Biographical Log of Michael Furstner - Page 16

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Thursday March 6, 2008 (bio, religion, awareness, Minister)

Martinshof, rear view Awareness 6 continues from March 3
As a baby I was babtised in a Lutheran Church, but to the best of my knowledge I never entered a Lutheran church after that event again. Not for any religious reason mind you. There simply were not that many of them in Holland.
I went to a Public Primary school (" Vuller School") in Gorssel, but after that to the Christian Baudartius Lyceum in Zutphen for my High school education. We started the first lesson each day with a prayer and we had one hour a week Bible class.

I also had for a year or two private Bible tuition by the local Minister, van Voorst Vaders. I and two others would visit his home once a fortnight, and in his study discuss with the Minister various Bible issues. I quite enjoyed these and got on very well with van Voorst Vaders. During these couple of years I was also rostered to do the collecting at Church services on Sundays once a fortnight. I enjoyed these services too, not so much the sermons as the singing together with the whole community.
But then van Voorst Vaders transferred us to the official Bible classes as preparation to acceptance in the Church. I very soon found that this was definitely not my cup of tea. The things we had to learn, promise and believe in I found totally unacceptable and frankly very naive. I stuck it out for three months, then went to see the Minister to tell him the bad news : I was quitting. He accepted my decision good heartedly and without any ill feelings whatsoever. I believe in fact that he was glad I had been honest and was thinking things through for myself. Not a common occurrence in his experience I suspect.

During my teens and twenties I continued to believe in a God, but not connected with any of the established religions. I recognised then already the enormous discrepancy between these naive short sighted human focused religions on the one hand and the real world (nature, the universe) on the other. The two were in my opinion totally incompatible.

In our twenties Antien and I both believed in a God, so we thought it would be appropriate to get married in a church. I rang van Voorst Vaders and he joined us one afternoon for tea. We had an amicable discussion, but the bottom line was that we had to promise to live our lives according to the rules of the Church (the Dutch Hervormede Kerk, a very liberal one). Fair enough, but we did not want to do that. So the Church wedding was off and we were married by a Municipal clerk. Van Voorst Vaders came however to our wedding reception and wished us both well with his usual big and happy smile.

Martinshof, rear view A year later, you guessed it, we thought it would be a good idea to get our baby daughter Babette baptised. We felt that although we did not agree to the Church's doctrines, our daughter should not suffer as a consequence of that. So I once again invited van Voorst Vaders to Martinshof where we had a most pleasant afternoon tea with him.
But he again stated that if we wanted Babette to be baptised we had to promise to bring her up according to the rules of his Church. We replied that we could not promise that. So Antien and I decided that our children had to make up their own mind about these matters when they grew up.

Van Voorst Vaders, I am certain, respected our two decisions. Most people would, and did say "yes" to whatever was required to get married in Church and have their children baptised. We did not, because we took our belief most seriously. Van Voorst Vaders valued us very highly because of that. These things one should never ever skimp on. It is in my view cheating on one's own life.

I met van Voorst Vaders once more in 1981. My sister Wivica had invited him to say a few words of remembrance and farewell at my father's funeral, and he did. It was wonderful to see each other again after so many years. Two true believers (in our own way), but at opposite sides of an artificial "man made" fence.
Awareness continues on March 12

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Friday March 7, 2008 (diary)

ThreePonds trees in bloom The rain has now fully stopped and the sun is shining through already early in the morning. The view from the ThreePonds rear deck is wonderful with bottle brushes and a large purple tree in full bloom. No doubt Doug would tell me its name, but he is still in India for another few weeks. (Babette has come to the rescue. It is a Tipachina tree)

I am reorganising my blog text files in a different way now, organising them better for the future in separate folders. So from now on you will be redirected to the Most Recent Page via an automatic transfer page. Works fine. I am also changing the Topics page, with photos (and in due course text too) organised in topic groups. This will make it easier to look at say all the family photos together, or all those of my cruise last year.

