50th and 55th

Last Saturday we were invited to a 50th birthday party. I took a few pictures, but unfortunately they are not ready for publishing yet.

It so happened that at the party all of our daughters and quite a few grandchildren were present. And we did get the good news, that another great-grandchild is on the way! So that means our daughter Monika is going to be a grandma first time around. She was thrilled about the news. I think she had been longing for a long time to become a grandma. She’s going to be 53 next week. Her partner is the one who turned 50 and in his honour the big party had been organised. They did not have a barbecue this time, but Monika had prepared lots of delicious finger-food. There was enough to eat for everyone. And Mark, the birthday-guy, had engaged a disc-jockey, who had set himself up in one of the big garages. In the other connecting garage all the food was later served. The disc-jockey played nearly non-stop from 7 pm to midnight!

When we arrived towards 8 pm Monika very enthustically let me know that she had ordered a couple of songs especially for me. It nearly blew me away when soon after ‘Rock around the clock’ was played. Nobody danced. Young and old were scattered around the backyard, sitting on garden chairs around huge garden tables or standing with drinks in hand,  talking to each other. Mark had shown me before  where the music was and he and the disc-jockey had obliged to pose for me for a picture. When I heard the sounds of ‘Rock around the Clock’ I immediately found my way back to where the music was. As I said, nobody danced. So I had the dance-floor all to myself!

Later on I danced with Peter to the sounds of Glenn Miller music. Still nobody else danced. Anyhow, I had had my fun. After that my old bones needed a rest. Not so Peter. He continued dancing with a few younger women once a few people had finally appeared on the dance-floor. The music was beat, beat, beat and extremely loud. I found a conversation was impossible! I enjoyed the balmy night, taking some pictures here and there, resting for a while on a chair outside; then getting up again and making a few movements to the music. The noise was easier to bear when I was able to do a few dance movements by following the beat.

I watched the dancers in the garage from outside and took pictures. Mark’s slim, tall, blond daughter and her boyfriend were by far the best dancers. It was a joy to watch them. I saw none of Monika’s three daughters dancing. The youngest one and her girlfriend were giggling a lot when they saw me dancing! We went home soon after 10 pm, after all the birthday-cake ceremonies were finished. Maybe some more people, who hadn’t danced before, started dancing later on.

Our youngest daughter, who turns 33  a few days after Monika’s birthday, went home with us, feeling quite sick. Her partner stayed overnight at our place too. He had to leave early on Sunday morning to go back to Sydney to work. Daughter Caroline still felt too sick and couldn’t go to Sydney with him. We took her back to her place in Sydney on Monday morning when she felt a bit better. Sunday night, when she still hadn’t felt all right and hadn’t been able to eat anything for twenty-four hours we took her to our Medical Centre at half past nine, where a doctor was still in attendance. He advised her not to eat anything till she felt better and then only eat dry toast with honey. He told her to drink plenty of water, but only boiled water. He said he had a few people seeing him that evening with similar symptoms. Apparently it was a virus.

After having delivered Caroline back home we went on to a newly opened IKEA shop for lunch. We had Swedish meatballs. Simply delicious! Then on to Fairfield, one of the Western suburbs of Sydney. Gaby, our eldest daughter, was to meet us there. Gaby had managed on Saturday night to get two of her carers to take her to Mark’s party. By the time she got back home with her carers and put to bed, it was close to 3 am!

Now to the 55. This refers to Peter’s and my wedding anniversary. We invited the family to have lunch with us in Parramatta (another Western Sydney suburb) on Sunday, 18th December. This is not just for the wedding anniversary but also a pre Christmas celebration. This year the family cannot come to our place on Christmas Eve.They are all upset about this. To spend Christmas Eve at our place has been a long held tradition. It saddens them that this year is going to be different.

On the 23rd of December Peter and I  are off to Melbourne to stay with our son, Martin. On Monday the 26th of December we’ll be off  to the holiday cottage at the beach. This is were we’ll be celebrating the start of 2012.

This year is coming to an end. It has been a very eventful year again.

‘You gotta have balls’

This is the title of a novel by Lily Brett. This very funny novel was first published in Australia in 2005. One character in the book is a buxom sixty-something woman who came from Poland to New York and loves to cook meat-balls. She tends to feel hot while she’s doing the cooking. This is why she stands in her kitchen in her beautiful, elegant bra with just an apron on top of it.

After my morning walk I felt hot again and had to strip down to my bra. I helped hubby in the kitchen with the breakfast dishes and didn’t even wear an apron on top of it! When I do this sort of thing, I’m always reminded of that boxum woman in the book.

Lily Brett is an Australian writer and lives with her Australian painter husband, David Rankin, in New York.

Paul Keating Event

The Sydney Writers’ Festival organised an event at the City Recital Hall, Angel Place, with Paul Keating. He was Australia’s Prime Minister from 1991 to 1996.  A  book with some of his recent speeches had been published. Kerry O’Brian interviewed Keating on Sunday afternoon, October 30th, about the speeches in this book. The hall was packed full with 1250 people. After the talk Keating was available for signing his book which was for sale in the lobby.

