant. I can’t remember watering it and apart from the occasional shower it doesn’t get moisture or nurture from anyone. A bird might fly over it occasionally. Perhaps a careless rosella  aims its droppings at this loveless plant as a sign of their care at least, which nature often astounds us with. I remember Helvi telling me that we took the plant from the farm in Holland and that dates back almost beyond my memory. We smuggled it in the crates of our furniture that included all our household goods with chairs, our home-made slatted bed, egg-cups, pillows, a large Dutch armoire and lots more. So, it is about at least forty five years old considering we left the farm in Holland around 1976.

And now it is outside near the clivias and still very much alive. At the previous place (of the garden slasher) it had a position in the downstairs bathroom and I suppose benefited from the shower droplets or steamy humidity. We sometimes mentioned it when conversation was about the indoor plants which throughout our many years together gave us so much pleasure. I read up about the aspidistra and we should have been more curious about this plant. Its flowers are so short and low that they just never seem to appear and another insightful information states it propagates with the help of slugs that crawl over those stumpy flowers and help to pollinate the plant. Another name for this plant is Cast Iron Plant. Its the plant that gets put in a dark place behind aunty Agnes’ untuned wood framed piano, and gets totally forgotten till aunty gets buried, the house sold, and removalists find this profusely growing aspidistra made of Cast Iron.

As for the parking station. When I visited my sick daughter at StGeorge brand new public hospital, I with the nonchalance and nous of a Mika Häkkinen drove into their large multi story parking station. Little did I know of the drama looming ahead. I have no experience of city living anymore. In any case, this multi story car park seem to attract hoons that race up and down the very curvy car park just to train for the Monte Carlo or the Dutch Assen race, to stay more local. But, forget about the screeching tires and the nose ringed hoons. At the entrance you are given a ticket that you present on the way out. This ticket has a time and date. After you pull the ticket out of the machine only then the boom gate allows you to enter by lifting it up and out of the way. Th ticket has to held onto for dear life. Don’t ever loose it!

When my visit was over, I made my way to the parking station and noticed with some relief that the race drivers had gone. I slowly retrieved my car from level C and made my way down numerous levels to the exit following the yellow painted arrows. I had the parking ticket grimly between my teeth and felt super-confident. I’ll proof a city slicker yet! At the ground floor I drove carefully towards the boom gate and next to a machine that after inserting my credit card and paying the fee would surely lift up and allow me to exit the parking station. But, as I inserted the ticket and thought I paid my charge the notice on the electronic screen kept saying. ‘charge not processed, try again’. I tried and tried and kept looking at the boom gate that stayed rock solid down in position. It then asked me by a mechanical voice to insert my card the other way around. That failed, by then I was getting into a state. I did not want a rage to well up. Just be an old man, I kept telling me. Pretend to be an aspidistra.  Nothing worked, I tapped and inserted and no help. Finally a voice told me to go to the office but ‘don’t leave the car’. Pay cash. But how? I then lost it and shouted to the machine. ‘I am an old man, and I want to pay, but for f”8£k sake let me out. I have a heart condition. ‘ The ‘office’ could sense a man holding onto the mast before the ship sunk, and soon a man appeared opened the machine and then told me ‘you did not put a ticket in’. I told him I did. He said ‘where is the ticket’, and held up a handful of tickets. My ticket was $10.40 but I wasn’t going to help him sort through tickets.

I said, ‘do you think I am lying?’ I am eighty years old and would I skimp on paying my dues?  He said, no and repeated, where is your ticket? I remained quiet and just looked ahead. He lifted the boom gate and I drove off.

It wasn’t a good moment but I am over it now.

 

Plant Dutch Irises or perish.