Babette has several of the hand made jewelry pieces from Atelier Martinshof, but they need cleaning and some minor repairs. I am a bit hesitant to give them to just any gold smith, it are hugely unique and valuable pieces. So I am trying to find a good one I can trust with this.

In the evening Babette and I have dinner at the Thai Parnit Restaurant in Nambour. I try something different this time, Beef curry in a coconut sauce, absolutely delicious. Babette is sticking with her Green Chicken Curry, and of course we have the deep fried Cuttlefish balls as entree (as well as a few other things).

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Saturday March 8, 2008 (food, oysters, bio, diary, Weltschmerz)

Cofin Bay Oyster Vinaigrette Tetsuya's Australia has an abundance of seafoods and Australians love and greatly value it. For oyster lovers like me it is an absolute paradise. I found this out shortly after arriving in Australia in 1966 when I joined BHP as a geologist to work on their four underground coal mines in Newcastle (NSW).

Just North of Newcastle, across the Hunter river lies the Australian Air force base Williamstown. Babette's partner Doug was based there while in the Air force in the 70s. There was a (then) small country road leading to the base and less than 10 km North of Newcastle was on the left hand side a small petrol station. We must have stopped there once to fuel up I suppose. Just outside the door into the office (to pay for the petrol) and covered by an old damp hessian bag was this large wooden crate full of oysters, "Six bob and dozen" the attendant tells us. Only 60 cents ??!!

After that discovery I made regular trips there on a weekend filling an esky with 8 dozen of these Sydney Rock oysters. Two dozen each, for Bass and Jantien Hensen (a fellow geologist from Leiden who arrived in Newcastle just two weeks after us) and Antien and myself. We had to clean and open the oysters ourselves, and soon we learned to do that expertly with oyster knives and garden gloves to protect our hands. Major feast every time and complemented of course by lots of wine from the nearby Hunter Valley.

My mother too loved oysters. She came to visit us first in Kalgoorlie (WA in 1970) and later in PNG and Canberra. And every time we went out for dinner she would order one dozen oysters for entree and a second dozen as a main course.

These days the Sydney Rock oysters have dropped to second best, in preference for the much larger Pacific oysters and most of all the Coffin Bay oysters. Coffin Bay is a small village on the West coast of the Eyre Peninsula (SA), a mere 30 km NW of Port Lincoln (the "Tuna Capital" of Australia). It lies near the mouth of a large inlet opening up to the Great Australian Bight, one of the most pristine, clear and pollution free coastline hugging seas in the world today. Seafood from the Bight is therefore as clean and fresh as you ever can get it anywhere.

Eyre Peninsula I passed through Coffin Bay in December 2002 when I was traveling and camping round Australia. I entered the sleepy village at noon, and asked in a shop advertising oysters for sale if they could open some for me. No, they could not do that they said. I tried another shop, same story, but a small restaurant, The Oyster Beds, appropriately located right opposite some oyster beds in the bay had a lunch special on : Half a Dozen Oysters plus a Glass of Wine for only $6.50.
I go inside and order a double portion of the Special. I am the only customer that afternoon and the owner John Versteeg (a Dutchman like myself) sits with me and we have a long chat in our mother tongue. He has come to an arrangement with the shop owners in town. None of them will sell opened oysters, so that tourists come to his restaurant instead. It worked with me, but I am not complaining, a full dozen oysters with two liberal glasses of whine and fresh bread for just $13.- is great value no matter how you looked at it.

Today I pick up two dozen of Coffin Bay's finest from the local fish shop Ron's Seafood in Kunda Park on my way back from the Surf Club. I have been going to that shop for years. The new owner lets me have a taste of her home made chowder, which is quite nice and I promise to come back another day and buy some.

Zara Somen Back at ThreePonds I prepare half a dozen Kilpatricks each for Babette and myself. The other half dozen we keep natural to try out some new dressing Babette got from her Japanese fishmonger in Brisbane. It is Tetsuya's Vinaigrette for Oysters. Tetsuya is a top class Japanese Restaurant in Sydney, which also produces and distributes some of their own designed dressings and sauces.
We pour it over the oysters together with some lemon and ground pepper. The combination is nice. I like it. We finish our meal with some Zara Somen, cold thin rice noodles, sprinkled with nouri flakes, which we dip in the soy sauce and rice wine vinegar marinade before eating it. I love it.

