Biographical Log of Michael Furstner - Page 3

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The Martinshof Story - A Philosophy of Happiness - Life Awareness - Maps & other Text series

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Tuesday January 1, 2008 (bio)

I am trying to think when was the last time I stayed up until midnight at New Years Eve, but can't remember. It was many years ago. What I do remember are the years back in Holland (40s to 60s). There New Years Eve was a cracker night. Weeks beforehand we would save up our pocket money to spend it all on fire crackers and rockets which we bought at the local hardware store. We also made up some ingenious implements ourselves to make explosive bangs with.

Such as an old fashioned door key with a hole in the front of its stem. First fill its hole with phosphorous match head scrapings, then insert the sawn off blunt end of a nail into the hole. Tie one end of a sling rope on the key handle, the other end on the nail head. Now sling this loaded contraption (nail head in front) against a brick wall , and the phosphor inside the key hole explodes with a nice bang.

The other implement is called a donderbus ("thunder box"). It consists of a simple metal container with metal top, a type which is still commonly in use today (by Nescafe, Nestle, etc.). First punch a hole in the center of the bottom of the tin, put some carbyte into the tin, spit on it (causing a chemical reaction which releases inflammable gas), press the lid closed, stick the tin under your foot, then hold a match against the hole in the bottom, and you get a mighty big bang!
In the country we even used the famous large Dutch (30-40 liter ?) metal milk containers for the purpose. They were in fact mighty scary to ignite.

The explosive implements we used throughout most of the December month (I always carried a key banger in my pocket to school), but the purchased fireworks were religiously saved for midnight New Years Eve. Boy was that fun, really worth staying up for. Nowadays, why should you ?

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Wednesday January 2, 2008 (diary, bio, jewelry, food)

Martinshof - 1
This morning I receive the sad news that Annie Dumbar in Holland has died.
When my parents started their jewelry business, in Zutphen in 1936 just after they had married, Annie was one of the two girls they employed as shop girl behind the counter. Years later, in 1949 when my parents started Atelier Martinshof producing and promoting unique handmade jewelry Annie's husband, the award winning goldsmith Archibald Dumbar, became part of the small highly talented Martinshof creative group.

Signet rings by Archie and Chris Both Archie and fellow goldsmith Chris Steenbergen, also part of the group, each won in their time the prestigious European Goldsmith of the Year Award. Both artists and their wives have remained close friends of our family throughout all these years.
My daughter Babette has a signet ring (with engraved family crest) made by Archibald, mine was made by Chris. So through these two small but precious and unique items our close association with them lives on.

Martinshof continues on Jan. 4

Today, like yesterday, it is nothing but grey skies and rain squalls all day. Despite that there is dense traffic on my way to Mooloolaba and the Surf Club is chockablock full with people. I manage to get a seat near the big screen, order my usual toasted sandwiches for lunch and watch some cricket (2nd test Australia - India in Sydney). Outside the surf is very rough, white and foaming. All swimming beaches between here and the Gold Coast 200 km to the South are closed for swimming.

Babette and Doug at Hathi's This evening I take Babette and Doug out for dinner at the Hathi Indian Restaurant on Aerodrome Road, Maroochydore (07 5443 5411). Have not been there for several years but we decided to check it out again. The place is packed when we arrive. I had booked just before and we are lucky to get a table. Almost all tables are double booked for the night. No wonder, the food is excellent and not expensive. They have a help yourself smorgasbord for AUD$ 19 which includes a range of entrees, main courses and deserts. We however make our choices from the a la carte menu. Despite all the diners the service is most efficient and very quick, so we don't have to wait long for our meal. We leave happy and well nourished, and arrive back home just in time to watch Black Books on ABC TV, a quirky and suitably funny comedy series.

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Thursday January 3, 2008 (diary, bio, ancestors, personality, family, books)

I am an extremely restless person. It must be inherited, can't get rid of it, its in my blood, my DNA.
My father who had a great interest in it at the time, traced our ancestors back to the mid 1600s, when official records of ordinary people were started to be kept in Europe.

He found that our ancestors at that time lived in Austria. From there they moved West into Germany and after arriving at the Rhine valley, gradually moved Northwards along the river until they crossed the Dutch border at 'sHeerenberg around 1750.
Here one of them became a border official and we believe that it was him who had our family crest made at that time in order to validate his signature on trade documents.
The Furstners then moved on to Amsterdam, The Hague and Rotterdam, where my father was born. As a young man he first lived two years in London, followed by similar periods in Paris, then Germany where he met his future wife Else in Wismar (on the SW shore of the Baltic Sea).

After my parents married they moved to Zutphen, from where their children eventually moved overseas. I migrated with my wife Antien and 2 year old daughter Babette to Australia, and was soon followed by my brother Claus. My sister Wivica, after traveling around a fair bit finally settled in the South of Germany.
I don't believe that there has been any one Furstner during the past 400 years, who stayed longer than one generation at one place. My usual camping setup
Life as a geologist in Australia and PNG suited my restlessness, as I changed job, we moved on every two or three years.
When single again and after my music studies in Adelaide, I did settled down for a while in Nambour at the Sunshine Coast throughout the 90s. But this did not continue into the new Century. I sold my house and got rid of most of my personal belongings. Family related stuff I passed on to my children, the rest, apart from my musical instruments and book stock, I gave to the Salvation Army.
Great feeling, I move around now in my van to anywhere I like, but mostly Darwin and the Sunshine Coast. I keep buying new books however, which becomes a problem as my van starts to overflow. So, after reading them I usually give them away, or leave behind somewhere. Except for the really good ones, I sneak those on a shelf at my daughter's place, so that when I come back each Christmas I can read them again if I want to. Just finished Birdsong again by Sebastian Faulks, also Steinbeck's Cannery Row, and halfway through Louis de Bernières' Captain Corelli's Mandolin.

