Posts Tagged ‘Moss Vale’

The Tent.

February 8, 2019
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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.

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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.

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.

 

 

A senior’s joy with NZ Maori Nurse. Sex over five or 6/5!

June 27, 2016

 

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As foreshadowed last week, the eye test for keeping my driver’s license was today at 2 pm. I took a shower and quickly ate some smoked salmon on wholemeal sandwiches. We went shopping with the obligatory Milo walk before the appointment at the medical centre. Helvi is not so keen on smoked salmon, or anything smoked really. It came to a head, when still living in Holland, and I took a bunch of smoked baby-eels to bed for snacking, while watching Sargent Bilko, or perhaps it was ‘I love Lucy.’

Those shows would be impossible to watch now. Humour has shifted up a couple of gears since then, and now seems so much more cynical, more trying to get laughter out of the misery of others. Mind you, perhaps most humour is based on the misfortunes of others. I mean slipping over a banana skin could be painful.

At 1.30 pm Helvi asked me if I would like her to come too. I certainly would. She took a newspaper and her puzzle book and we both drove to Moss-Vale where my medical centre resides. During the trip Helvi thought it was hot in the car. I said ‘feel free to turn down the heater.’ It is one of those marital routines whereby the same issues are being played  knowing full well the results. Helvi never touches any knobs or switches in the car. She pretends not even knowing the difference between the brake or the steering wheel. She gave up driving many years ago. She prefers reading or talking. I don’t mind that but sometimes wish she would not ask for a four letter word starting with F when I am driving precariously wedged in between two road trains.

I was a bit concerned but had practised in front of the mirror holding my hand alternatively in front of both eyes. It is a very old mirror with gold leaf ornate frame. This ornate framed piece held a bevelled mirror in Holland yet a plain glass mirror after shipped over to Australia by boat. We were dudded by the removalist who must have broken the bevelled mirror and replaced it with a plain sheet of mirror-glass. We did not notice till some time after.

After arrival, I was to wait for the Nurse to do the eye-test after which Dr Sparks would do the rest and test other abilities to keep driving. Mainly a matter for dizzy-spells ,fainting, suicidal thoughts or preferences, alcoholism, sleeping disorders with last of all, any marital whiplash.

They must have phoned up Nurse. I noticed a tall woman walking in soon after. She was nicely dressed in a long woollen skirt and blue loose fitting jacket with a hoodie. Within a minute she came out of her office and called for Gerard. I duly got up swiftly, even jauntily, and walked in after her, noticing she was shapely with dark her. She had taken her jacket off which I noticed hanging over her chair. She gave me a lovely smile and told me to move the chair a bit closer to the eye chart. ‘We just going to do your eyes’, she said, smiling again. The way she pronounced ‘eyes’ told me she was New Zealander and Maori.

I really liked her and she kept reassuring me. Even without the uniform, she was an eye test’s dream come true. I lost all my resolve to cheat and spy through my hands. It felt like a betrayal. I was wearing glasses. My driver’s license show a photo without wearing them. She kindly asked me if I wore them while driving. I answered that I normally don’t. They are bi-vocals and seem to distort vison. Well, she said; ‘we will do them with and without glasses’. ‘Whatever comes out the better of the two, we shall use.’ She was so lovely. The perfect nurse. She made it sound like a nurse handing out a bed-pan with the élan of a barista serving a black coffee with a croissant. I could not have been luckier.

It must have given me a rush of blood to my head, especially my eyes, and they went straight into top-gear. A kind of tumescence but for sight instead of sex.

My right (crook) eye was given 6/12 and my left ( the good eye) 6/5. Both eyes WITHOUT glasses 6/5. She said, ‘sex over five. You have done well Gerard.’

The Meeting at 8pm

May 13, 2014

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It was to start at 8pm, Monday the 12th of May. It was the beginning of a frosty night when I parked my car at the front of the CWA building opposite the police station here in Moss Vale. I noticed a few men entering and I knew I would not just be the sole person to turn up. It took me back many years when I used to be a member of the ALP, back in the time of Whitlam and his sacking. “Maintain your rage” we were advised. Some of us did.

I decided to re-join, even if just for the camaraderie or commoraderie as it was more known for in those earlier years of brawls and fisticuffs. It was during the late seventies, early eighties. I remember a fire extinguisher being hurled out of the Balmain town-hall where a meeting was being held. A burly man in the back of the queue during a joining of new members shouted “make way for a pregnant woman”, while shoving people around. “You’re not fucking pregnant,” someone shouted, before all hell broke loose and the mentioned fire extinguisher thrown through the window, lights switched off and the books were stolen. That was the time when the factions between left and right wings were coming to a head.

Last night I was warmly welcomed by a few including an old ALP warrior and fighter from way back, Rodney Cavalier who now lives in Bowral.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rodney_Cavalier

I felt back home again with usual time taken up by the necessary rituals of all meetings, the passing of last meeting’s minutes, correspondence and the passing of motions. I was pleased to a positive sign emerging when a motion was passed, unanimously by the Moss Vale branch in favour of Australia being urged to also accept Palestine’s seat to the UN as an observer state. (Australia abstained from the voting in favour of Palestine even though 138 countries approved.)

The meeting closed at 10pm and there was tea, coffee and biscuits afterwards. A good meeting.

I drove home while the outside temperature was 4c. Helvi was there, nice and warm, watching the tail-end of Q&A. Milo jumped up as well.