Posts Tagged ‘Vietnam’

The Frugals have gone.

April 18, 2018

Image result for Early wooden barrel Westinghouse washing machines

Our washing machine in Australia.

 

Do people still know anyone who is frugal? History tells us that in the past it was normal to be frugal. The Frugals wore clothes till they worn out and kept the best for church or funerals. They darned socks. Does anyone still darn today? A needle with woollen thread was used till the hole went. You don’t throw stuff away because it has a hole, or because it becomes unfashionable. The frugal gene in Australia really became embedded after WW 1 followed by the great depression of the late twenties/ thirties. Generations of frugals would switch off lights not because of saving the environment or global heating but because it saved money. The best way to survive was to become a frugal.

The period during and after WW1 meant the decimation of many Australian males which left an almost doubling of young females keen to find husbands. However, to add to the misery of male shortages it was also rare for females to work, and earn an income. Females just did not work on payable jobs but slogged away at home on the scrubbing board and darning socks.  I know this because that’s what was done in my family, although we, even while still in Holland, managed to have an electric washing machine; an early Westinghouse. That was in the early fifties, when economies started to grow and blossom, making people better off. This electric monster of a washing machine with its oak steel-hooped drum was shipped over to Australia after Mum and Dad decided to migrate there. It was admired in the whole street and worked ceaselessly for many years. It was another proof of sensibility and ardent frugality.

It was perhaps the Korean war and after the Vietnam war that the frugals were starting to loose their grip on domestic frugality. The expenditure on useless consumer gadgets started to raise its ugly head. This was followed by ‘easy terms’. Everything was obtainable through easy terms. It thoroughly corrupted my Mum who foolishly bought a Sunbeam electric frying pan on ‘easy terms.’ Dad followed with buying a B/W TV for an enormous amount of money to be paid over three years. Can you believe it?

Even so, frugality somehow survived. It was the hippy movement with Hair that desperately tried to hang on sensible frugal living with the urge to resist mindless consumerism, but that was overcome by Governments and the invention of huge public hoardings, urging us to buy Instant Coffee with 43 beans or Lovable Bras that could ‘lift and separate’,  nurturing spending, and corrupting us in the belief that the endless buying of things just for the sake of buying was good enough and gave lots of Happy to the chagrined.

All this of course is what happens today. During the previous epoch of frugality, houses, kitchen and bathrooms were not seen as items to be updated. Appliances would last forever. Now, the last of the Frugals, look on in amazement, and disbelief  how the baby boomers hurl themselves into four wheel drives and build monster MacMansions. Do they really come from the same gene pool. How did this happen?

The surplus of women after WW1 meant that those that missed out snaring a hubby, started the frugal movement with many sharing meagre incomes and bitter loneliness by living together, mostly in a non-sexual way.

However, as always the pendulum swung the other way with the arrival of tens of thousands of single men enticed by gloriously coloured Australian Governmental advertisements to work the mines in Australia in the forties till the sixties. Many of those from Europe still enjoyed rock solid and well entrenched frugal genes instilled too by same wars and economic depressions. My parents,  even though Dad did not have blond or blue features nor single, did have a knack for the butter to be spread thinly and for his children to always switch off the lights leaving the room.  We worked ‘over-time’. Over-time paid ‘time and a half’, Sundays paid double. I liked working on Sundays. Mum would be most generous in her Papal dispensational discourse for us not having to go to the obligatory Sunday church and earn double instead. We saved to white knuckled bones and pooled our moneys. It was enough to get into our own home within two years. Proof of frugality that paid off.

There you have it. Since WW1 and within, at best three generations, frugality now has swung to rampant consumerism throwing all caution to the wind. To the present generation, darning socks and the Singer sewing machine, they are relics many would not know about, nor the delights of unknitting an old jumper and re-knitting the wool into a pair of slippers. All gone.

The young and good consumers complain how difficult it is to get into the housing market. Yet, they feel it a normal right not to go without what they regard as essential; the café breakfast with avocados, the overseas holiday, the latest Apple iPhone. I have yet to see a young girl on the train with threadbare jeans sewing them up or knitting.  Where are the young knitters to save for a house?

The last of the Frugals are now shuffling into retirement homes. Some brave souls you see driving around, all bald, knock kneed or grey, having hitched a caravan to the SUV, travelling around Australia, whooping it up, perhaps for their very first time.

I remain amazed.

Doctor will see you now.

