Posts Tagged ‘Wine’

The violets have it.

October 15, 2017

IMG_20171013_172328~2 The pansies.jpg

We might have to leave  Weinstein to his sex rehabilitation clinic and move back to the world of contemplating worthier subjects. How does one rehabilitate sex addicts-fiends? Do they get told to think of Ireland at the feet of Mother England, or stare for days on end at cabbages?

I know the above picture is out of focus, but no wonder, Violets do get frightened and sometimes shrink, as we are so often told.  Even so, it is a rare but at times quite a perfect world, if only we get to take the time and look around.

The basket in which those violets are at present living was getting past their ability to carry fruit with the plaited rattan fraying at the edges. Helvi who is a master in rescuing things  before the final day of castaway arrives, felt she could eek some more time out of it by planting those violas in them. The Irish forget-me-nots came up as an extra reward from nowhere for her gallant efforts.

The azure-blue pot with the cyclamen was made by a potter friend whom we knew from the days our children were still in prams and nappies. As far as we know she might still do pottery. She had a rather unique way of throwing her pots, with dabbing the different colours around in a kind of haphazard way which makes her pottery so outstanding. We have many of her works and going back in the photo gallery much of our containers, vases, dishes bearing fruit, pencils and keys, or other odds and ends are her art works.

The plate on which the cyclamen pot resides is from the Finnish ‘Arabia’ collection. Many of the Arabia ceramic plates survive. They are more than just beautiful but also because fired to a high temperature making them very durable. In a second hand or junk shop one sometimes sees them displayed for a price that it is obvious the owners are not aware of their beauty let alone of their value.  One has to be generous though, it could also be a case whereby they come to rest in a junk shop because of a ‘Deceased Estate.’

I just thought to let you share  in this rather lovely floral scene. The glass of wine is almost an obligatory part of many afternoons when we sit outside and feel a real and better world.  Just sitting there it seemed the violets were looking at me directly. Perhaps they wanted to be noticed and that’s (perhaps) why this picture was taken.

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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.

 

The police, all geared with revolver, baton, capsicum spray…

October 30, 2016
The sun is out.

The sun is out.

The plot thickens. The police turned up as promised after we attended the local Police Station. The Déjà vu feelings accompanying our second reportage of our stolen pot plants did not escape Helvi or me. Visiting Police Stations again? Is this now becoming a ritual in our retirement? The policewoman behind the counter remembered us well. To have potted plants stolen twice within a few weeks was a bit out of the usual, she admitted. How did you go with the sensor lights? ‘Well they worked but did not deter anyone,’ The thief must have got well lit, we answered. She nodded and asked which plants got stolen and the value. ‘Cyclamen, the same as last time but not in ceramic pots.’ ‘They were housed in those white plastic mixing bowls.’ Now I know what happened to my bowl I used for pan-cake mixing, I added. This anecdote to pancakes made the policewoman smile. Perhaps she too understands pancake making and grandkids. It showed a rarely seen but warm human side to the police force. The total value would have been around $ 50.- or so, we said. They had flowered so beautifully since the last theft of the previous cyclamens. They too were stolen at the peak of their lives.

‘It’s really the threatening letter left in our letterbox more than the stolen plants which we take more seriously.’ And with a flourish I showed her the note that asked us to ‘stop bullying or sell up,’ signed by ‘owners.’ ‘This was left in our letterbox,’ we added for good measure, and emphasized the threat to our wellbeing in urging us to sell up and move. ‘At our age, we don’t easily move as when we were young,’ we demurred. We pointed out the second plant stealing must be connected. The reason for this bullying was complex. They always are of a human nature unable to give and take. I gave the policewoman some short snippets of how I fared for about twenty minutes as secretary of our Shared Housing Complex, the Body Corporate, after refusing to engage perfectly good neighbours in guerrilla warfare about parking cars.

