Posts Tagged ‘Queen’

In a blaze of Patriotic fervour.

June 14, 2017

 

 

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Our arrival in Australia 1956

 

You would have to feel sorry for our Prime Minister. Ever since he took over from the previous PM, Tony Abbott, because of an endless row of negative Polls, Malcolm Turnbull’s popularity is worse, obstinately stuck in the same drift sands of his predecessor. No matter what the policy, or how he twists and turns, it all turns to an uninspiring porridge of lukewarm indecisions. The light is slowly being turned off.

His latest attempt to pull his Government out of the never never of political defeat, he  turned once again to his voters assuaging the idea that we need all to become far more “patriotic’, far more ‘Real Australian.’ In this endeavour he is clearly appealing to the largest denominator, grabbing some good old fashioned Aussie values. The values that stood the test of time. Bradman Cricket, Phar Lap, the Mother tongue of English language, the spirit of Anzacs and standing up for flag and National Anthem. Oi, oi oi, Aussie, and all that stuff.

There is now feeling of desperation seeping in. With latest poll showing our Turnbull to be seven point behind the opposition, he wants to take the wind out of his adversary, Tony Abbott’s sails with a good old fashioned appeal to ” True Australian Values.” and sharpening this by making the rules of obtaining citizenship harder.  Migrants will need to wait for a number of years and have a good grasp of English together with doing a test on a suitable understanding and uncritical acceptance of all things “Australian,” before they can apply for citizenship.

It will also make a handy appeal to the One Nation Party of Pauline Hanson and possibly filch voters away. I feel this latest from Turnbull is racially tinged, and aimed at making migrants feel inadequate or less than equal by hinting that Australian values are somehow so much better and, that any feelings by migrants of their homeland’s cultural values ought better be left behind.  We need you to totally fall in line with us, or go home, is what our PM. Turnbull seems to be saying.

When we arrived none of us spoke much English, and it took a while to realise that English was even spoken in Australia. It took persistence to accept the foreign slang as actual English. It wasn’t all that rare even then, that in public, migrants were told to speak English only. My father was told in the bus once to stop talking in yabba, yabba, yabba (Dutch) and  speak bloody English. My parents never lost the love of their home-country. How could anyone even loose it? They always felt that Holland was their home-country but they also accepted Australia as their new home. It takes time. When my father retired they decided to go back home. Why not? Don’t many Australians make England their new home or Holland, the US? Over a million Australians live permanently overseas.

The appeal to becoming Patriotic is just silly and will make Australia look even less tolerant. One wonders what the loyalties of the only real original Australians , the aboriginals, ought to be pitched at, their killer overlords?

How we still cling to those Anglo ideas of the past, loyalty to a foreign Queen, despite most of us now having been born elsewhere. Why are we still a monarchy?  What is it about the ‘value of fear’ that we so love? What about encouraging change, move forward? Future Australians are now coming from everywhere, including The Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia. They too, in time will also become ‘real Australians’ and add to this wonderful mixture of all that we call home, Australia. I can’t wait for their national dishes to appear in our Cafes and restaurants. Do people still eat that soapy Kraft Cheddar embedded in silver foil, or Tasty cheese, Heinz tinned spaghetti?

How much better if our Prime Minister had used the opportunity for ‘tolerance, acceptance, and greater empathy towards others, instead of this silly national pitch for drum banging and ‘patriotism’.

 

Potato baked in foil is the only way forward

March 27, 2017

photochevati sausages

We all know we have to keep going. One way is to keep things simple. It is amazing how quickly things can turn complicated. Sometimes we get churned up and on reflection are amazed how we reacted so badly despite having arrived at an age whereby wisdom is supposed to be our domain. We all plod along the best we are capable of. One way forward in giving respite to anxiety and relief from life’s foibles is through the potato baked in foil. It is not just by accident that the word foible includes foil.

For some weeks now this family has come to realize that what has been dormant for many years in our kitchen drawer, the roll of aluminium foil, is now finally being used to its full potential. It was staring us in the face all the time. This last sentence doesn’t seem to follow the rule of logic. Following rules have never featured very strongly, let alone logic..