July 4, 2017
IMG_0696

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?

 

The sad face of a prawn.

January 24, 2015

imagesMBKFZ0Q3Prawn farms

Everybody knows that tropical fresh water fish are easy to keep and will even reproduce in an aquarium. As a child I was deeply traumatised when our female swordfish kept pushing out little baby swordfish only to watch in horror how those defenceless babies were quickly eaten by the large and naughty black fish. ( I have forgotten its name) Tropical salt water fish are much more difficult to keep and do need much more water to swim in. I never heard of successful breeding of those fish in aquariums. However, if babies get eaten in most cases in aquariums I was glad my salt water fish never reproduced. There is enough murder and mayhem in the world as it is.

Of course large scale fish farming is now practised all over the world. The Tasmanian salmon are bred in very large floating tanks in mid ocean. But, with every step forward there are two going back. Nothing is ever easy. Sharks and dolphins soon managed to leap into those tanks and made a meal out of it. Boy, did they find Nirvana. So happy, they were so happy. The salmon company nearly went broke and almost gave up. They experimented with different coverings and all tanks are now covered by strong steel mesh. For a while the sharks and dolphins kept on leaping but nothing is more off-putting for passing sharks and roving salmon lovers than to look up and see de-hydrated cadavers of their own perished on top of the mesh wire coverings. A bitter lesson learnt just as quickly. They too have known sadness.

I watched a program whereby prawns were farmed in Asia and given dreadful food dredged from the bottom of the ocean and made into dry pellets fed to the farmed prawns. The prawns were force-fed to eat those pellets despite their loud shrieking protests at night, keeping the neighbours awake at all hours. It put us totally off prawns watching a Vietnamese prawn farmer chucking bucket-loads of the dreaded pellets to the waiting hungry prawns.

Whenever we buy anything fishy now we make sure they are Australian bred. In a blind tasting event almost all picked the Australian prawn over the Vietnamese one. This was most encouraging and pleased that at least on our own home-ground, prawns were bred with kindness and care. However, nothing is always perfect. We try and overcome and make the best of this life.
Prawns too know sadness.

The same with eggs. While most caged laid eggs are banned in many countries, Australia is lagging behind. Even so, the tide is turning and even big golden arched M’s MacDonald’s have now decided to go for barn laid eggs. However, here it comes; Barn laid eggs are also steeped in deceit and much cunning;

https://oosterman.wordpress.com/2012/05/29/free-range-chooks-its-a-con/

Chickens too, experience great sadness.

We bought a kilo of cooked Australian prawns from Aldi but they are too chewy, so…what next?

The sadness keeps coming!

Western Polo-necked Youth drawn (radicalised) to Isis.

October 1, 2014

untitledvoodoo

The local youth don’t know what they are missing out on. What’s the golden syrup that draws the future jihadists away from our lovely, caring and all inclusive culture? Of the estimated 30000 Isis army about a thousand or more are alleged to have come from Western countries. The videos and the beheadings in Syria are supposed to have been done by someone with an English accent. Perhaps even an English national. Claims were made that the identity of him is known. Many countries are scrambling their fighter jets. We are daily shown TV images of pin point accurate bombs honing in on enemy targets with plumes of black smoke radiating dangerously close towards us on the comfy couch, accompanied by a shot of a pulverised, disintegrating enemy(real people).We almost end up clapping or at least hope for an encore.

If those figures are correct, it means about 10% of all the Isis forces are from Europe, America and Australia. That sad video made by a woman undercover in Syria, of a French youth on the phone to his crying mum back home in France, telling her that he wants to stay in Syria and fight. “I am not coming home”, he said

The reason given is that of being ‘radicalised’. The young people are being radicalised! It almost sounds as if there is some Voodoo going on. You know, feathers and chicken heads besmirched with demonic dancing around funereal fires. There must be hypnotic Isis practitioners out in the suburbs casting strange spells on our youth. Oh, that’s the explanation! Yes, we see now. Yes, that’s why! Nothing more? Is that all there is to it? The magic of radicalisation? How simplistic, but that word is being used to explain the hard to swallow fact that many of our young feel attracted away from our much revered system of consumerism and capitalism. How can that be?. Let’s cancel their passports; teach them a lesson.

http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2014/09/dutch_cancel_49_jihadist_passp.php

Isn’t that a bit easy? Surely there must be better explanations offering more thought out and credible reasons why so many are drawn to fight in far away sandy and risky countries. I don’t know either but I am now old and often in repose mood, not yet listless. I well remember, as if yesterday, not being like that. My main aim in life was always to savour the new and skirt and flirt the adventurous, avoid the staid cemented-in, like the plague. I have been reasonably successful in that and wasn’t ever tempted to become a lawyer, a quantity surveyor or actuarial expert with a sound grounding in so much nothingness. Not the stooped-over office chair for me. I too might have been tempted to join an Isis!