I assume that my refusal to engage in neighbourly fights must have been the catalyst in this bullying letter-box note and subsequent plant thefts, I added, with some earlier practise in using the word ‘catalyst.’. Getting-on with neighbours is clearly not in the world that our chairperson resides. ‘So much time on hands, yet so little time left to sow seeds of misery, unhinge others,’ I told the policewoman. I thought it prudent to add a little earthly philosophy now, encouraged by her recognition to the earlier pancake bowl reference. ‘The main suspect is 84, and probably on her final few years.’ She is on borrowed time. What drives this woman to do this?

We could tell that the policewoman now wanted to wrap this up. We felt, that the essence of our concerns of the bullying, was understood. ‘We will make a report and the police will visit you in the next hour or so.’ After that we thanked the nice police woman and hurried to get some shopping done. I needed to buy some aspirin which I take on a daily basis. The taking of aspirin and a wine or beer are my only drug habits. I resist seeing doctors, and so far so good.

We drove home and once again looked at the little table outside now looking forlorn and empty of the cyclamen. We went inside and fiddled around a bit waiting for the policeman’s arrival. We were not disappointed. He arrived fully decked out as if on an Isis terrorist mission. Gun in holster, baton at the ready, canisters of what we assumed to be deadly sprays, incapacitating even the most hardened psychological disturbed maniac.

He made a report and told us he would go and question the 84 year old neighbour woman, the main suspect of the bullying note and organiser of the continuing theft of our loved cyclamen plants. The report has a number for future reference.

I will keep you, dear readers, informed.

Whitby-Peterborough-Rotterdam-Bruxelles-Sydney.

April 10, 2015

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The stay in London’s Shepherd’s Bush was during the time Holland won a World soccer cup or European soccer cup. Sport is not my forte, apart from a short stint of basket- ball playing, I generally have always ran away if a ball of any shape threatens to roll towards me. Of course at my age now, balls have given up all hope and never roll towards me anymore.

My Australian friend was really English and he suggested I could spend some time with his mum. His dad had died a few years earlier. Her name was Maureen and was living in Yorkshire’s Whitby and had worked as a Magistrate dealing with difficult English youth. The English seem to specialise in rearing difficult children. Already then, whenever a soccer match was being played on the Euro continent, the police forces were marshalled in by the thousands and lists of banned English fans were already in the making.

After a farewell to Lord and daily English bread pudding we took a train and after introduction to my friend’s mum settled in at a spare room at Maureen’s charming cottage at Whitby. She was a very chatty and jovial person and she drove me many times to places of interest. It included the beautiful East coast up and down from Whitby and of course we had ‘real smoked’ kippers for breakfast while viewing Whitby Abbey during lunch.

Whitby or Robin Hood Bay?

Whitby or Robin Hood Bay?

A few years before Maureen’s husband had died he had left her to live with a French women. According to Maureen they met while enjoying a week’s  stay in a Yorkshire -Dale bed and breakfast high up one of those breathtakingly beautiful hill tops that the area was so famous for. I had already heard this sad story of her husband’s philandering way with a ‘French woman’ from her son. He was less accommodating and reckons his dad had the happiest few years of his all too soon end of  life. ‘My mother nagged him to death’ was the rather merciless opinion about his mother. Even so, I was given the opposite story from Maureen.

During their stay in that B&B the father met this French lady who was asking for directions. Maureen told me that soon after many bottles of French wine were bought by her husband who, according to Maureen was much more of a beer drinker. I heard that a much clearer sign of husbands’ infidelities are the mysterious appearances of brand new underpants. No new underpants in Whitby though! She did not think much about it till out of the blue, he just left her to live in France with the French woman, leaving the French wine in her cellar next to her car.

She was still totally overwrought with this as we sat around for the few evenings I was there, she asked me if I minded drinking the French wine that her ex-husband had bought at the beginning of the ‘affaire’. “I can’t stand the sight of those French wine bottles” she added ever so sadly. It was amazing that her husband had so abruptly left his wife and mother of children on a whim, just like that! As we kept up the French wine drinking, she kept repeating her surprise and anger interspersed with much love and devotion for her husband still lingering after the passing years and his early death, in the words flooding out with tears of unrelenting bitterness and so much regret;  a conjuring act between much love lost and hatred fanned. Are they really that close?

