Posts Tagged ‘Mittagong’

The RSL, Bowling, and the gutters now get vacuumed.

July 13, 2018

IMG_0067the Manchurian tree

Manchurian Pear tree in front of our house (six weeks ago)

I love mid-winter. It gets cold here but the gardens are so quiet. No noises from lawnmowers, whipper-snippers, the edgers, leaf blowers, hedge trimmers, chain-saws. At no stage in world’s history has gardening become so noisy.  It reaches its zenith in mid-summer. I don’t like gardening noises. I get snappy and unfriendly. Milo too hates the noise. His ears hang down and looks frightened. Winters are for recovering from all that machinery. All machinery is hibernating and owners fiddle listlessly around the Television or, at best might tidy up the shed or do some vacuuming.

Together with my dislike for garden noises, I also hate the colour purple. Do I look like someone who likes purple? I just mention this as my Moss-vale Returned Soldiers Leagues/services bowling Club brought in purple bowling shirts. It was decided to give more credence to the sport of bowling by having members wearing shirts identifying the club and bowling. To see a group of elderly prancing about in short sleeved shirts is risqué but in bright purple it becomes circus clownery. I was asked about the purple colour before the choice was made. It was asked with such enthusiasm for the colour, I shrivelled up and acceded with the majority. I am not that brave in opposing. I only joined a year ago!

I am shirted in purple every Wednesday now. That’s when the Moss -vale club gets together. My long skinny arms don’t do anything at the best of times but in a short sleeved purple shirt I look ready for a long stint in a rehabilitation unit behind a high fence. I read on the label they are made in Bangladesh and are made of 100% acrylic. I paid an extra $10 to get a pocket stitched on it. I thought it might draw attention away from the rest of my body. I never though that in retirement and having a choice I would end up wearing purple shimmeringly shiny shirt. It also makes me sweat and smell after just a couple of bowling games.

It is different at the Mittagong Returned Soldier League Club. They wear a  green coloured shirt. It is made of 50% cotton and acrylic. It looks better. I don’t object to wearing it. I don’t understand to have two different coloured shirts. It has nothing to do with Returned Soldiers or the clubs. We are too old for two different uniforms even if it is just a shirt.

During the last AGM of our Townhouse compound, someone brought up that the gutters had not been cleaned. It is the same each year. Some have an obsession about gutter cleaning. Most trees have now been cut and any surviving leaves get annihilated by leaf-blowers. Not many end up in our gutters. And if they do, so what? Councils and many inhabitants of rural towns cut down the native trees years ago, in order to name streets after the trees they cut.

Anyway, the chairperson of our housing compound organised for the gutters to be cleaned. Within a week a huge truck appeared with a large pump. A very large stomached man clambered over the roofs and manipulated a large suction hose along the gutters. It was supposed to vacuum all the gutters clean. Looking around now. Many a truck now have signs advertising their prowess in vacuuming gutters and roofs. The world has come a long way.

And next Wednesday I will be wearing a purple acrylic bowling shirt with a stitched on pocket.

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A horse of clay

May 1, 2018

IMG_0047a horse

A Horse of clay

It was maintenance day yesterday at the Campbelltown Radiation clinic. We had a day off. The equipment needed to be checked, oiled, greased or whatever. Most of the equipment has ‘Philips’ on the name tags. It makes me so proud. The radiation has to be focussed with pin point accuracy. I see patients with head shields going in, or neck screens.

Today was normal and all equipment in good order. After arriving I checked the bookshelves. Bingo! My book had been taken again. I had a replacement ready. I quickly flicked it on the shelf. At one stage the man with prostate cancer got up and perused the books. He did not take mine, even though I had put it in the most prominent position.  He was hovering his hand over my book. I nearly told him to take it, but desisted.  Can’t wait to see if that has been taken tomorrow. Its title is ‘Oosterman Treats.’ I am so excited.

On the drive home at about 3PM we visited the sushi take away at the big shopping centre at Mittagong. We both always go for the ‘Binto special’. They are most generous with the little soya and wasabi sachets. I love squirting the wasabi on the lid of the box that the rice, salmon and sea-weed wrapped food comes in. We watch the people go by. There is a weight problem in Mittagong and they seem to congregate at shopping malls. If only they could resist KFC and the 2 litre Coke and go for the Sushi and plain water.

Sometimes we get the urge to go and look at second hand stuff at the Salvos in Bowral. It is a giant Salvos. A good thing is they don’t insist on converting me. It would be a waste of time.  I like religions who leave people in peace. I had to tell the two ‘sisters’ who live at our complex that I am not going to the Mormon cottage meetings but that I do like the choc-chip cookies that they keep making. One of the girls is from US Texas, the other from NZ. They are so nice and even gave us a little impromptu guitar and singing concert on the pavement in front of their place.