April 3, 2020

 

IMG_0574

Milo in self isolation

 

The news is so horrific, it begs one to forego listening to the media and instead I get up and wash hands again or open the fridge for inspiration. And that’s apart from living isolated, a law that forbids leaving the front door except for essentials or work, and a handwashing mania that is supposed to lower a peak of infections. Even lovers are supposed to stay a metre and half away but this hasn’t passed legislation/laws yet. At my age and in my own case, all I have to do is wash my hands.

We must all work towards flattening the curve. Hospital beds are at a premium. In Holland elderly people are now volunteering to give their place for a high emergency care (H I C) hospital bed to those that have a much better chance of survival and instead will be cared for at home…I know Holland sorry, The Netherlands,  is progressive but I am buggered if I would be so keen to volunteer.

The 30 days of staying at home has now been extended to 90 days and billions are being spent on welfare and helping the rising army of unemployed. All of a sudden our Prime Minister has mellowed towards social softness and kindness. He was even a bit teary last night! No more talk of ‘dole bludgers’, or single mothers ‘rorting the system’ by having conveyer belt babies, or demonising acid laced drug users unwilling to look for work. No more pep talks of boat people climbing over our dunes, taking our women and jobs. Illegal dark foreigners etc.

No, now it is all empathy and benevolence towards everyone. Renters can get rent relief and land lords are being threatened with severe punishment if they dare to kick out non-paying tenants.  Banks have been ordered to give at least six months grace to those that can’t pay their mortgage. Businesses that have closed are entitled to get hundreds of thousands of dollars to keep employing staff that have been made redundant and I believe the unemployed staff will get $1500 fortnightly to be able to pay their bills.

I am now so immune to all that gloom that I have taken to the only sensible thing to do, and that is to buy bulbs and plant them now while facing the coming winter. It is the only thing to do. I noticed Aldi is selling a variety of bulbs together with a bevy of different citrus trees. I went the whole hog and bought the Dutch Iris bulbs and two small trees, a lemon and a lime tree. I have planted them already at my other place. I drove through quiet streets, hoping I wouldn’t be stopped by police for being outside my home. The police have already given ticket to those disobeying the new laws. They are supposed to use discretion, but I believe an elderly gent caught with bulbs and small citrus trees inside his car would be spared a fine.

Still, we live in strange times. Who would have thought that even a few weeks ago that people would end up fighting over toilet paper in a super market? People now look tense and I get the feeling it would not take much to get a fight going. I am careful to keep a distance in the shopping aisle and wait obediently behind the strip of tape on the floor. I pay by card and once I paid, step quickly away from the cashier and go outside.

On the other hand, while walking with our dog, Milo, I have a good smile on my face and with my dentures in place, it seems to work like magic. Many, many people smile back. That gives me great pleasure and is encouraging for the future of this pandemic suffering world, don’t you think? A smile goes a long way when on your own and in isolation. I live off a smile almost all day. In the evening I start my glass of red wine and get on the ‘Facebook and ‘Messaging’ which is a Godsend.

I can’t wait to see my citrus trees bear fruit. It will be something to look forward to.

It all helps.

Love to you all,

Gerard

Herrings

January 7, 2020

IMG_0377 Herrings from Scandinavia

Please consider during these difficult times of  smoke and fire, brimstones and calamitous weather conditions, the eating of a simple herring. I know that lots of people’s lives have been upset and thrown about because of those raging fires and acrid smoke. Things are now quiet again and in some parts of Australia even a few drops of water have been recorded; time to repose and regain our momentum for the ongoing battle we might call ‘life’.

This is where the herring comes onto its own giving us the sustenance and tools to struggle on. Of course, coming from Holland I was practically brought up on a bicycle and fed daily herrings. My father told me when I was still very young (and during a stormy night) that I was born a week or two before my mother was due to eject me. It was, he told conspiratorially, that a fish bone stuck in my mother’s throat that brought on a coughing fit, et voila, there I was born of my mother’s gluttonous herring eating and I already screaming  for one myself. The doctor smacked my mother instead of me.