A bay somewhere on the East Coast of Yorkshire.

A bay somewhere on the East Coast of Yorkshire.

After a few days with Maureen, listening to woes of a lost marriage while drinking her ex-husband’s, ( deceased and buried) French wine I ended up cooking her a nice tuna pasta before saying goodbye, and caught a train to York. After wandering and some sight-seeing I suffered terrifying pangs of being on my own, decided to return to Holland and Helvi and caught a train to Peterborough, booked a bus-ferry-train to Rotterdam-Nijverdal and stayed there with my mum as well. So that’s two mums within a bit more than a week.

The whole trip away from Helvi all took place with just a bit over three to four weeks. Before going home to Helvi and family, I travelled by train to Brussels of which the reason why, I have forgotten. It was a wonderful visit and as someone pointed out afterwards, the world’s best restaurants are found there. My money was short so I  used to walk around the streets of cafes and restaurants and just tried the fare for free, offered by the waiters standing outside the restaurants for passers- by to try out. I tried not to overdo this in case they started to recognize me (the third time around) as some kind of free- loader if not a vagabond. I especially liked the way some expert cook  had done the mussels on toast.

Brussels restaurants

Brussels restaurants

From there back to Sydney and my Helvi. On return she reckoned the state of my underwear was ‘scandalous!’

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Coffee for two.

March 10, 2014
coffee for two

coffee for two

“Coffee dear, here it is darling. Sleep well?” “Yes, like an angel. How’s the day looking?”. “Oh, a bit pale.” “Trust you to come up with a limp answer, cheer up Gerard, you’re not dead yet.” “Easier said than done.”

This is the normal start of most days. A kind of repeat routine doing the rounds at millions of households. A waking up ritual all over the world. Of course amongst us retirees there is no urgency to jump out. They are not getting ready for the 6.45am bus and train to work like most people. We are wearing the laurels of well earned rewards of having caught trains and buses to work for decades. We can now sleep in.

I remember well the silence of workers in transit to work. Especially Monday mornings. Boy, was it glum. I, on the other hand was always happy for a Monday to arrive. I used to smile on Monday mornings. Sundays in my suburban outfit of western Sydney was unbelievably dull. It was more than dull. It was deliberately dead and limp. They were joy-killer of days.

The demon of Noontide was never so strong as on Sunday’s Australian suburbia in the nineteen fifties up till the first coffee lounge opened on a Sunday some decades later. It was a true revolution. Unbelievably, drinking beverages in public on Sunday did not strike down anyone, despite dire warnings from the saviours of our morals from Sunday pulpits…Shaking the Rev. Murphy’s hand after the service would be as exciting as it could possibly get on most Sundays.

We don’t want those dirty European habits to come to our shores, some shouted still in the late nineties. I remember a true to her tea doily Anglo lady complaining about all those ‘loafers’ sitting around sipping a latte on a Sunday. True enough. They should be mowing the lawn or clear the gutters while repenting lusting after some illicit and unlawful joy.

Even today, remnants of those feverously restrictive practices are still around us. Alcohol drinks can only be bought at ‘licensed’ premises. It is not as if you can buy a bottle of wine together with a packet of butter. The binge drinking excesses here might well be a result of never really having been at ease with joy and leisure with friends around. I remember buying wine for my mother at the greengrocer in Holland when I was 15. No one thought it was anything special. The last time we travelled back to Holland it was not unusual for a trolley to be wheeled through the trains offering coffee with croissants as well as a Heineken and a rookworst.
I doubt it could ever be possible here, even today.

The local train Bowral to Sydney taking two hours, doesn’t have water on board unless you want to drink from the toilet tap! I don’t know what tourists make of our abstemious beverage habits on public transport. I suppose on the Afghan train, Adelaide – Darwin, a distance of almost 3000kms, there surely would be a cafeteria on board or are tourists expected to bring their own jam sandwiches and cater for hydration needs?

How’s the coffee this morning, dear? Nice and strong? I did not sugar it!
Yes, it’s good. How’s yours? Good too. Very good. Oh, that’s good! Good.