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Displaced Persons

24 Jul

The other day when I was awake in bed for a while, my thoughts went to the refugees from the Eastern Ukraine. I remembered pictures of women and children in Russian refugee camps. One woman had said she wanted to stay in Russia for a limited time only so that when the fighting stops she would be able  to go back to her home town in the Ukraine. Some people may have dual citizenship. These people are of course allowed to stay in Russia indefinitely, others would have to apply for permanent residency if they want to stay in Russia.

For sure it is not a very pleasant experience to have to live in a refugee camp for weeks on end. Who knows when there is going to be peace again in these places where Ukrainians are fighting the insurgents?

TIME FOR UKRAINE TO DIVIDE? The following is an extract of an article by Paul Sheehan in the Sydney Morning Herald from 2014, July 20th:

It is more than 20 years since the orderly, democratic, bloodless dissolution of Czechoslovakia took place on January 1, 1993, when the Czech Republic and Slovakia came into being as two sovereign nations. Like Ukraine, this was a nation divided with geographic neatness between language and ethnicity.

Read more:


Here is another example where a two state solution ought to be possible and why this did not happen so far:

This is taken from an ABC Australia National program called Rear Vision.




Israel, Palestine and the problem with the two-state solution

Tuesday 22 July 2014 4:51PM
Annabelle Quince

With Israeli troops on the ground in Gaza and casualties rising, international attention is once again focused on the Middle East peace process. The two-state solution is generally accepted as the blueprint to end the decades-old conflict, but intractable issues and deep mistrust remain on both sides, writes Annabelle Quince. 

If it wasn’t clear before this week, the Middle East peace process is in tatters. Israel has launched a ground invasion of Gaza, resulting in the deaths of more than 500 Palestinians and around 20 Israelis.

. . . . . .


‘The majority of the people in Israel do accept the notion of a Palestinian state, but we suspect that most Palestinians don’t accept the notion of a Jewish state. This is the problem,’ says Eiland.

‘Everybody understands that what Clinton proposed nine years ago is probably the only practical solution if we are based on the two-state solution. In other words, it is not only that the concept is well known, but also the details are well-known. So if it is so important to solve the problem, if the concept is acceptable and if the details are so well-known, what is the problem? Why both parties don’t sit together and sign an agreement, and here is the paradox, both parties don’t do it because this solution is not really desired by both sides.’

‘The maximum that the government of Israel, any government of Israel, can offer the Palestinians, is less, much less, than the minimum that any possible Palestinian leader can accept. The gap between both sides is much bigger than the way that it is perceived. Everybody is committed to say that he is committed to this solution, but no-one really, really means it.’

Which leaves the peace process where it is today, mired in mistrust and nearly a century’s worth of grievances, with the blood of both soldiers and civilians flowing once again.

Rear Vision puts contemporary events in their historical context, answering the question, ‘How did it come to this?’

Short Story Writing and a bit of Musing

17 Jul

In the past I stuck mainly to journal or diary writing, or I tried to come to grips with some of my childhood memories. Only occasionally did I resort to fiction writing in the form of a short story. As far as my reading tastes are concerned I must say, in my younger days I always preferred reading novels: Only occasionally would I read a short story.

These days the time I spend  reading novels seems to be getting less and less, even though I still like novels a lot. Today for instance I spent half an hour reading a short story. It turned out I did very much love this story. It was a story I had been reading many years ago and I could still remember the subject of this story since this is a subject that interests me very much: What happens to a mother when she is suddenly widowed?

Barbara, one of my neighbours, is the author of this story titled “For better or worse”. Many years ago Barbara won a local award for this story. As I said I could still remember having read this story. I asked Barbara the other day, whether she is still writing. I told her how I remembered this story of hers. The mother in the story moves in with the daughter´s family after her husband died. She lives with the daughter, son-in-law and their two children for several months. In the end she decides, it is better to move on. Living together all the time is just not the right thing and brings about serious tensions in the family.

In the story we learn that the daughter is not at all like the mother. The daughter is more easy going whereas the mother as a very tidy person. This reminds me how all my children are very different from me. I am definitely not a very tidy person. None of my daughters nor my son are extraordinarily tidy either, but they are easy going in lots of different ways, not the way I am, not at all. Living with any one of them I can imagine might lead to frustrations all around. I just cannot imagine to live with any of them indefinitely. Maybe if there was a granny flat, it could work out?!