There are some interesting facts about herrings. Herrings generally spawn in shallows and coastal waters where they lay in levels on top of each other, millions of them. The female herring lays up to 70 000 eggs. So, herring experts inform us, which if it wasn’t for humans to catch and eat the herring and left to breed uninterrupted, they would within a short time and according to Buffon’s  calculations, produce a volume of fish twenty times the size of the earth. It would be easy to understand that that sort of volume would also mean the end of the herring mating and cavorting in the shallows. They would suffer their own demise by those tumultuous watery sexual congress without humans eating them.( post coitus)

Image result for The Dutch herring boats

Even so, in the past there have been such large shoals of herrings and so easily caught that entire fisheries were threatened by closure because of the sheer catastrophic glut of herrings. This is also why we should not forego eating herrings, especially now during stress and deep-seated gloom. A herring lightens the mood and give us the spring back in out steps. Try it, please.

The expert fishing trawlers and their skippers knew, born of legend and evening tavern talk, when the shoals of herrings were running.  They knew by the glow of their shimmering bodies and the fact they swim in strict wedge shaped formations with a pulsating glow skywards reflecting the sun falling at a certain angle. The fishermen, all peaked capped and storm coat wearing threw out their nets and lowered their sails.

Of course we don’t truly know what a herring feels. They communicate not like we do but no doubt been told that we eat them. Not a nice thing to contemplate when as young herring in puberty and growing, looking forward to an honest mating in the shallows of the Dogger Bank…only to be eaten afterwards!  When life has fled, the herring begins to glow and that’s also a reason why people buy them. They hold a fascination that other fish, like the mackerel or flat-head species don’t have.

Image result for The Dutch herring boats

Queuing for herrings in The Netherlands.

A pity that one cannot buy a fresh herring here in the southern hemisphere. The bottled or vacuum packet ones are  not the same but I intend to go to Holland (The Netherlands now, sorry)soon to catch up.

You just wait and see!

Some of this information came from ‘The rings of Saturn’ by W.G. Sebald.

 

The endearing kalanchoe.

August 2, 2019

IMG_0242 The kalanchoe

The woman engaged to work three hours fortnightly after Helvi broke her arms has been a good choice. She came again yesterday and we decided to leave her at her work. We noticed three weeks ago how she would silently glide hither and dither, cleaning the carpet squares after dusting the top of door-edges, pictures,  the white painted tables and moving about all those domestic bits and pieces that we have collected over the years. Some of the wall-hangings are crocheted cotton windmills with Dutch landscaped backgrounds which my mother left after her passing. I think how her fingers must have stayed nimble even in her latter years when in her nineties. She never was able to do nothing which for others comes fairly easy.

With the cleaning of the house taking about three hours we decided to visit Berkelouw’s Book barn not far from where we live and have a coffee.

Image result for Berkelouws Book barn

This book barn combines selling of both second hand and new books and a very popular place to visit with well over 100 acres of extensive gardens. You can get both married and have a funeral. It caters for overnight stays and has excellent restaurants, winery and everything else one could conjure up with sitting outside enjoying the country-side a special favourites of us.

Image result for bendooley estate

Here is the story of Berkelouw’s bookstores.

“Our History from 1812The story of Berkelouw Books begins in Kipstraat, Rotterdam, Holland, in 1812. Solomon Berkelouw traded in vellum-bound theology books which were en vogue in the early nineteenth century. Publishers of the period were certain of selling publications as long as they dealt with theology. Solomon peddled his wares on Rotterdam Quay and his clients were mainly owners and skippers of the barques that brought grain and other agricultural products from the provinces of Zealand and Zuid Holland to Rotterdam. The owners of barques were well to do citizens with a growing interest in education. Not much is known of Solomon Berkelouw except that his bookselling career came to a sudden and unfortunate end. On a late winter’s afternoon, with snow falling thickly all around, Solomon attempted to cross an icy plank that connected a customer’s ship to the wharf. Halfway up, he lost his footing and fell into the freezing water. Before anyone could fetch help he drowned, his jute-bag full of books sinking with him to the bottom of the icy harbour.