At the Salvos, Helvi wanted to try and buy a narrow set of shelves to put our potatoes and other vegies in underneath the stairs. It has a third toilet. The builder must have had a thing about toilets. I can cope with two, but three? Perhaps he suffered bowel problems. We both noticed a clay horse outside the Salvo shop. It spoke to us. It was only $ 10.-. I took the horse under my arms and went inside to pay for it. What a find. It is beautiful even without its tail and ears.

Helvi went on to look for the shelving and shoes. She likes nothing better than to find a $ 500.- pair of Italian shoes for just $20.-. I went straight for a comfortable chair to sink in with the horse on my lap. I immediately fell asleep. I was tapped on my shoulder. A middle aged woman looked me in the face. ‘Would you like a glass of water?’ I am always pleased when somebody talks to me. There is not enough contact between people. I told her I wasn’t thirsty and explained my wife was looking at shoes. She smiled. I think she understood. Women sometimes have common grounds and shoes might be one of them.

Afterwards I wondered why she thought I might like a drink of water. Was she testing me? Did she think I had passed away with that horse in my lap? It does happen. The horse was a fantastic find. Isn’t it beautiful? Helvi last night made a tail from rope which she plucked out. I will try and get some clay to make ears and bake it into the oven after which they will be glued onto its head.  It is now standing proudly near our front door outside. Milo was a bit suspicious.

I think this horse is beautiful.

 

 

The round-trip to the clinic.

April 24, 2018
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Table setting. Hand coloured etching.

 

Today we drove for the 7th time to a special clinic for radiation. There and back is around 140KM. We drive at around 100km an hour. The car has speed control. However, the use of it gives my foot a cramp. I prefer to keep working the pedal. There is also something frightening of a car going on its own volution. I am not sure about sitting in a self-drive vehicle. In any case we will be driving for many days yet, with a total of 25-35 radiation treatments.

The clinic itself is a jolly experience. This is surprising. Most or all of the patients have some kind of cancer. Perhaps the fear of getting cancer has at least been relieved by the certainty of the patients’ diagnoses. There is no more doubt. Still, jolliness and having cancer seems an oxymoron. The clinic has two waiting rooms. One has a TV which is always on, droning on a commercial channel most of the time.  The inane dribble on channel 7 by incessantly smirking presenters will do no good to any patient, not even those that are jolly and in remission. I change it over to the National Broadcaster’s news, ABC, channel 24. This gives News. Even there, the announcers seem to be laughing all the time too. I wonder what do they suffer from? Is the news from the Trump’s US or Syria so hilarious? Perhaps the TV bosses tell the announcers to be cheerful despite the carnage shown.  It surprises me that no one protests when I change the channel. Mind you, no one watches it much. They prefer to talk.

The other waiting room is a better place. They have bookshelves with many books to either read while waiting or take home in exchange for books patients might like to swap with. In any case, both rooms have patients waiting for treatment. Most have a specific given time and as the treatment only lasts a few minutes, many are in and out quickly. The undressing and re-dressing takes more time. The atmosphere is of geniality. I suppose there is a solid common bond. They all have cancer. The radiation perhaps also aids with a kind of warming glow. Shared problems together is a great binder and the laughter in the waiting rooms reflects this very well. Each time we leave the clinic we are both in great spirits.

Maarten is one of the patients whose time of treatment coincides of that of Helvi. He is Dutch born and 82 years old. He arrived here with his parents in 1953. I did in 1956. His Dutch language is still fluent and so is his brain. His parents settled in Wollongong with his father building a house there. He told me he created a Dutch choir in Wollongong which is still ongoing. Maarten also plays a recorder  and when well enough attends courses run by U3A. http://sohiu3a.org.au/   I think he likes classical music. I will ask him next time.  I am a sucker for classical music.

We meet each day at the clinic together with many others. Many arrive by Community buses with carers. Some are in wheel-chairs. We met a couple. The wife gets her nose radiated. She suffers a melanoma and hopes the treatment will prevent losing her nose. Perhaps in total, we spend at the most 45 minutes at this clinic.  We drive home and sometimes take a lunch at the Sushi take away in Mittagong or the Thai place back home in Bowral.  The daily trip means we have to put travel on hold. But, the experience each day at the clinic is a good compromise. Perhaps not a holiday but a good unexpected bonus of joy with strong people on the edge. The snippets of social exchanges between other patients is very exhilarating.