There is no getting away from the fact that we have to sustain ourselves. Food is just one item of that sustainability. We have discovered that through the week we eat fish at least twice a week.  After having tried different fishes, it is the salmon cutlets that have won out. We get 4 cutlets each week. They cost about $14.- The salmon cutlets are spread out over 2 days but not consequently. We might have a pasta or a risotto in between, just for variety.

The potato in foil is now so much part of our dietary habit that I felt it my duty to inform you why we feel so strongly about this ‘potato in foil’ discovery. It is delicious and dirt cheap. Let me give you the low-downs on it and it is free. I cut two or three potatoes in quarters or even smaller. This depends on the size of the potato. The bigger the potato the more you cut it. I prefer the Dutch Cream potato, even though I became an Australian some years ago at the Sydney Town-Hall. I had a choice of doing the oath of allegiance on the bible or in the name of the English Queen. I thought it an odd choice but the biscuit and cup of tea afterwards, prepared by the Salvos, repaired my suspicions and anxiety somewhat.( but not totally, even till this day)

I don’t peel the potato but that choice is yours. After having cut the potatoes, I drizzle them with olive oil and sprinkle some pepper, salt and oregano on them. I wrap the potatoes into 2 packages of aluminium foil and leave them for an hour or so. At about an hour and half before eating, I light the outside gas barbeque, put it on low, and put on the  wrapped potatoes. A red capsicum is cut in half and I follow the same procedure by adding some olive oil, pepper, garlic and herbs of choice. This is added to the top of the barbeque plate about 3/4 hour before eating. NO foil around the red capsicum!

In the last ten minutes before eating, the salmon cutlets are fried,. 7 minutes one side with skin crisp and brown, turned around for another few minutes on the other side. All that is left now is to unwrap the potatoes add them on 2 plates with the char-grilled capsicum, salmon cutlets and just eat it all. Slowly does it. It really is a simple dish, nutritious and healthy and with such little effort.

It is the only way forward.

 

 

Oranje Boven. (onder) The King and Queen of House of Orange.

November 1, 2016

 

http://www.perthnow.com.au/news/western-australia/dutch-royals-in-wa-to-mark-400th-anniversary-of-dirk-hartog-landing/news-story/3fa8e7f27793551c915088fcc8b0f8c4

“King Willem-Alexander — the second youngest monarch in Europe at 49 — and his 45-year-old fashionista wife, a former investment banker who hails from Argentina, soaked up the sun and spent time greeting their adoring fans, many who were dressed in orange and came waving Australian and Dutch flags.

Queen Maxima, a United Nations special advocate for financial development who is renowned for her chic fashion sense, looked resplendent in a unique beige and green dress by Dutch designer Mattijs van Bergen, matching headpiece, gloves and metallic slingback stilettos.

The royal couple are in Perth as part of a two-day visit, which includes experiencing Melbourne Cup Day at Ascot on Tuesday. The King’s last visit to WA was nearly 20 years ago before he was married.

Strolling along the Fremantle harbour, the couple was given a brief local history lesson by Fremantle historian Mike Lefroy before being officially welcomed by Premier Colin Barnett and his wife, Lyn”.

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The tuna dish.

September 24, 2015
wives waiting for their men at Scheveningen

wives waiting for their men at Scheveningen

We all know that fish is good. As we get older and start to stumble with memories and forget the name of a previous world champion runner or a failed Prime minister, it is time to call in the fishing fleet. As a child I used to watch this fleet coming in with the first herring which would be rushed and presented to the Dutch queen. Those first herrings used to cost a fortune. Our family would wait for the price to fall before able to buy them. The fishermen’s wives were waiting anxiously  at the peers for the boats to come in.

I was at the tail end of the herring fleet still being under sails. I might have been nine years or so. It wasn’t always that the boats would come back. It was a risky business and storms on the North Sea were frequent and dangerous. Many a husband would be lost. In those days the women waiting at the peer still wore traditional clothing, dark brown billowing skirts down to the ankle, and white head- gear. Perhaps they also wore a lacy scarf around their shoulders. It was all so long ago.