Solomon’s young son Carel was determined to carry on his father’s trade. He put the business on a more stable footing by opening a bookstore at the Niewe Market in Rotterdam. Under Carel’s direction Berkelouw Books prospered and he later moved to a larger premises at Beurs Station, also in Rotterdam.

Carel’s son Hartog Berkelouw continued to expand the family business. After serving an apprenticeship with his father in the Beurs Station store, he opened a new shop at Schoolstraat, Rotterdam. It was Hartog who first began issuing the catalogues that gained Berkelouw an international reputation. In 1928, the firm was granted membership to the prestigious International Antiquarian Booksellers Association. Business subsequently increased and Hartog’s children, Sientje, Leo, Carel and Isidoor, all became involved in the book trade. However, the Second World War intervened, introducing a dark chapter into the history of the Berkelouw family. During the siege of Rotterdam, Berkelouw Books’ premises were bombed and its entire stock destroyed. Amongst the lost books was a collection of antique bibles thought to be the most valuable in all of Europe. Further tragedy followed – Sientje and Carel became casualties of the war. As Leo had left the firm many years earlier, the once thriving business was brought to a standstill – the work of four generations of Rotterdam booksellers virtually wiped out in just a few years.

Immediately after the war, Isidoor Berkelouw began to re-establish the firm. He set up business in Amsterdam and began conducting successful book auctions. However, Isidoor was keen to move the business out of Europe. The Berkelouw collection had already been destroyed once and he did not want to see it happen again. In 1948 Isidoor liquidated his company and made the long journey to Australia. Shortly after arriving in Sydney, Isidoor issued a catalogue, generating immediate interest amongst book collectors around the country. He set up shop at 38 King St, Sydney and conducted book auctions on a regular basis. As Berkelouw’s clientele and stock expanded, headquarters was relocated to 114 King St and Isidoor began to share the management of the business with his two sons, Henry and Leo. By 1972 the Berkelouw collection had grown to such a size that it was forced to change premises once again. The firm made a brief move to Rushcutters Bay, then in 1977 took a quantum leap relocating entirely to ‘Bendooley’, an historic property just outside the beautiful village of Berrima in the Southern Highlands of NSW.

In 1994, the sixth generation, Paul, Robert and David Berkelouw, returned to Sydney, opening its now landmark store in Paddington. Five years later another Sydney store was opened in the cosmopolitan suburb of Leichhardt. Since then, Berkelouw Books has opened further stores in Sydney and Eumundi on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland. All our stores offer an extensive, interesting and eclectic new book selection covering all interest areas with a special interest in Children’s Books, fine stationery, as well as a hand-picked display of rare books. Our Paddington, Leichhardt and Eumundi stores have a vast selection of secondhand books. Adjoining many of our stores are the Berkelouw Cafes, a great place to relax and enjoy ambience.

Today Berkelouw Books is Australia’s largest rare and antiquarian, secondhand, and new bookseller. We have an overall stock in excess of 2 million books, many of which are listed and available for purchase here.

Thus the romance of books is engendered. Thus too, the association of books and Berkelouw continues. An old and fruitful tree of Rotterdam, Holland, now firmly planted in the soil of Australia.”

We had a coffee and the house smelt lovely and fresh. I took a picture of the kalanchoes from inside.

 

The Magnificent and Defiant Helvi.

