Posts Tagged ‘TV’

Shopping perils.

July 24, 2018
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I like shopping. Supermarkets are my second home. I like the way to try and untangle the shopping trolley. And that is just the beginning. I hope for shoppers that have trouble to untangle a trolley. I then like to offer my help. At the end of our shopping expedition I sometimes help a customer retrieve their trolley deposit from the slotted device. You can only get the return of the coin by joining the trolley to  the stationary queue of trolleys. For some shoppers retrieving that coin is difficult. Their elderly hands might be rheumatically contorted. That’s when I offer my help again. So do other shoppers. A working together community. Elderly shoppers don’t give up easily. They keep going stoically and with determination.

Shopping with my wife is the norm. It has worked for decades. It is almost an institution. Through the years a kind of shopping etiquette between us has formed. I do the trolley duties including opening the car, getting the bags, clutching my trolley coin in right hand, and then wrestling with trolley. Some trolleys have a mind of their own and are unwilling to go into the direction they are being pushed to. Helvi likes to do shopping by perusing. She insists on looking at the item for enough time before it percolates into action. Only after that has taken place she will place it in my trolley. I never understood what one gets out of looking at potatoes. But, I just accept. I always push the trolley. Helvi never does! It is my domain.

Because of the perusal shopping habits by my wife I have taken to following her dutifully from behind. The middle isles at Aldi’s are the slowest.  They carry non-food items. This is where mainly women are to be found. Men only congregate around the power-tools or sets of multiple screwdrivers. Each Wednesday there are new items. Most of them are of utensil or household varieties but can include fashion, ski apparel, chairs, TV’s and lots of kitchen gadgets. Some of the uses are too esoteric for me to comprehend. These aisles can still at times cause some marital friction. I have to be extra beware not to make snide remarks. Last week there were large rubber balls to roll-around over to become athletic and slim again. ‘Athletic, with row after row of sugary drinks, acres of chocolate and lollies, I suggested?’  ‘Don’t always be so negative’, Helvi said.

I have a roll of calming mints just in case.

The ultimate of self-control is mustered when we get to a new supply of beauty products/pharmaceuticals, especially creams and re-hydrating ointments including carotene make-up with celery extract. The worst are the moisturising creams and hair-colouring divisions. I get close to feeling sick. There is something about that section that I need support with. I end up leaning against a shelf. I need support, almost medical intervention. It is so boring. Helvi knows it but takes no notice. She knows the ritual and tells me, ‘Just go to the frozen fish section.’  ‘I need more time, she says.’ She knows I like prawns and salmon. Of course, she is right. I don’t mind the perusing of fruit and veggies, fish. Why then the impatience at the middle aisles, especially the beauty articles.

Could it be the profusion of so many beauty articles in the bathroom already?

But as always. It comes to an end.I load the car up and return the trolley. I get my coin. We drive home.

Till, next time.

 

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Fitness pains.

July 5, 2018
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Most of us might be drawn to TV programs heralding the need for fitness. We are so often being told we excel in being the most obese country in the world. Some advice was given a few weeks ago, when shopping, to only shop amongst the outer aisles  and avoid the inner sanctum of supermarkets. Those inner aisles contain the worst of food aiding our spreading waistlines. That’s were the packets of chips, lollies, endless varieties of  jars of sauces hang out together with miles of soft drinks and utensils in which to cook or boil the fattening sugar loaded foods. Generally, the outer supermarket aisles have the nutritious vegetables and dairy sections to linger about in. This is also the area where more interesting people are to be found. You can tell the nutrition focussed shopper there, lists in hand ticking off the yoghurt (Greek). A serious readings of advice on the different butter-milks, the latest seeds from Bolivia and Peru. Many of us have jute cloth bags, and wear spectacles with a serious demeanour pointed towards those with Coke in their shopping trolleys..

During the last TV show it was about doing exercises. The opinion of experts was to try and do 10.000 steps a day. I can’t imagine us reaching such a level of ennui that we would walk and count each step. One need no fear of that ever happening to us. A friend informed us you can buy a strapped on gadget  that does the counting for you. It does a lot more. The gadget counts calories used, blood pressure, weight, steps up ( ascent but not descent) and lots more. They are called ‘Fitbits’. This is a generic name for different brands of physical tracking devices ranging in cost from $20.- to $600.- or even more. Many sports people use them. On a Saturday morning one can often observe bike riders checking their Fitbits while enjoying a skimmed milk latte. Did you know that those fanatic bike riders don’t wear underwear underneath their lycra skin-stretched bike gear? I don’t mind but please don’t stand too close to my Cappuccino with croissant.