Well, I am fortunate, that my husband is still alive. God willing, we may still have quite a few years together. We live in a three bedroom house, called a villa, for it is in a corporate housing complex. There is a master bedroom, a guest bedroom and the third one is a computer room but can also be made into a bedroom. Our living room has an extension sofa for overnight guests. I always love to have family staying overnight at our place. We call ourselves lucky that we can make room like this for overnight guests.

Several women who used to live in our complex, eventually moved away after their husbands died.  They live now in retirement villages. Another neighbour, who was recently widowed, keeps thinking that she might want to move too. She is a very tidy person. She feels, the effort to keep her place and surroundings in the condition that she is used to, might become too much for her with advancing age.

Some years ago I wrote a fictional short story about a hostel for the aged. I used to have a friend in a hostel like this. This hostel was a very beautiful place on top of a hill with terrific views towards the ocean. In the beginning my friend loved her stay there. She was still mobile enough to go on outings with some of the other residents. Over the years she aged a lot and did not feel like going out any more. It turned out the people in that hostel who ended up needing nursing care, could often not be transferred to a nursing home because of bed shortages there. It was sad to see residents, who required constant nursing care, struggle on in the hostel where it became more and more difficult for the staff to look after all these feeble residents. In the hostel was not enough staff for nursing care. A lot of the residents were just sitting around all day, half dazed and not being able to participate in the life that was going on around them!

Originally I thought I would not mind spending my final days in a hostel like this with my own room and private facilities. But a nursing home? Oh, I hope it will not come to this. I hope that I can die before I need a nursing home. On the other hand, a person who is that far gone, maybe does not really mind too much to have to stay in a nursing home.


A Reblog from 22nd of July 2013

17 Jul

Last  year  Gerard Oosterman  published this blog


“Australia’s Dilemma with Boat-people baffling the World”


I just came across this blog and ended up reading some of the comments with Gerards replies.  I think nothing much has changed since last year. We still have this terrible dilemma.

 Responses to “Australia’s Dilemma with Boat-people baffling the World”

  1. auntyuta Says:
    Why? Is it because we feel our way of life being threatened?
    Do we not spend billions to ‘protect’ our borders? What if this money or at least part of it could be spent to provide some simple housing for asylum seekers. What if we let these people work to build houses, infrastructure and to produce nourishing food, as well as build schools and do training of teachers for children as well as adults to learn English? Does anyone think these people are not capable of doing a day’s work? Why let them rot in camps without being able to work? It doesn’t make sense to me.
    There are many jobs in Australia that are nearly exclusively done by recent migrants from Asia and Africa. They are willingly and gladly doing these jobs for little pay which other Australians are not willing to do anymore!
    How much do people pay these so called people smugglers? Why don’t we go to Indonesia and tell these people instead of giving this money to people smugglers they can deposit it with an Australian Bank. Then they only have to apply for residence in Australia and in due time the Australian government is going to transport them to this country of their choice at no cost to them? If the application is not successful for some reason (maybe because they cannot provide sufficient papers?) then they can withdraw their saved money at any time. At least the the people smugglers would not get the money and these people would not risk being drowned at sea or their application not being successful after a hazardous journey. When Peter and I applied for migration to Australia from Germany in 1959 we were asked to come for an interview to the Australian embassy in Cologne. We had to bring our two babies along too when we talked to the Australian officer.
    Why cannot the same thing be done with prospective migrants in Indonesia?


    • gerard oosterman Says:
      Of course many could be settled here very comfortably. The political parties just use the boat people for political ends, whipping up xenophobia.
      Anyway, it seems the liberals have been snookered by the ALP in their own game. I think your idea to advice people to invest the money going to smugglers into an Australian Bank instead an excellent idea. It take an (ex) German to come up with practical workable solutions!  :)


      • auntyuta Says:
        He, he, Gerard, this remains to be seen if anything like this would meet any government’s criteria!
        I just read what barrister and human rights advocate Julian Burnside has to say. He says boat arrivals are less than 0,7% of all yearly arrivals. To keep one person in detention for one year costs 200,000 $ in our cities and more then twice this in outback centres or off shore places. (I reckon Papua New Guinea might be a lot cheaper!)
        Burnside says after one month for security and health checks asylum seekers should be released into the community allowing them to work or to receive Centrelink benefits, settling them in regional centres who would gladly welcome the influx of people to these reginal towns who struggle to survive.