Now-a-days, fishing vessels are so large and so sophisticated they graze the ocean floor like never before. The whole area would be covered in miles of netting more or less depleting everything that swam. I remember two years ago a huge Dutch factory boat tried to enter Australian waters to fish. The local protesting fishermen were successful in fighting for their own rights to fish. The Dutch ship retreated and lost their case. Why has everything become so unromantic? I know losing your life while fishing isn’t romantic but so much of the past made and held memories. What memories will our grandchildren nurture in their old age? Perhaps in the future the Alzheimer will be cured by simply living along life’s path without anything remarkable to imprint on our memory’s storage. Memories will simply not be there anymore to lose!

Here is a dish to remember though. It is simple, cheap, healthy and guaranteed to refresh memories of failed Prime ministers and long time champions including Zátopek.

Its ingredients are potatoes, a good leek, onions, garlic, milk, herbs, a bit of butter, a bunch of bok-choy, tinned tuna in oil and little salt, pepper and chili. Also, young grated cheese.

Bok-choy

Bok-choy

Simply slice thinly a few potatoes and in layers interspersed with all the above sliced ingredient, place in a oven-proof ceramic dish. Soak the whole lot in milk level with the top of the dish and bake for an hour or so at 150C temperature. Make sure you are generous with the grated cheese on top to make sure this is brown and crusty. You then eat it with your spouse without saying a single word, except at times, just say mmm and again mmm.

I do hope my grandkids will remember my pancakes made with buttermilk.

We will all be lucky to get out alive.

 

The Aspidistra and a Bed.

April 13, 2015
Aspidistra

Aspidistra

If one could compare an aspidistra with some marriages, it would not be far off the mark. The same conclusion might be drawn from home-made timber beds.  I am always in awe of those death notices in the back pages of newspapers reading how Mr or Mrs  Robinson passed away at over eighty or more, leaving a sad and bewildered partner , countless children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren. All to continue on and pick up the pieces, in that strange unpredictable fickle game which we call life.  I am of course talking about the aspidistra- like- endurance to keep going, making the best of all life’s problems. Actually, I should write ‘challenges’. There are no problems anymore, just challenges. We are all  ‘challenged’ throughout our lives, so we are told…but I remain suspicious. Be wary of the wisdom espoused from learned couches.

One reason might by that not long ago, life was supposed to be not really difficult or challenging. It was just a matter  of grabbing ‘solutions’. Remember the age of solutions? Huge trucks would thunder past with tarpaulins covering ‘banana solution to you from sunny Queensland.’  Our butcher,  when we were still living on the farm had ‘meat solutions’ written on his display window. “I’ll have two kilo of your best sausage solutions, please butcher!” And before that some of us might have a life somehow unnecessarily tangled up by not practising enough of ‘logistics’. We needed to get our logistics sorted out! There are some  of the brightest ad men in town thinking all this up. The psychiatrist couch is worn threadbare by endless queues lining up to sort out all that confusion. And it is no wonder. It used to be simple.

All this latest insight while sipping my first coffee at 5.30 am and staring at an aspidistra, sitting on the kitchen bench keeping an eye out for any eventuality. If aspidistra’s could talk! Helvi told me that it is the same one we had in Balmain in 1976 when we moved in after returning from three years in Holland. Helvi’s memory is phenomenal. She remembers having bought it at a market stall that is still being held every Saturday. The same market stall where I tried setting up a business selling chicken sates. It lasted just a couple of Saturdays. The smell of  raw chicken pieces on bamboo stick with peanut sauce was overwhelming. I don’t mind eating them. But amazingly, around 2002, and buying my sausage solutions I got talking to the butcher at Marulan (170 KMs from Balmain’s Sydney) who remembered my chicken sate all those years ago. He said; “they were the best chicken sates I ever had and the spicy peanut sauce was fantastic.” No small praise from a butcher! It is a small world indeed.

On par with the longevity of our aspidistra we also had a bed  that lived even longer. I made that bed soon after our arrival in Holland when we left Australia in 1976. We had taken our camping airbeds with us in the aeroplane together with clothes. All was packed tightly in four suitcases. We had no address to go to but had arranged to meet a mayor of a small town to whom I had written from Australia. He had published an article about art and community. We stayed one night in a hotel near the airport from where I arranged to hire a car. Next day we met the Mayor and he knew a farmer who had an old farm house for us to use while we found our feet. It was quite an undertaking with our three children, but we were young and adventurous, but perhaps on hindsight a bit foolish as well.