We decided, after watching another fitness program, to rush out to buy our own Fitbits. We, ever so naively thought one could wear them just like a watch. However, after strapping them on and pushing a button nothing happened. Mind you, I did note that on the packaging the words ‘android’ and Blue tooth’ were mentioned. How is it that we keep getting fooled about this modern technology. The counting of those exercise steps is far from being simple.  One needs the gadget to be joined to the web through Blue tooth. I tried and tried. We ended phoning up our friends with Fitbits but nothing worked. I was asked for my Apple I.D and that involved entering my Apple password. You must be kidding me! Blue tooth? Android? What country is that?

Needles to say we rushed back to Bing Lee and fortunately we got our $378.- dollars back. Hoorah! I started delving into the different gadgets of measuring steps and lo and behold, our iPhone has that capacity.  What a discovery. Every late model of  Apple iPhone has a pink coloured app with a heart on it which is a health app. that measures the basic movements of your body. So, till 1pm today I have done 3800. steps and climbed stairs 4 times.

I am feeling fitter already.

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.

The lie of “it isn’t cricket.”

March 26, 2018

 

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Our Grandsons at earlier times. Now teenagers!

 

A few days ago the ABC featured an article whereby fathers were trying to come to grips with the upbringing of boys. It was a father and sons article. It featured a photo of young smiling boys with cricket bats in their hands. The perfect roll model for creating future generations of wholesome men. It was presumed that young boys could not fail but to grow up as honourable and steadfastly focussed in pursuing a life on being good and caring adults. Learning cricket with fathers is sure-fire antidote for young boys to the dreadful Trump and Weinstein culture now so pervasive all around them.

http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/2018-03-24/how-junior-sport-can-help-teach-boys-to-be-good-men/1744754

And then the biggest scandal in cricket exploded. Australia has always been a country of cricket. I remember during the first year of having arrived in Australia I became curious about the steady serious drone of male commentators on radios filtering through the venetian blinds of the suburban street walking on my way home from work. . When I inquired, I was told ‘it is cricket’, ‘don’t you know?’

We now know that the expression; “it isn’t cricket” has to undergo some serious revision. ‘Cheating’ is now embedded in cricket. The fall of this sport from grace is spectacularly shown on every front page and on every TV channel. The cricket ball was tampered with. Every few minutes we are shown the video in slow motion of a world famous cricketer trying to hide a small piece of yellow tape in his underpants. This piece of tape was supposed to alter the cricket ball’s curvature and spin when hurled through the sky on its way to the wooden bat and so presumably give an unfair advantage to one side of the playing teams. The plot to cheat was apparently hatched when during a spell they all were drinking cups of tea. The cricket Captain was involved during the tea break and it met the approval of those ready to win at all cost.

Anyway. For those with long memories, I have always maintained that as long as any sport is run maniacally to win at all cost, it will sooner or later come to a sad end. I even suggested and fostered the idea to have losers declared to be the winners at times. In other words, enjoy the playing of the game no matter what the outcome. Winning is all so overrated.

There are all sorts of sport worms now coming to the fore. In Rugby, rorting with salaries is now being exposed. In cycling a champion had to give up his medals because of taking cycling enhancing drugs. Russian sports people are banned for doping and heaven know what else.  One burly Australian footballer went on a rampage in New York City assaulting a family with children and is welcomed back into his rugby team. Can you believe it?  He hasn’t even apologised and paid the amount of compensation as demanded in a Court of Law.

http://www.news.com.au/sport/nrl/aussie-league-stars-new-york-rampage-i-didnt-know-when-help-was-going-to-come/news-story/257c6eb3211f91cb63801ff2a96e357d

Well, young fathers; I would give visiting sports venues with young sons ( why not daughters as well?) a miss for a while. What’s wrong with a nice outing to a library or art gallery, let the kids run wild amongst friendly non combatting books or soak up a good nicely coloured Chagall painting?

It might do some good. Sport is just not ‘cricket’ anymore. That is a great pity!

 

Watch the Matildas wipe AFL and Rugby out of the sporting pages and (lack) marriage equality.