July 10, 2019

Gerard & Helvi B&W

Helvi and Gerard at earlier times

So sorry for not having written about Helvi’s plight a bit earlier. No one would want to go through this ever. Helvi doesn’t want me to be negative but I am straining at the leash not to. Whatever have we done? She broke two arms falling over a raised driveway that should never have been approved by the local Shire/Council.  This all happened 0n the 26th of June which now seems years ago. Helvi was discharged last Friday after spending 9 nights at the local State Government Hospital. The service and care was done by caring staff who are doing their utmost to do the impossible. Too many patients and never enough staff. The room where Helvi stayed was full of add-on in the way of pipes, plumbing, air condition outlets for condensation, a hand basin on brackets sticking out, a gurgling waste system and buttons on the end of a lead that kept falling on the floor. But somehow the system kept miraculously kept on working. Helvi was on ‘full-care’ but it was not full, so I stayed with her from 7.30 am to 9pm when the hospital locked doors. I fed her and pushed the button for her toilet care and if that wasn’t forthcoming I would somehow cradle her and walk her to the nearest toilet.

Enfin; it is now past history but a new phase of misery started to arrive. After three nights and days at our home I noticed her left arm was oozing a smelly substance on her bedding which alarmed me, and Helvi to a lesser extend. I wasn’t so sanguine about her positivity that all would be OK. After all, she argued, it was all pinned together and bandaged by an orthopaedic surgeon with qualified staff. I took Helvi back to the ward where she was discharged from. However, ‘no go’, they told us. ‘You have to go back to casualty or emergency and get it fixed from there. We walked back to casualty, not an easy thing to do with two arms broken. There we were told the waiting time was 2/3 hours. So, decided to go to local doctor. The doctor confirmed the elbow was infected and prescribed ant-biotics but also told us he would not touch the oozing mess around her taped and bandaged elbow. This was now starting to look like something out of a Kafka’n nightmare.

I did not want to let this go for another night so back to the hospital casualty ward and put up with the queue. We sat there between 5.30 pm and at 8.45 pm when a kind nurse took us in and unpacked poor Helvi’s arm, cleaned it up, retaped and bandaged it up and promised she would send the swab to pathology for identification of the infection.

So, you can see what a time Helvi has had. Yet…she keeps on smiling but is furious with Australia. and its broken down public health systems. ‘It would not have happened in Finland,’ she said. I dare say, ‘neither in Holland’. A system whereby tax is given back to lure voters in a system that will perpetuate the cracking up of public welfare will only continue and get worse.

We are now employing a cleaner for three hours a week so that Helvi and I can get some kind of routine going for her needs to be met day and night. We are both knackered but at least I can use my hands. I am sure I have more time to help Helvi than those overworked, underpaid nurses at the local Hospital.

But…never again.

A matter of contrast.

May 28, 2019

IMG_0128 the daisy as bright.JPG

An Irish family who have lived and worked in Australia for over ten years now faces deportation because their 4 year old son has a disability which the government deems to be too much of a ‘burden.’ Unbelievable, and how does Australia keep getting away with these deplorable cruel acts? https://www.sbs.com.au/news/this-irish-family-is-facing-deportation-because-of-their-son-s-cystic-fibrosis

If it wasn’t for our retreat into our garden with daily sun and nightly stars we would have left this barren and morally depleted country years ago. To be honest it’s not the country’s fault really, and perhaps the idealisation of perceived better places elsewhere on this earth might be totally wrong. I happen to read up on Iceland and was astonished to read they have a law that prohibits women earning less than men. They also do not have an army and at one stage had a government with women only. They also jailed corrupt banking moguls. Those sort of facts about a country gladden the heart, don’t they?

In fact, we did leave many years ago and lived with our three children back in Holland for just over three years. That first summer was glorious with everlasting evenings. The sun did not go down till 10pm and woke us up at 5am. We bought bicycles for all of us and rode around without a worry with weeping willows bowing to the wind and in our faces. We made the move back to Australia because my family were living there and I was missing my brothers and sister. We also had Whitlam,  Bob Hawke and Paul Keating as Prime ministers who moved Australia into the twentieth century.