    • gerard oosterman Says:
      Yes, that would be common sense. But common sense seems to be in short supply. The difficulty seems to be to turn around peoples perception that the boat people numbers are not large, they are miniscule. It is not a real problem for such a country of ‘boundless plains’.


  2. roughseasinthemed Says:
    Can’t believe the white Australia policy is still going on. Amazing. I remember it from years back when my uncle was a ten pound pom and my partner and some of his mates from South Wales went in the late 70s. Then, to be fair, it did change and Redfern became full of Vietnamese.It’s one of the ironies of life that big countries are invariably underpopulated and small ones overpopulated. A generalisation, but living in the fifth most densely populated territory in the world, one that applies to me. If you look at Europe, Belgium, Netherlands, and to a lesser extent, the UK, are all relatively high up the list. Spain less so, like Australia, it has vast areas of country that have no people.

    When you start to look at bigger countries with a high population density, Bangla Desh comes first, followed by India, and then China. Bangla Desh isn’t that big, just the biggest that hits six figures in sq kms in the top 20. India makes top 50, and China is 83 in the rankings. The rest of the big countries are way down the list.

    Having said all that PNG is pretty low on the list 209, compared with Australia at 233.


    • gerard oosterman Says:
      The original White Australian Policy was abandoned officially in the seventies. The population now is very mixed and from just about all over the world, that’s why it is so ludicrous to be so worried about boat people in desperation trying to come here. We should be worried about their drowning but this is not the main concern which is a way over the top whipping up of xenophobia, being overrun by hordes of Afghans or Iranians, etc.
      We went to those countries waging dubious wars that made millions of refugees. When some in desperation try and come to Australia risking their lives, we make out as if they have evil intentions for Australia
      . Terrible.


      • roughseasinthemed Says:
        I should have added that every year there is an influx of raft people from Africa trying to get to Spain and thence to northern Europe for a better life. Or just anywhere really.What so-called developed countries (ie greedy capitalist ones) should do, is put some reasonable infrastructure in instead of going to war for oil, leaving the place a dog’s breakfast, and consider more environmental moves. In my dreams.


  3. berlioz1935 Says:
    Gerard, you are painting a good picture of the history of post-war immigration into Australia and the present sad state of affairs.Even the language they are using explaining the new measurements are offensive, like “this country has enough”. What about PNG? They soon will have enough of the asylum seekers.

    The “boat people” will get a culture shock. Perhaps this is intended. You are right, it can’t be the number of people that come. There is plenty of land that can be populated.

    You say, Australia is a huge country and “small” parts of it are as big as European countries. The problem with Australians is they have no idea how huge Australia is. When they go to school and they see a map of Australia the map is the same size as the map of any other country. Since we have no neighbours here we have no way comparing our country with another.

    The numbers in boat arrivals are minuscule. If we are worried about the drowning, as they say, they should go to Indonesia and pick the recognised refugees up and bring them here. I wrote to PM Gillard but got no response.

    When we came to Australia they came and picked us up (assisted migrants) and we were economic migrants. We all want a better life, what is wrong with that? Didn’t the Angle-Saxon go to Britain for a better life?

    Contracting out the asylum seekers is cheaper. To hell with the consequences for them and the people of PNG. The shock of the new measure “might” do the trick and it will reduce the boat arrivals.

    And you asked, why? Because we stole the country in the first place and we don’t want to share it with others. The population has increased despite ourselves. We are racist, but we will not admit it.


  4. gerard oosterman Says:
    Yes Berlioz 1935.
    Back in those days the Australian Government were advertising overseas to try and entice people to migrate. Now many are coming out of a much greater need. The need to survive and escape terrible wars.
    I can’t believe some of the dreadful comments in the media. Many boat people have drowned and are still drowning and it is made out as if this is some ploy by them to gain a better outcome or more sympathy.
  5. And on it goes . . . .