September 21, 2017
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                          Sam Kerr doing the backflip

Move over boys, the women are coming! Nothing has been more exciting than watching women take over the back-page sporting pages away from the men, and not before time. The on-field backflips of Sam Kerr are sweeping the world.

I am normally not interested much in sport and find it a great pity that one is forced to endure sport before the  weather forecast. I often forego the weather report in order to miss a particularly ear-grating sport commentator. The horror of discovering, after our arrival in 1956, that a sport was being played in Australia with a ball that wasn’t round has never really left.

The Australian all girl soccer team of the Matildas is now winning over the admiration of many if not all. The reluctance of allowing women sport to be equal to that of men isn’t yet totally won over, but it is happening. They still play in lesser stadiums and earning lesser pay but the enthusiasm of the crowds are rising rapidly. The Matildas thrice win against Brazil was the clincher. A full proof sign that it is gaining momentum is the fact that our grandsons and their mates are now watching the women soccer games being played on TV.

The spectacular backflips of the main striker Sam Kerr after scoring her goals, are shown world-wide and grabbing attention that could not be improved upon no matter how well the advertising of sponsors.

It’s almost pushing the Same Sex Marriage debate off the news.

Last week on Q&A ( question and answer)  the Israeli politician Merav Michaeli was on the panel who  was sceptical of all marriages and concerned about the effects of break-up marriages on children, the equal rights of property division etc.

“Israeli parliament Merav Michaeli, whose reaction to Seselja’s meandering celebration of heterosexual marriage alongside his scaremongering over the school curriculum was best captured by guest host Virginia Trioli.Trioli to Michaeli: “You didn’t let Zed Seselja get through that answer without lowering your eyes. You have a jaundiced view of this institution?”

Jaundiced isn’t the half of it: “It was created back at the time when we women were commodities, as were children, as were men without property and of other colours. This is not something that we should maintain in the world when we realise all of us are human beings. It is not about love. 

“I realise the campaign says that love is equal. Love is definitely equal. It’s got nothing to do with this institution. This was a tool that was made to dominate women for the sake of reproduction. For men to have legal custody over children which are to the largest I would say chance of certainty their own flesh and blood. This is not something we should sustain.”

The best answer for the ‘yes’ vote was giving by a member of the audience who stated that a ‘no’ vote meant that the marriage between heterosexual people was the only moral right way, and that the ‘yes’ vote was  wrong denying the rights of marriage between people born with different orientations, implying that being different was inherently wrong and of a lesser value.

Of course, no one is obliged to marry, no matter how equal it hopefully might become.

My ‘yes’ vote is in the post.

 

Going for Thai lunch.

August 12, 2017

 

photothighs and toms

 

We have an arrangement with friends to go at least once a month for lunch. So far we have had three lunches and all have been at different Thai restaurants. In between lunches with friends we sometimes sneak in a lunch just by ourselves. Helvi really likes ‘lunching’ to be kept to a minimal. ‘What’s the point of going often when it will finally end up just as boring as putting on your socks?’ An argument difficult to counter. An oft repeated act always runs the risk of suffering the ennui which we are so keen to avoid.

Some acts oft repeated seem almost unavoidable. One of those involves getting dressed and undressed. I have written about this before. But putting on a different uniform when going to bed always has struck me as a rather futile arrangement. Why not just go to sleep? If we are part of the animal world we certainly don’t follow the pattern of animals by crawling somewhere horizontal and wait for sleep to overcome us. I don’t know of any animal that changes its coat or outer garment, do you? Why do we insist on this ritual of wearing two uniforms during each twenty-four hour episode of our lives? Has it always been like that?

Taking a holiday is also a good circuit breaker in softening the deadening routine of everyday life. In the past I foolishly argued that life ought to be exciting on its own without needing a break. Routine would just not occur if we had the nous to be creative and innovative in arranging the hours between waking and sleeping. A holiday was superfluous. Life was a holiday. But, and this is the dilemma we face in ageing; energy wanes.

I know, some maddening examples are given on Face-Book of people in their late eighties, climbing Mount Everest, swimming in polar regions or tirelessly re-marrying. But these are infuriating examples teasing us to click on a Face-Book advertisement urging us to buy   ‘Go-Ease Stool Softener,’ or worse, ‘Gastro-Stop’ . Modern parlance calls this ‘click-bait.’ Ageing is not without those sewer- entrepreneurs that cunningly exploit the old and try and ease us of our savings. The exposure on TV of the horrors of what happens in Retirement Villages could very well encourage many to hurry, and click-on ‘Delights of Euthanasia.’