Family living in Holland

Family living in Holland

In any case, after we settled in the farm-house in North-West Holland on the second day after arrival, I bought a Skill electric saw and some dressed pine to try and make a bed. I had already made a bed in that rickety old Balmain cottage because the narrow curving stairs would never allow a double bed through.  I had refined the design to the simplest form. The matrass would rest on slats that were being held within a frame of four planks dowelled together with timber dowels. The whole bed would be flush with floor, so nothing could ever get lost underneath this bed, ever; not even a single sock. It was Queen size and totally demountable. It had no nails.

After three years in Holland we returned to Australia and straight back to Balmain. This time we had two large crates shipped over with all of our present furniture  including the home made bed that I had disassembled in a small bundle of slats and the four planks. This bed survived many, many years, with lots of sleeping and tossing and turning, sadness’s, crying and laughter,  actions. Even some unbelievable geriatric  gymnastics of latter years.

Life back in Australia

Life back in Australia

I don’t know wether we can draw any conclusions from all this, but I would suggest that making own timber bed goes a long way in the ‘logistics’ of long lasting relationships.  As for the Aspidistra, you can’t go wrong and is the least of life’s challenges.

They are sometimes called ‘cast iron’ plant. What does that tell you?

Utopia

June 28, 2013

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The Chain and Ball baseness of Politics.
Now, please don’t run away (yet), just a few words about the recent drama leading to a change of our Prime Minister. Her name is Julia Gillard. We had for the first time a PM that was and still is a female, but not anymore our country’s leader. Six years ago she was lauded as a future Prime Minister.

We had Kevin Rudd for three years first, after which fate decided a time was right for a female prime minister. We were so happy to get a change from an 11 year long stifling conservative government doing its best to keep us within the set of boundaries that ensured a solid maintenance of the status quo and cups-o-tea.

Of course, some now say, “The conservative government between 1996 and 2007 were our best years.” Sorry, but I am vague what the achievements during those years were. Was it the involvement of Australia in the Iraqi war or keeping refugees away from our shores? Was it the fondness of the PM John Howard in his love of a foreign Queen and cricket while wearing raglan sleeved pullovers…?

I remember his way of assuaging latent or not so latent xenophobia with his rant about how ‘we will decide who comes to this country and the method whereby they come’ followed up with ‘the children overboard’ lie. The slogans were received like honky-tonk to the ears of the red necks. “Let the boat people drown, they deserve it,” was his real message. “Teach them a lesson,” while rocking back authoritatively on his immoral heels. He knew it all.

As his tenure unfolded over the years, history, as it always does, spewed him out with his unpopularity resulting in only the second time around of a PM losing his own seat. Can you imagine? Yes I can. Nothing lowers everything to a level of baseness than politics.

My idea of a Utopia would be no politics and no Government. Go back to yeomen, carpenters and roof thatchers, jesters and clowns deciding issues with a fair exchange of goods for labour, a bartering for books on papyrus, wheel barrows or axes and with families around the communal fire or water-well. Poetry reading on Friday conversationally aided by the lubricant of an honest ale and strong coffee with snacks of calamari soaked in butter milk with some pepper.

There will be discourse on the weeks’ comings with fireworks and building giant slippery dips contemplation with dancing and hop scotching by others. Hurts would be heeled and soothed made better with hugs and kisses. Almonds, char-grilled and coated with chocolate would be currency and goats would give us cheese and much joyful bleating. Barking dogs and purring cats bouncing at the feet of leaping children, skipping using flaxen ropes and slapping rounded twiggy hoops round and around.

Music and singing for the just and last alive lingering up to a heaven still imagined during the final moment of a joyful departure. Incense burning to a loving memory never to fade or forgotten by kins and friends. Fresh daisies with five leaf clover on our dear beloved, so still now, yet buried below warm embracing sands.

That’s a Utopia that may one day find itself on the shores of our salt encrusted shores, smooth worn by pounding waves on rocks.
It is so much better than the present chain and ball politics.