We  like the daily visits.

He was as fit as a fiddle.

July 27, 2017
IMG_0659flowering garden

Just glorious.

‘As fit as a fiddle’ is often said by those who are missing the passing of a good friend. With the joining of indoor bowling, it seems likely that the dropping off by friends will not be all that rare. Of course, with just having played twice, this claim of ‘friends’ is still a bit premature. Still, in between, and even during bowling, I struck up conversations. The game started at 10 am at the Moss-Vale Returned Soldiers League and as I had to join the club first, I arrived at 9.45.

The club was still closed. There are still strict rules to opening clubs. I think it might be that alcohol can’t be sold before 10 am. Cafés can open up and so can supermarkets or petrol stations but not clubs. So, I stayed in my car listening to the radio till exactly 10am after which I was allowed in.

The joining of clubs now involves getting a plastic card with your face photographed and printed on this card. This is the id used each time you enter the club. Non-members can still enter clubs as well, provided they show an id with some corroborating evidence such as a driver’s license or passport, health card or pensioner card. This procedure is rigidly adhered to which I never quite understood. It is on that same rather quaint level at Aldi, selling alcoholic drinks at an approved designated cash register but not at a similar looking register in the next isle, apparently not approved. At least with buying a bottle of wine at Aldi’s you don’t need to show an id.

The age of those that engage in indoor bowling in my group is roughly between sixty and perhaps the nineties.  This is in reference to my opening line of; he/she ‘was as fit as a fiddle.’. This could well be said at times, as the file of relatives and grieving friends passes the black hearse at the United Anglican Church here in Bowral.  We could be saying goodbye to Bert or Muriel who died unexpectedly at 86 years of age. A  life-long member of the Indoor Bowling Club.

“He was one of the best, and bowled like a champion.”  “He even anticipated the slight canter of the floor when bowling”. “It will be the last we shall see of his kind ever again bowling at the Bowling floor at Mittagong RSL.”  And with that, a few tears would be hastened on its way.

The Indoor Bowling is my sort of sport. Both sexes are playing together and even though the winning teams are displayed on a board, not many seem to look at that. It is somewhat of an afterthought. When people feel isolated,  sociologists reckon that loneliness is the worst amongst the elderly. The Indoor Bowling sport seems to tick most requirements to solve this aching isolation. Some of the people I played with might well have lost partners. It is inescapable that that will happens. Good luck to those that go at the same time, but it is unlikely.

The Indoor Bowling sport gives excellent opportunity to find friendship, engage in physical activity with social intercourse perhaps the glue that binds people together with being the most important part. I can recommend anyone to join indoor bowling. Of course, eventually someone too in the future, might well say those very same words about any of us; “he was as fit as a fiddle, a bloody good sport.”

The Author is going indoor bowling.

July 24, 2017
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Our kitchen of ‘give and take’

While sitting in front of the computer dispensing words of comfort if not wisdom, can be very fulfilling, there needs to be interaction with people in the flesh as well. We are not all islands on one’s own although with age, one gets the sneaking impression it might not be all that bad. Just reading this morning that my car is fitted with faulty airbags. In America a man was found dead in his car with his face so badly lacerated, police thought he had been shot at close range. It was a faulty airbag!

Of all the things that death might come to visit me one day, to have had life finished by a faulty airbag is about as futile and ineffectual as it can get. One can just imagine the grandchildren going through the Oosterman’s heritage finding out Grandpa died by an exploding airbag. A cunning one could well add, ‘he always was.’

It was with the insightfulness of not having enough real-life people around that I felt something should be done to meet more people.  H. said on a few occasions ‘You are cranky lately, and not easy to live with’, followed by  ‘you used to make me laugh.’ This last one bit me. I knew it was serious.

Some time ago I joined the local Labor Party, but it was held in one of those musty Halls of Women’s Christian Fellowship. The moment one stepped in, the wafting of aged doilies and stale biscuits, forlorn plastic bouquets fading in forgotten corners, Christian dust to dust photos and so much more would greet one inconsolably.  On top of it all are my hearing impairments, making the whispered minutes of the last meeting inaudible. I went twice and with all the support of keeping the refugees locked up by Labor as well, I quit and joined the Greens. It still did not really result in more people contact. It was too sporadic.

Of course, the daily walk with Milo often brought bystanders to stop and ask if they could pat him. Only last week, a man stopped who was wearing very thick gloves. I noticed them and thought it a good opportunity to talk about gloves; where are they from, what are they made off, where did you buy them? I wrought the conversation out as long as possible and went home wiser about gloves. I even bought a pair.