I have been poring over ‘Princess” cruises which entice people to go on a large boat across many waters, explore tropical islands, get tempted by locally hand-made baskets or watch iridescent lagoons glow at the setting sun, watched over by waving palms.

When I ‘clicked-on’ the details of what to wear and what to pack in clothing on those cruises I read that they do insist on ‘smart-casual’ dress code and ‘formal’ for some days when they have social events such as ‘Gatsby’ evenings.

The women might like to dress as ‘flappers’ and the men like ‘Crosby’. Cocktail dress or frock for the ladies and black jacket and pants for the ‘boys’.

This was followed by a stern warning that jeans with holes in them would not be allowed on-board in the restaurants. We all know that jeans with holes cost a fortune. In fact the more holes or even complete missing legs are beyond the financial  resources of most people. A curious Princess rule.

When I told Helvi, she now refuses to consider a Princess cruise. She scoffed at ‘Cocktail dress’.

Nothing is easy. Best to stick to the occasional ‘Thai Lunch’.

 

 

Doctor will see you now.

July 4, 2017
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The sun is out.

It is surprising how it has turned around. Years ago, if one was crook, doctors would do home-visits. Before doctor’s arrival, Mother would give the house a peremptory clean-up with the toilet-brush swirling vigorously around the bowl, then a quick flush. All was aired. The kitchen given a quick scan and dishes put away. The patient, one of us children, would lie prone in bed wearing a suitable pallor, indicating the illness was genuine, dispelling any doubt he or she could have gone to the Doctor’s Practice instead.

Most doctors now have moved into collective groups and in my own case it’s almost like going to the pictures. One enters a large building with doors sensing patient’s arrival opening up, before your trembling hand is even within reach of the glass. Germs are well contained within the patient’s own bodily confines. This collective groups of doctors are now called ‘Medical Centre,’ all housed under the same roof. One almost expects the possibility of the Centre  to address other issues as well, perhaps selling vacuum cleaners or prosthesis’.

For the over seventy-five, the driver’s license can only be renewed after an obligatory medical test. One of the questions I faced a few weeks ago was; if nurturing ‘suicidal thoughts’ were obvious. I can’t imagine a patient entering Doctor’s office with a length of rope scanning the ceiling for any suitable hooks to hang oneself from. How does one nurture suicidal thoughts ‘obviously?’

Of the few times I see a doctor, there are always rows of patients seated next to each other in the waiting-room. I am idling some time away trying to figure out their ailments. A bandage here and there makes this guessing easy. It get’s a bit tricker when nothing apparent is visible. Last time I noticed a woman with a very red face as if she had been the aim in a beetroot throwing party. She could have high blood pressure. With healthy men I wonder if they are seeking a repeat prescription for Viagra, especially if they look a bit tense or shifty. I believe Viagra ordered on-line is risky. There have been cases where the Viagra was just an aspirin with the patience of the partner finally running out and romance flagging so sadly.

My Medical Centre waiting room had a number of rooms attached in which the different doctors would see their patients by calling out their names. Of course, with average patient’s age ripening, the hearing aids feature plentiful. That’s why doctors now call out the names much louder than let’s say 10 years ago. It won’t be long and doctors will hold high, boards with names on it.

My waiting room has an aquarium with listless gold-fishes just swimming around oblivious to any ailments or physical shortcomings of the surrounding people. At the bottom of this aquarium nestles a Tudor castle and some plastic trees. What disturbed or factious genius thought up building a castle underneath water and then proceed to drown trees? No wonder the gold-fish are listless. Above this  watery oddity is a TV screen giving patients now a second options in loosing their minds. This TV is showing the local temperature interspersed with a quiz testing medical knowledge. One question asked if flu was caused by bacteria or virus? Most of the questions gave three or four possibilities or answers. One had to guess correctly by answering  a, b, c, or whatever.

The TV is not really looked at. Even the elderly are checking their iPhones now, bent over little screens, little sighs sometimes escape.  Getting old is not without sighs.