I do remember the opposition to the Vietnam war. Young boy-like soldiers laughingly saying goodbye to wives, mothers, girlfriends. Many never to return but in bitter graves under moonless skies. There were escapes for youth then, with protests by students, energetic rock throwing by their professors. America and its allies capitulated. The war lost.

But now, nothing but a numb acceptance of everything that is imposed, unquestioningly and obediently. Dreadful things happening under the guise of ‘humanitarian concerns.’ The killing fields of our detention camps. The 15% unemployment rates of the young. It must be having an effect on our youths. Is despair rampant?

Perhaps this disillusion felt by youth has spread to the Western world as a whole. Has capitalism and consumerism run its course?

Don’t we give back what is given to us?

Is that perhaps one reason for some of the youth to be attracted to Isis.

Is that the radicalisation? I don’t know.

What do you think?

Pancakes ( Our diabolical regression in the Art of cooking)

January 30, 2013

Of course, our eating habits have changed. Who would have thought mums now buy a plastic bottle with the advice ‘just shake it’? The ‘just shake it’ seems to be a prepared kind of pancake mix. I would imagine the intending cook fills up the empty space in the plastic bottle with milk and then ‘just shake’ it, with mixture ready for pancake making. It probably makes about five or six pancakes and at $ 1.85 works out at the outrageous price of 30cents a pancake, not including the golden syrup or jam on top. Perhaps the ‘just shake it’ has been embedded from a latent subliminal message from eager husbands pestering tired wives late at night. A clever use of product enhancement.

It must be back-breaking work to put flour in a bowl, and then add some milk, a couple of eggs and whisk the lot together and get the old fashioned pan-cake mixture for a quarter of the cost. Walking slowly past the supermarket’s shelves there were other similar products. A cheese in a tube, some powder that turns into instant mashed potato, but the most irksome of them all, and H is so sick of me commenting on them, are…simmering sauces. My eyes forever keeping guard on our dietary habits, I even spotted a kind of meat-spread in a tube. It was called, I think, devilish spread which came in mild and spicy.

Yet, again, I switched on the telly and it’s almost obligatory now to find and watch a cooking show. No matter what time, there is someone with eyes turned heavenly upwards, saying ‘oh, how yum’ or ‘wow’. Fresh ingredients are tossed together; fish, meat, snails, frogs are being infused, thrown about and cooked almost to the point of a kind of Le Mans’ car race.

It’s all very confusing. There are options in watching French, Italian; Spanish cooks either cooking away in their own country or in top restaurants in Britain. They seem so enthusiastic, you wonder if they have mattresses tucked behind those huge gleaming stainless steel stoves and just take quick naps in between the stacking of delicious looking char-grilled hearts of goats and noodles with infused ginger and deep fried shreds and strips of celeriac with chanterelle-shiitake mushrooms on giant plates.

Then there are culinary delights shown in Vietnam, Indonesia, Burma, even Thailand. Fresh fish swimming, frogs are croaking and eels or snakes still slithering about. Within minutes it is all cooked and on the table with huge smiling families feasting away.

If pancake making is the only thing my grandkids will remember me by; so be it. It would be nice to have an epitaph on my pebble crete slab; “here lies the greatest pancake- maker” (but keep off the grass).

Cooking needs to be an act of love. You can never cook something in total indifference. When the kids are over, pancake making has almost religious overtones. Their own parents’ pancakes seem to lack ‘crispy edges’, I was told by Max who is the youngest of the three grandsons, adding, ‘they are alright though’, not wanting to dob in his parents.

It is not as if I swoon over every pancake but I do hand mix the dough adding water and pinch of salt. I use real butter and cook on two cast iron solid pans on high heat. When I gently lower the mixture into the pan, the edges frizzle and sizzle out into the much desired golden crispy and crunchy edging. While hot, I rush them over to the kids seated at the round table, fork and knife in hand and at the ready. I squeeze some lime juice and sprinkle a light dusting of sugar.

I leave the rest to them.

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.