It was in the afterthought of H’s remark of getting about more, that I took the decision to join something of a more physical nature. In my foolish youth, so many decades ago, I was always amused to walk past the East-Balmain outdoor bowling club. The ridiculously white uniformed Bowlers, all bending over to bowl, showing bulging bums and possible medical devices compensating amputations or irritating bowel syndromes.

The sport seemed to attract the retirees who on a Sunday could combine all this bending over sport with a couple of beers with ham and cheese wedged-sandwiches ( no crusts). Later on, those sandwiches as a result of Slavic incursions could well contain garlic and gherkins. I even remember stalking past seeing platters of olives doing the rounds.  I swore never ever to reach an impasse in my life that involved becoming a member of this white uniformed bending over bowling fraternity.

And yet, it has come about, dear readers. I joined the Mittagong RSL and this Wednesday join the Moss-Vale RSL ( Returned Soldiers League)indoor bowling club. I have reached the age of Bending Down (or over) to Bowl. I loved my first bowling day yesterday and even took to the cubed sandwiches. Ham and cheese. It was all a rather casual affair. Vaughan, a wiry haired gentleman, explained to me the basics of the game. It included that the balls that one bowls with are weight-biased. Anything biased takes my attention. I took to it like a duck to water. I love how the game includes the bending over and how this bias can be used to advantage in order to get to the aimed destination. It is surprisingly skilful AND both sexes play together. Banter is the norm. No uniforms or protocols. Being mainly elderly players, there is no fuss.  Nice people.

I have reached the age of Bowling.

 

 

The deep fried squid was a bit fishy

September 29, 2016

41yjSAQeq1L__SX331_BO1,204,203,200_ oosterman treats

We had promised to try again a restaurant in Mittagong. Mittagong is next door to Bowral and has that Australian old town feeling. A couple of pubs with original fronts together with few mansions still indicating a former glory. Apart from that, our dog JRTerrier Milo has a bitter enemy but behind the safety of a solid glass shop front, inside which electrical globes and lights are sold. The dog behind the glass is menacingly black and huge. A large and formidable Labrador-German Shepherd mix. Milo is pulling maniacally in order to get as quickly as possible to the shop, ready for a blood curdling killing. Each time we visit Mittagong with Milo it follows the same ferocious procedure.

As he pulls us on his lead towards the shop with the monster dog you can sense the tension in Milo. He crawls flat tack hugging the street’s shop fronts till we arrive at the front-line of Milo’s enemy. He wants the attack to be a total surprise. Milo’s feet are scratching the footpath. He is so keen. The huge dog is peacefully unaware of what is to come and asleep behind the entrance when Milo arrives. Instantly all hell breaks loose. Pedestrians scatter into the kerbs. There follows about five seconds of a terrifying ferocious snarling. Teeth are bared and clatter against the glass. Hairs are upright. I am afraid the glass door will shatter. I drag Milo past the door and all is back to normal. The frightened pedestrians might say; ‘my goodness,’ resume their walk. Milo had his fun.

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Milo contemplating biting a bit.

 

But, as we had a nice meal in that restaurant before we thought to give it another go. It is an unlicensed place and perhaps café might be a better description. It is unpretentious and no one greets you effusively or shows you a place to sit. There is a mishmash of different seating arrangements, including soft chairs but also hard benches with long tables. You can fill your glasses with water from a large bubbler on a table with selections of all sorts mustards and sauces. It serves food on ceramic plates. I think serving food on wooden boards might be on the way out. I am not sure about the Himalayan salt shakers. This world and its fashions is now so fast and becoming more and more incomprehensible. It is not surprising so many elderly people withdraw and retire on park benches having a private little sob before bravely continuing on.

I ordered the same dish. Deep fried squid on an Asian salad. Helvi had trouble choosing. The café prides itself on serving alpaca-meat dishes. The friendly waitress suggested to Helvi to try it. Helvi told her as an anecdote that we used to breed alpacas. ‘It would be like eating our own babies’ Helvi answered with her glorious smile. The waitress laughed and understood. I suggested to try a beef steak dish with chips and salad. But, as so often happens. New people were running it and the food wasn’t as good as expected. My squid smelled a bit fishy on arrival. The deep frying did not deter the squid from telling me it was well past its prime, and much to its credit gave me a fair warning. My hunger, as usual, wasn’t brave enough to leave the squid well alone.