Years ago we held wild parties. I remember a woman coming out of our bedroom, totally dishevelled at 4am. She had crashed out on our bed. She woke up and ambled into the lounge-room where some of us were still going on, rambling about politics or the state of the Vietnam war. ‘Is there another cold one in the fridge,’ she asked? We never even knew who she was or what she was doing. That’s how casual it all was. It did not matter, she had played the piano earlier on. Not a care in the world.

Now, I am sitting in a waiting room at a Medical Centre also wearing hearing aids. What’s going on?

 

It came to $41.20 without any sugar

April 3, 2017
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Grapes, strawberries and figs.

The $41.20 was the total of our shopping adventure this morning. The day started early. With the change in day-light saving we seem to get up earlier instead of sleeping longer. That sleeping-in, so desired when young, evades us now. I am always glad the night is over. Unless we have to get out shopping and walking, we generally muck about till midday in our pyjamas. Now that winter is knocking, we might consider not even moving out of them at all. We shall see!

We are still reeling somewhat from a range of TV programs whereby eating sugar has been taken under the loupe. I hope millions have watched those TV programs and the dire consequences resulting from eating sugar. It is not just obvious sugar, no it is the hidden sugar in our foods. Most breakfast cereals, sauces, micro-wave foods and almost all processed foods have  lots of sugar.  I thought that a fruit yoghurt was a fairly safe food to ingest. Wrong! That too has ladles of sugar. So have all fruit drinks. Of course, a Coke drink is pure poison. If cigarettes are addictive, the experts reckon so is sugar. The present world epidemic of obesity is all sugar related. Yet,  apart from some brave souls exposing the evils of sugar, our government is eerily quiet. “A personal choice,” they might sometimes whisper behind closed doors.

We have never been fond of sweets and apart from one spoon of sugar in coffee we never take the stuff in anything else. We cook without shop-bought sauces. I suppose those lovely Italian tinned tomatoes have some sugar, as has most bread and pasta. We never drink lemonade or soft drinks, and reckon water is as good a drink as any. But…what about wine? I thought that the sugars in grapes convert into alcohol. Is that so? I hope so. I would not like to give up my love of the afternoon ritual sitting in the garden talking with Helvi while sipping wine.

Milo knows the ritual and we bring his cushion out. A creature of habit. He sees me filling a glass with Shiraz and he bolts towards the back-yard sliding doors. He loves us doing that. So, I do hope that there isn’t too much sugar in wine, even if just for Milo’s sake.

It is amazing that most of our modern dietary habits have been installed by the large Multi Corporations. I remember the large Coca Cola truck rolling into our primary schools in Holland giving all children a free Coca Cola. This was during the mid nineteen- fifties. It was the beginning of the end. We seem powerless against the intrusion into our lives by those large businesses that profit from spreading premature deaths to millions all over the world. Deaths that can easily be avoided by not eating so much sugar.  The health costs eventually will force government to act and stand up to the likes of MacDonald, KFC, Cadbury and all those other perfidious multi nationals. I noticed that some school kids during sport wear caps with the McDonald logo on it. How is that possible?  Where are the protesting parents?

In those programs the large corporations were asked about their responsibility in all that obesity. They avoided it by denying the evils of sugar. The same tactics used by cigarette companies.

But getting back to our shopping bill. The $41.20 included;  a man’s flannel pyjamas (XL), a bottle of Precious Earth Shiraz,  a four pack of salmon cutlets, a bar of Dove soap, a bunch of broccolini, three avocadoes, Cherri tomatoes, a tin of Italian tomatoes and four bananas. There might have been another item but I threw away the receipt.

 

Communion with a Frog.

November 22, 2016
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Milo at peace with the world

 

The event of my friendship with a stingray following me in the water along a stretch of beach at Bendalong was perplexing enough, but yesterday we had a frog visiting us inside our home. How often would a frog end up inside our homes? It would have to be a deliberate choice; surely?

It happened during last evening’s TV hour of Rick Stein’s ‘Venice and Food.’ He seems to be joining several TV cooks combining culture and food, or at least linking food having its origins in making do with whatever was available at earlier less affluent times . Good food is the result of poverty more than wealth. Herbs were added to basic ingredients to make tasty and often nutritious food by peasants. Of course, at least in Venice, the peasants have disappeared or are rich. The real peasants have morphed into hordes of belching tourists.

Last night’s Rick Stein’s tour along Venice’s Grand canals were interspersed with sea-food risottos or pastas dished on mouth-watering steaming plates, all so colourful, with just the right amount of a verdant green sprinkle of parsley, with Venetian sienna accented intonations by a smiling waitress.