In Memory of Gaby

15 Jul
Gaby died two years ago on the 15th of July 2012

Gaby died two years ago on the 15th of July 2012

This drawing of Gaby is from 2011 and was done by JohnNott in the Parramatta Mall in front of the Town Hall. Gaby gave us this copy of the original. When we cleaned up Gaby’s house, we could not find the original any more.

Ilse came to visit us in 1999

14 Jul
18th of April 1999 in front of Sydney Opera House

18th of April 1999 in front of Sydney Opera House. David took this picture.

The 18th of April 1999 was the day when we travelled by Ferry Boat from Parramatta to Sydney (Circular Quay). Peter’s sister Ilse was with us She was still sad, because her husband, Klaus, had died the previous year. However, she liked to stay with us for a while. After a two months visit she went back to Berlin with the promise to visit us again.

The 18th of April 1998 happened to be the birthday of Klaus, his last one before he died. So on the Ferry on that day a year later Ilse could not help but thinking that it was the anniversary of the birthday of Klaus and how he would have loved this Ferry trip too.

Gaby and David were with us on that boat. David went straight away to the front deck after boarding and stayed outside for the whole trip. Ilse and I stayed inside with Gaby who was in her wheelchair, of course. Peter went backwards and forwards all the time taking pictures.


The Opera House is already in sight, so Circular Quay is not far away any more.

The Opera House is already in sight, so Circular Quay is not far away any more.

In March 1999, soon after Ilse had arrived from Germany, we went with her to visit Gaby at her place in Merrylands West. This is where she met David too for the first time.



This is probably a more recent photo when Gaby was about fifty years old.

This is probably a more recent photo when Gaby was about fifty years old.

Caroline’s Message on Facebook for Peter

13 Jul
Gelato de Messina

Gelato de Messina

For you and Mama. Reminds me of the day we were wandering throughout the botanical gardens with Matthew and decided “to go in search of gelato” 

“When someone is seeking it happens quite easily that she only sees the thing that she is seeking; that she is unable to find anything, unable to absorb anything, because she is only thinking of the thing she is seeking, because she has a goal, because she is obsessed with her goal. Seeking means to have a goal; but finding means: to be free, to be receptive, to have no goal.” Siddhartha, Herman Hesse
I, Uta, asked Peter to send me Caroline’s message. I think Caroline chose this passage from Hermann Hesse’s SIDDHARTHA very well. Thank you very much for this, Caroline. I too remember that day when we were wandering throughout the Botanic Gardens in Sydney. I actually enjoyed our walk very much. Finding a place for buying gelato? It was not to be, not in the Botanic Gardens anyway. Then we looked around near the Opera House. However the area was much too crowded for our liking. So we went on. In the end Matthew and Caroline led us to their favourite gelato shop. This made us very happy. I think we did have a great day!
I can see that it would have been very bad to be obsessed with this goal of getting gelato. I admit, I was on the lookout for it. Had we been able to find some in the Botanic Gardens, I am sure we would have enjoyed that too. None the less, I very much loved  this walk, I really did. And as it turned out, having to wait for the gelato a  bit longer, made it even more special when I finally did get some of this very delicious home made on the premises gelato.
I say, it is always worth waiting for GELATO DE MESSINA, made on the premises in Victoria Street! :-)

With Love from Gaby, Dave, Bonnie & Clyde

12 Jul


Gaby came down with poliomyelitis on her fourth birthday. That was in 1961. When she was 32, in 1989, she left institutional care and moved into her own home in Merrylands West, a Western suburb of Sydney. David (Dave) became her full time carer. But as a quadriplegic with breathing difficulties who needed to sleep in an iron lung, she needed several people to come in on a daily basis to look after her diverse needs.

Anyhow, Gaby was happy to leave the home for disabled people and move into her own home. 40 year old David did for nearly twenty years a marvellous job in doing whatever he could for Gaby. But in the end his health deteriorated more and more. It became impossible for him to the the things for Gaby he would normally have to do as her carer. It was a rather sad situation. Gaby knew that David needed help but she did not know how to provide this for him.

Gaby and David both loved animals. Soon after moving in Gaby acquired a companion dog provided by the people who train dogs for blind people. Dave liked that dog too. They called her Bonnie. A cat named Clyde became Bonnie’s companion. Gaby just adored her animals. They were like her children. She always saw to it that they had everything they needed.