But, let me just look at the positive. A few days ago I happen to take the above photo. As I walked out of the door I noticed this isolated daisy having risen from the garden during the night. I took out my iPhone and took this picture. Isn’t it lovely? A shy golden nugget daisy nestling against the coarse bark of the Manchurian pear tree. They seem symbiotic. The softness and colour of the flower gives sustenance and beauty to the coarse barked tree which in return gives shelter and support to the daisy.  The flower is raising its head in gratitude to the tree and the trunk seems to answer with ‘no worries’, mate.

If you look carefully at the picture you might see a cane basket at the back of the flower. It was used as a laundry basket for decades but was past it’s use and started to break. Helvi put it in the garden and filled it with leaves and some soil. No doubt the basket will be reclaimed by the garden in time and more daisies will come up. It is a give and take, isn’t?

 

The Virginia Creeper will just have to sustain us now.

May 19, 2019

IMG_0099 Virginia creeper.JPG

Virginia creeper.

All our communal town-houses were originally planted with gardens which included the Virginia-Creeper shown in the above photo. This creeper grows very fast, mainly at night when everyone is sound asleep or if not sleeping, at least inside their dormitories. Originally, our townhouses had a united garden which included the Virginia Creeper. Sadly though, all Virginia creepers were taken out with the excuse that they are known to be destructive. A falsehood was spread that those fast growing climbers would by assaulting and climbing over everything, strangle brick walls and block our much revered and beloved guttering. We, against all advice and scorn of neighbours, held onto our Virginia for dear life, and even if it succeeds in strangling us and our town-house, so be it. It is amazing how gardening is so often seen as OK or mere tolerable as long as it doesn’t take over or threatens our own homes and ‘investment’ as one of our neighbours once uttered.

With last night’s defeat in Australia of the Labor Party to the Liberals against all odds, and the best of News Polls, and predictions, this contemplation of the Virginia-creeper might just have to sustain us for the near future. The near future is not to be taken in vain or too lightly. Perhaps a better phrase might be ‘our twilight years’ as both of us are nearing the eighties and for some things, time is becoming more of the essence. It would have been so nice to  have witnessed an Australia finally coming of an age where change for the better, would override the endless ennui of more of the same. How much longer can we look forward each morning to an Australia where Taxation cuts, Border Controls, sticking to contemplating the past, and Queen Victorian Gun boat diplomacy has to sustain us?

Just think how it now must feel to have for another three years a Scott Morrison as Prime Minister. A man who has on numerous occasions highlighted his belief in Christian faith but at the same time was almost manically keen on locking up for indefinite detention thousands of people who have done no wrong except for trying to escape from wars and bloodshed and look for a safe refuge in Australia. I wonder how those refugees on Manus and Nauru, now well into their sixth year of detention, are feeling today, hearing how their tormenter has been chosen as leader of Australia for another three years?

So much hope was invested in a change of leadership that would finally allow Australia to progress to a more just and fairer society. A society that would be leading in climate change and care for the environment. Today is a day where we celebrate the standing still of Australia. When will we ever learn, that change ought to be embraced even if change might at times fail? It is always better to have tried than not at all. Why is Australia often celebrating the fondness for looking back and clinging to the past? My parents who came here from Holland in 1956 would not be proud today of Australia. They wanted a better future for their children. My wife,  from a very progressive Finland and I with Dutch genes, are almost tempted to book a return to Holland.

We don’t have to look at Holland or Finland for examples of progressive countries. Just look a bit to the side and look to New Zealand. They have a leader that seems to thrive on progress, especially on a social level. Why don’t we look to our Eastern neighbours instead of our much beloved Western US, a nation that is being headed by a morally bereft President man heading his country knee-deep in a moral morass?

It has been New Zealand who offered  several times to take the refugees from Nauru and Manus. Our Australian Prime Minister with his Christian Faith held high on Pharisees  sullied sleeve, heartlessly refused each time. We will just go outside and look at our Virginia creeper. It will have to sustain us till the next time!

My poor country, Australia.

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.

 

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.