Helvi’s steak was also not the best. A little sinewy and a bit teeth defying. The chips were fair and she shared them with me. That was nice. The salad was a bit mushy. The lingering on its own behind the counter for a couple of days did not enhance or make it any more Asian.
Anyway, we all had a good time. Milo greeted us with his usual welcoming wagging tail. I reckon his fight with the black dog always cheers him up.

He loves going to Mittagong.

https://www.amazon.com/Oosterman-Treats-Philosophical-Musings-vasectomy/dp/099458105X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1470095148&sr=8-1&keywords=oosterman+treats

The vertical Food Phenomenon

December 13, 2012

depositphotos_3298753-Delicious-salmon-on-plate-decorated-with-salad-cheese-and-seafooThe vertical Food Phenomenom.

Santa has come early at the hardware-trade, at least here in Mittagong. Driving back late from Sydney, a large solar driven multi coloured sign heralded that ‘face painting’ would be a daily event at Bunnings together with ‘cooking lessons’. You would have to give it to them. Such entrepreneurial spirits flashing every few seconds. Who would have thought hardware shops would give cooking lessons? It is not as if cooking food has been put on the backburner, and people are just eating cold cabbage with tripe.

You only have to turn on the TV, morning or night, to hear and see someone holding up some latest morsel, glistening with juices and with contrasting colours. The cook or taster pronouncing…’oh, yum’ with ‘oh…wow’ second and a somewhat lamer third coming in at ‘how nice’.

I have yet to hear oh… how fucking awful, or even oh yuck, while heaving and retching! Surely, sometimes the result is not up to scratch and the viewer would be so much happier, if, just sometimes, the culinary result was less than planned like the viewers own efforts in the caesarstone kitchen with the multi story oven.

Just consider how on TV cooking is often done under the most harrowing conditions.  Last week on TV a dish was cooked in the middle of a raging Mekong river on a rickety boat and with just one small hardly flickering little flame in the middle of a torrential monsoonal downpour… Yet, the result was stunning and again it was held up as a trophy of cooking art regardless or perhaps because of those dire adversarial circumstances.

The viewer could not but become deeply depressed with their own miserable result of a limp pale yellow poached egg staring at them on a piece of toast which was only just made edible by scraping the charcoal off. No, “oh yum”. Not even a single “how nice’.”

How disconcerting it is for us, salivating viewers, to then, often within the same hour, advertisements are shown urging us to give generously to World Vision. The tearstained mother holding up a dying baby, children reduced to eating crispy insects to just stay alive another day. It would be so much better and more sensitive if those ads were shown during that Ancestry.com ‘where do you come from’ programs, together with funeral insurances enticements. How glorious that elderly couple beam at us. They are so happy with their funeral ‘plan’ while their well fed grand-daughter stares out from the top of a bridge over the expanse of a lovely flowing river. Her life is just starting but ours might need a coffin ‘plan;’ but look, we are still living it up to the hilt! But… we don’t want to burden anyone with our funeral. Geez, what would our kids do without us having a plan; bury us in the back-yard?

The cooking program also often shows us food precariously stacked upwards, like a block of home units. Why does it have to be vertical? Are we running out of space? Is this what overpopulation has caused? Or is it because the top layer is closer to our mouth? Everything has to be so effortless lately; perhaps lifting the spoon up is now being investigated by the cooking moguls.

Easy does it. It is the same with the modern cloth line. All clothes have to be taken off the line with one magic swoop. Rrrrt it goes and the washing line is empty ready for the next run.  Very tempting this is, with time so short and busy mothers and (some fathers) driving kids to schools, ballet, and flute and sax lessons. It all has to be so very Rrrrrt now and in split second timing.

Anyway, Bunnings has weighed in with also giving cooking lessons, competing with the outside Barbeque sausage sandwich stall run by the Lions Club. Perhaps it is to entice the sale of outdoor kitchens. Has anyone seen the latest of those? Enormous outdoor stainless steel kitchens costing as much as houses, are now up for sale. They include water taps, rotisserie, and fridge with ice making and fish scaling capability, a fiery turbo driven stone lined pizza oven and ample storage to hold the suckling pig.

I am still getting over assembling a modest two burner affair some years ago. Boy, did it have many nuts and bolts with matching Allen key. It took me 12 hours and had to turn the whole contraption upside down to retrieve a single nut that had fallen in a steep crevice behind one of the burners. Finally a team of mental health experts overseen by a crack psychiatrist were called in to counsel me while I was finishing the job.

It seems that eating is now a disorder for more than a million Australians. Binge eating and binge starving is now all the go. We just don’t seem to be able to get our eating habits right. Yet, it used to be so simple.

We ate to survive.