Gaby with Bonnie

Gaby with Bonnie

Gaby with Clyde

Gaby with Clyde

Bonnie and Clyde in front of the gas heater

Bonnie and Clyde in front of the gas heater


Bonnie is being spoiled!

Bonnie is being spoiled!

I happen to have still a Christmas card from Gaby and Dave with a calendar for 1998 in it. The card came with a book: A Tolstoy biography by A.N. Wilson, first published in Great Britain in 1988. This is a great reference book and a great read. Gaby chose this book for me as a Christmas gift. She did choose very well. She always took great care to choose gifts for all the family for birthdays and for Christmas. Of course her funds were limited. So she always looked for bargains. Quite often her choices were astoundingly good.

This is the outside of the card.

This is the outside of the Christmas card.

And this is the inside of it.

And this is the inside of it.

Gaby moved her electric chair with her chin, she used her mouth stick for phone and computer.

Gaby moved her electric chair with her chin, she used her mouth stick for phone and computer.

Here she looks like having grown up a bit more.

Here she looks like having grown up a bit more.

Here she is in her bedroom getting ready for the day.

Here she is in her bedroom getting ready for the day.

After Gaby lost Clyde, she did get a new kitten.

After Gaby lost Clyde, she did get a new kitten.

Blackie, the kitten, grew into this.

Blackie, the kitten, grew into this.

Gaby is having fun seeing Father Christmas.

Gaby is having fun seeing Father Christmas.

Sadly Gaby lost Bonnie. She was lucky that after some time she was given a replacement dog which she called ‘Honey’.  Honey was quite skinny at first but soon filled out a bit.

Gaby can celebrate Christmas 2003 with companion dog Honey.

Gaby can celebrate Christmas 2003 with companion dog Honey.

Are first born Children bossy?

7 Jul

I am a first born one, and as someone with two younger brothers I probably always tended to be bossy.   Peter, my husband of more than 57 years, is a third born one. He claims his two older sisters used to boss him around. He always lets me know in no uncertain terms that he very much resents being bossed around by me. I have to be very careful in what I am saying to him;  it can often be interpreted as an ‘order’ even if it is meant as a suggestion only.  I have the feeling Peter always  fears that I want to act as though I can make all the decisions. I think he feels immediately like a little boy who can be bossed around the way his sisters used to do it.

So I always want to try my utmost to sound like a person who is not bossy in the least. However no matter how hard I try, more often than not I come across to Peter as wanting to be bossy! It used to distress me a lot when I was younger. With advancing age these relationship difficulties don’t seem to be the end of the world anymore. I think old age teaches us to try to be more tolerant and accepting. And of course for as long as there is love in the relationship any frustration can be overcome!

Family Pictures

3 Jul






RIMG0088 (2)




Jenni, our neighbour,  gave us this tealight tower.

Jenni, our neighbour, gave us this tealight tower.



Thursday, 3rd of July 2014

Today we did get a surprise visist by Monika and family. All the pictures are todays pictures. Peter took some and I also took some. Caroline and Matthew were with us too. Sorry, nobody thought of taking pictures of them too. Krystal isn’t in any of the pictures, also Peter is missing in any of them. Ebony is in the background of the picture with Lucas.

It was so nice to have visitors! It was also great to have Caroline and Matthew with us for a while. I kept talking about our trip to Sussex Inlet in a few weeks. There’s going to be a special family meeting at Sussex Inlet for one weekend. Family from Melbourne and Newcastle are going to be with us too. I hope we’re going to have plenty of sunshine during our Sussex Inlet weekend. We are probably going to be about sixteen people  for this family meeting. The family booked four units already. Each unit  is for four people. There’s also an annex with every unit which can be used for additional people.

Do we have a Right to the Truth?

18 Jun

“When it comes to controlling human beings there is no better instrument than lies. Because, you see, humans live by beliefs. And beliefs can be manipulated. The power to manipulate beliefs is the only thing that counts.”
― Michael Ende. The Never-ending Story
“If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.”
Joseph Goebbels said it. Adolf Hitler re phrased it.
‘When you tell a lie you deny the other person’s right to the truth
John Lord”

I took the above quotes from an article by John Lord from the THE AIM NETWORK (AUSTRALIAN INDEPENDENT MEDIA NETWORK):


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