Peter and I enjoyed to listen to what Keating had to say. Afterwards we strolled through Martin Place in the CBD. We took a picture of the old Commonwealth Bank building. Right in front of it was a betting tent where people would be able to place their bets for Melbourne Cup Day. Race Number 7 on Melbourne Cup Day is the most famous. It is said that this is the race which stops the nation!  For this race even Peter and I always place a bet. Melbourne Cup Day is on the first Tuesday in November. So this year the race was already on the 1st of November!

Sculptures by the Sea

Every year at around this time you can view on the walk from Bondi Beach to Tamarama Beach an exhibition of ‘sculptures by the sea’.

We went by train from Dapto to Bondi Junction, where we met our daughter. From Bondi Junction going on the bus it wasn’t far to Bondi Beach, where we started our walk.View onto Sydney's Bondi Beach

Childhood Memories

              The Spickermann Family and Uncle Alfred

Mum used to say: ‘Everyone in the Spickermann Family is useless except for one, and that is Grandfather. He is the only one who works hard and has achieved something. Everyone else in the family just likes to laze about, talking stupid things and not doing any work.’

I also remember Grandfather Joseph saying of my mother: ‘Lotte is a very good worker. Oleg should be very grateful for having such a good looking and hard working, smart wife.’

For Grandmother Hilda my Mum had absolutely no kind word. She thought that Grandmother should make a bit of an effort to keep up with Grandfather. And why could she not look after her appearance a bit better? Surely with the position that Grandfather held, she should attempt to be a bit more representative looking! Instead she let herself go and was just a housewife and mother. And why for heaven’s sake did she have to spend all morning in the kitchen when she had two maids to do the cooking for her!

I cannot remember whether Mum ever commented on the competency of Dad’s younger sister Lies, who single handedly would manage a large estate when her husband Alfred had had once again too much to drink and needed some time off for recovery. I seem to remember that in a way she admired Alfred for always being able to recover after some extensive drinking bouts. He was a very tall, strong man. Mum said: ‘He could drink a real lot before adverse health effects were noticeable. Then, when he felt he could not go on any longer, he stopped drinking altogether and lived for a while just on milk until he felt all right again.’

I remember several Spickermanns debating the tough fate their sister Lies had to suffer. How Alfred’s drinking habits effected the children, especially the eldest son Horst. All this happened when the Spickermann Family still lived in Lodz, which was called Litzmannstadt at the time. Horst would have been less than nine years old then.

As far as I know, Alfred ended up in the army before the end of the war. After the war he often talked about it how well he had been treated as a prisoner on the Island of Guernsey. He kept saying what a good life he had had on this island. It sticks in my memory that the family used to say of him being somewhat ‘anglophil’. When I heard this, I was wondering why on earth they called him this. I think I had enquired about the meaning of the word ‘anglophil’. I thought by myself why anyone could imply there might be something wrong with liking the English ways. I think I always was interested in the way other people lived. I am sure I could very well empathise with someone believing that the German way was not the only way worth living! Why shouldn’t you be able to like aspects of some other culture? It seems to me that this kind of thinking I must have developed rather early.

When Peter and I went on our first visit back to Germany, we saw Auntie Lies and Uncle Alfred, who were both in good health. Alfred died one year later at the age of ninety! Having cut down on his drinking in his later years, he none the less still enjoyed drinking a bottle of wine each day right to the end of his life.

Theatre Production

The other week we saw a terrific theatre production of

Summer of the Seventeenth Doll

at the Belvoir Theatre in Sydney. This Australian play was first produced in November 1955 in Melbourne and made its way from Australia to London and New York under the direction of John Sumner. The play was written by Ray Lawler and was very successful over the years.It was also made into a movie.

The play is set in 1953 in Melbourne. One gets reminded what life was like in Australia in the 1950s. I think it shows especially what women’s life was like in those days. Women should never appear to be too easy going. This was what was expected of them. Unless a woman could get married, she really had no security at all.

The two women in the play had their men only for the five summer months during wich time they aimed at enjoying themselves to the utmost. The rest of the year their men worked as cane-cutters in Queensland. That went on for seventeen years. They never married. Then in the seventeenth year one of the women had just gone off to marry someone else.

So a new woman, a widow in her fortieth, comes into the game. They want to see whether she fits in so they can keep on playing the game of being absolutely happy during the summer months. Somehow it doesn’t work out because the people involved haven’t learned to take on responsibility. They just do not want to grow up. Maybe they think they can  enjoy themselves like that for ever and ever. They never seem to want to grow older. The five months spent together have just become a habit. They are under the delusion that this makes them happy.

Stressful situations like this still exist if partners have to work in different occupations in different countries for part of the year. So I think the play has still relevance today!

We were lucky enough to be at a debriefing last Sunday with the playwright Ray Lawler. He is in his nineties now and a dear old gentleman. He told us much about his life. He started work in a factory at age fourteen. He did the factory work for eleven years. When he started writing, he went to the Melbourne Public Library which opened at 10 in the morning and closed at 10 o’clock at night. It was quiet there, in winter warm and cool enough in summer. He counted himself to be very fortunate that he was able to write in a place like that.

For the said production Belvoir Theatre Company cut a window into the outside wall of the theatre  so that proper lighting could fall onto the stage through this window. That gave the audience the illusion that it was outside either daytime or night-time.

In the photo the two lamps are covered. The lamps are being used for lighting effects durings evening performances.