When everything was steaming along on TV, I noticed Milo, our much revered Jack-Russell Terrier, carrying something around in his mouth. As it was dark outside I did not think it would be a lizard. During daytime hours, one of the less social acceptable amusements is Milo chasing lizards and performing amputations of their tails. He is totally flabbergasted that there are now two wriggling beings instead of just the previous single one. We don’t encourage him.

I told Milo to drop his pray. He did instantly. On close inspection I thought it might be a young bird. It kept moving about. I lost sight of it in the semi-darkness of our lounge room. We usually spent evenings in subdued lighting. Milo though, all excited, wasn’t about to loose his pray and directed me to this missing little animal hopping about. It had now jumped into our bedroom. I looked and discovered it was a fairly large frog. I tried putting a dish-washer cloth over it. It jumped away before the cloth hit the floor. It had jumped into the bathroom. Perhaps it needed water?

I managed to find it again underneath a rack of towels. This time I covered the frog with a wet towel. I told Helvi about the frog, but she did not seem interested, and kept looking at Venice and listening to Rick Stein’s cooking commentary on the telly. I duly and with some magnanimity carried (proudly) the frog to the other side of the house and to the safety of a tangled Jasmin bush. During the last few years  this jasmin managed to scramble over the paling fence shared by our neighbour. It was also near an outside light which had a crowd of insects buzzing about. I hoped this frog would find a nice morsel as well. It should not just be the domain of Rick Stein. I then took it a small saucer of water.

After the show was over, I urged Helvi to take a look outside at the frog. It was still there and looked happy. As far as it is possible to detect happiness in a frog.

Good boy, Milo. Good boy, for not pulling the tail off a friendly frog.

The Gas bill.

July 13, 2016

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The latest Gas Bill arrived yesterday and showed a surprising fall in usage compared with the same period of last year’s. And that is despite the gas rates having gone up. Some six years ago after moving in our town-house, we did fill up all possible cavities above ceilings with insulation blankets. It seems that the mania for installing downlights reached its zenith around that time too. We have dozens of them. The bathroom upstairs has three of those alone.

In the past, one light per room was the norm. With the innovation of low voltage lights, architects seemed to think they could now go berserk on installing a multitude of down-lights on every square metre of ceiling. Of course, by doing that they would not have found much opposition from the energy companies. The more wastage the better. It wasn’t till I crawled into the roof space one evening when I noticed the whole area ablaze with light as well. The insulation experts told us that a lot of leakage of both light and heat was due to the downlights. We had to put brackets over all the downlights above the ceilings so that the insulation could go over those downlights’ transformers, prevent possible fire.

The roofs already had insulation blankets underneath the rafters installed by the original builders. So, we have double insulation. Of course, this will not insulate us against our final ‘journey’, but at least we will be warm as long as possible in the process. This is also why we put in double glazing on all glass areas in our living spaces downstairs. Readers by now might well conclude we live like misers, going around the place with candles, cackling manically, and ghoulishly celebrating, re-reading old gas bills. This is not true. We live well. It is just a Dutch treat or trait, that wastage is the eternal enemy to guard against. It might well be genetic.

Today though we will really test the ability to stay warm. An icy blast from Antarctica is supposed to reach us within a matter of hours. Already further south, people have been warned to stay indoors. The TV news showed us people all huddled up and looking anxiously at the sky. They say, that keeping newspapers in between blankets is a good way to stay warm too. I would recommend NOT to use The Daily Telegraph, The Australian or The Financial Times. They are owned by Murdoch and likely to send shivers up your spine. The Sydney morning Herald or Dutch Australian Weekly, Suomilainen Lahti, Aldi’s catalogues or Die Woche are all fine.

Snow is expected to fall wide-spread, especially in the Southern Highlands where we are living. Well, we are prepared as well as possible and will survive. I do hope that those Danish doonas stolen so many years ago are still warming up a few lost souls. The events so long past whereby the thieves stole doonas and yet did not touch money or other valuables, speaks volumes. It still intrigues, does it not?

By the way. Our gas bill was $396,- compared with last year’s (over the same period) $489.-. The bill covers three months. We did have an extraordinary warm autumn though. Perhaps that explains it. Even so, the rates per M3 of gas did go up! I now pay those bills using the computer. Such has been my progress on using IT.