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Friday January 4, 2008 (personality, ancestors, travel, family)

Wood in the Black Forest Besides my restless nature I talked to you about yesterday, there is one other aspect of my personality which I am sure is passed on from my distant ancestors. I love trees, woods, forests. That last one is of course the keyword.
Our name "Furstner" used to be Förster, the German word for forester. At some time 400 years or more ago, one or more of our ancestors must have been very closely associated with the woods as forester.

This realisation came suddenly strongly to the fore in my mind when visiting my sister Wivica in St. Peter in the Black Forest (S Germany, 25km NE of Freiburg) in May last year.

One day I was following a 7.5 km long walking trail from St. Märgen to St. Peter, one of the numerous signed hikes you can do throughout the Black Forest.
I entered a wood and at once I felt I belonged here. The feeling was so overwhelming I just wanted to stretch out on the ground, feel the welcoming softness of it, look up at the tall tree trunks and their dark green canopies. I did not, instead I just turned round and round, looking up, down, everywhere. Somewhere a tiny spring sprang out of a small dug trench in the ground. I drank the crystal clear water.
It was absolutely magic and wonderful. I overpoweringly felt, and became connected with the deep feelings of love for the earth my distant forefathers had felt while tending woods like this.

So, I am going back this year for a long stretch (3.5 months), staying with my sister as a base, but traveling also to other areas like Bavaria, Austria, etc. to do walks through these woods, hills and mountains. But also to eat the foods, drink the beer and wines, sit in villages and on lakes to absorb the atmosphere.

Part view from Babette's rear balcony Martinshof - 2 continues from Jan. 2
This love for the woods is not just restricted to me of course. It is strong in most of the contemporary Furstners I know. My parents, after a brief spell in Zutphen, first living above their Jewelry shop in the Beukerstraat where I was born, then on the fringe of town in the Coerhoornsingel where Wivica entered this world, moved in 1942 into their new home Martinshof located in a wood, 5km East of Zutphen. This is where my brother Claus was born and where we grew up until leaving the nest. My parents lived there for the rest of their life, and we were happy to return to it from time to time on holidays.
Martinshof continues on Jan. 31

Wivica of course is surrounded by woods of the Black Forest. My brother lives on a 26 acres densely wooded property just outside Nambour (Sunshine Coast, Australia). And Babette and Doug live on 10 acres covering the tip of a small valley, filled with wonderful trees, almost completely hiding three lovely dams.
My son Jeroen and wife Lisa because of their work commitments live in Darwin. However their house is in the leafy suburb of Wanguri. There are tree studded parks all around them, and their garden (like the others all around them) is filled with palms and other lush tropical vegetation.

I, as you know, move around a lot. I love the sea, the bush, the rain forests, nature in every shape or form and wherever it is. But I realise now that from time to time I have to get back into the woods of my ancestors, to tap into their spirit, feel at one with them and nourish my soul.

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Saturday January 5, 2008 (diary, books, writing, food)

After weeks of rain finally the sun has come out. As it rises the humidity increases from all the moisture on the ground everywhere. I am busy on my computer all day and even forget to go for my usual lunch trip to the coast. Inside Babette's home
Babette is taking to writing html script like a fish to the water and is frantically experimenting with frames and other exotic items to present her novels in.
After lunch two of her girlfriends and fellow writers, Naomi and Sandy, arrive for a bit of a writer's jam session. They do exercises like "Describe this room" then "What do you think could have happened in this room?. Dull questions you may think, but you have not seen Babette's living room. Full of knick knacks, statuettes, pottery, exotic lamps, wood carvings and furniture from Japan, paintings by Wivica, Babette, Malveen (an old flame of mine), even one by myself. Material for two descent volumes at least one would think.

Babette is writing on her laptop, the two other girls scribble away with pencils in notebooks. This of course is much slower, but perhaps they feel closer to the creative process this way, or more in phase with writers from the past.
John Steinbeck would religiously first sharpen a dozen pencils in the morning, place some pads with yellow writing paper at the ready, before he started. He always wrote in a special writing room out of bounds to anyone, including his wife, unless expressly invited. A handyman enthusiast he would also keep tools and a workbench in this room.
Hemingway, as a young journalist was far less demanding. He would happily write away in cafes and on terraces of the boulevards in Paris, soaking up the atmosphere and at the same time avoiding the interference from his young wife and baby child. Henry James, contracted RSI in his wrist and ended up not writing at all but dictating to a hired man who came to his house each day.
With Lefty and Doug

Doug too is busy today, working hard on his retaining wall in front of the house. He also sold another guitar this morning so is taking us out to night to dinner at Lefty's Restaurant (07 5443 7891, 51 Duport Avenue, Maroochydore). Once again, this is a place mainly known to and frequented by the locals, and many of them !! It is always busy.
Lefty (real name Brian Church) is a wonderfully outgoing person who makes everyone visiting his restaurant feel very welcome and fully at home. He talks to all his guests, gives them bear hugs or has a drink with them at their table.
The decor, which includes several paintings by his artist wife, has not changed since he opened up 12 years ago, and this somehow adds to the atmosphere. The restaurant serves "Mediterranean Food", very nice indeed, and is fully licensed. But you can also bring your own (BYO). At Lefty's this does not mean just one or two bottles of wine. You can bring an whole esky full of drinks if you wish. Tonight even a guy walks in with a complete carton of beer on his shoulder. Lefty does not mind, I don't think he even charges corkage at all. We have a great time, a terrific meal and arrive home just in time to watch The Bill on ABC TV.

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