When I was a child I often cried, a form of Weltschmerz, "sorrow for the World", that bitter sweet feeling of the totality of human experiences, life and emotions : joy - pain - love - sorrow. Later I managed to bottle up these emotions and did not shed a single tear for 30 odd years or so. Then, after my mid life crisis at 43, the tears came again. In fact the flood gates have been fully open ever since. It is of course wonderful, because with the flood of tears come the emotions, which are so immensely important in one's life. It is Weltschmerz again, but of a different kind. As a child I only could sense it of course, but now after years of growing, I have experienced it first hand.

We watch a movie on TV tonight, The Russia House with Shawn Connery and Michelle Pfeifer. As soon as the music starts, the low sounds, the haunting soprano (describing everything what life's emotions are all about) the tears come to my eyes. Later on reflection I realise that for me this is a movie (perhaps the only one I ever saw) where the roles of the visual and the music are reversed. It is the story which supports the music, rather than the other way around.

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Sunday March 9, 2008 (diary)

I don't like going to the Mooloolaba Surf Club on a Sunday. It is always very crowded and there is also a duo playing which more often than not is too loud and only moderately tolerable at best. So I stay at home today, work on my Blog and sort out the shoe box full of slides I have. I manage to get through half of it today, about 400 slides. Most are from Newcastle and Kalgoorlie, some also from Yonki and Canberra, even Gertha's wedding (my late sister in law). I select 150 slides for conversion into digital. All up i will probably do this for 250 to 300 slides.

Babette shows me how to get onto the wireless network at ThreePonds. I gave it to them last year, but until today have been using my dial up connection which is rather slow. Quite simple, just pressing a computer button I did not know what it was for and off you go.
In the afternoon we have a few visitors for a drink. Naomi and her mum, and Colin too pops in to check out the new pickup for his guitar which is making a buzzing noise. After they leave we have Ramen and karage chicken for dinner in front of the TV while watching the second part of Jekyll with Bob Nesbitt. Final episode is next week.

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Monday March 10, 2008 (diary)

A few solid shower downpours in the morning again, then mostly overcast the rest of the day. I take 140 slides for conversion into digital to the shop in Forest Glen and promise a similar load tomorrow. They can't do the large negatives I gave them (their machine is to small for it) so I take those to Camera House in Maroochydore. Also get my Travel insurance organised with Joanne at Flight Center.
Babette and I both are somewhat anxious about giving the Martinshof jewelry to an unknown jeweler. So I check out a few more and end up with Mark and Shelley Evans in Cotton Tree. Mark is the goldsmith, while his wife Shelley runs the jewelry shop. Mark does not want to do the repair job as he believes the silver will get too hot and may damage the gem stones in the necklace. He recommends another business who can repair the link with a laser which does not uses heat. Modern technology has reached even the goldsmith bench these days. I promise to come back next day with the rest of the collection, as he is happy to clean and if necessary oxidise that.

Rhine, Ahr and Mosel Babette is gone to Sydney today, back Wednesday night. Doug rings me from his skype laptop and tells me he will be back next week Tuesday. I downloaded the skype software today too, but my voice is not picked up by the computer it seems. Probably another undiscovered knob somewhere I have to find and press. I go through the rest of my box of slides and select another 140 for digitising.
Online I make contact with two hotels in Germany I selected from my Lonely Planet Guide (great reference books they are). One is Hotel Schwarzen Kreuz in Altenahr on the Ahr river. I went through that valley on a geology excursion many years ago during my student days, found it very pretty and liked it. The other is in the Mosel valley, Hotel Sankt Maximillian in Bernkastel-Kues, which has a winery attached as well. I will probably spend 5-7 days in each of these during late April or early May, after first settling in at my sister Wivica's place in the Black Forest for a week or so.

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