Archive for July, 2007

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Small Garment Wearers Everywhere

31 July 2007

Peter Costello, Australia’s Treasurer, is on a bit of a crusade to encourage Australian women to have babies . . lots of them, or at least 3 anyway.  “One for the father, one for the mother, and one for the country”, he’s quoted as once saying.  Well, the women of my acquaintance are certainly being very patriotic as I’ve never had so many pregnant friends at one time.  I also don’t know of any other country in the 21st century castigating its families for not being large enough.  France used to do it, and give huge financial benefits to big families, and I believe the Catholic Church still gives out medals to those who swell its ranks.  But at a time when Australia was placing large numbers of babies and small children into detention centres, it does seem slightly obscene.

And what does this country do to encourage its future mothers?  Very little (except shout at them).  In fact, until 2 years ago, nothing at all really. They now give a one-off bonus payment of $4000 to each new mother.  I haven’t had a child but I wouldn’t think $4000 goes very far to compensate for the cost of kitting out a baby and for the loss of earnings. 

The lump sum payment was introduced to try to satisfy those demanding paid maternity leave, which is seen here as the slippery slope to a socialist state.  But did you know that only FIVE countries in the world don’t give paid maternity leave?  Australia is proud to share its beliefs with Lesotho, Swaziland, Papua New Guinea and the USA.   The answer here seems to be to try to create more and more places in childcare centres, which are more difficult to get into than Eton school (no joke – mothers are putting their names down before the child is born).  This then encourages fairly disreputable companies from setting up such places, and I know I’d be more than a little worried about placing my very precious baby into the hands of some of these organisations.   

In countries where proper maternity payments are made, childcare just doesn’t present the same problem.  In the UK apparently 25% of the places are vacant and in Sweden, fewer than 500 children are in full-time day-care.   

Anyway, I don’t have these sorts of problems to contend with.  I just think “new baby, new knitting” and get the needles out.   

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Happy Birthday, Teddy

29 July 2007

Teddy1

In July we’re rather busy with birthdays in our family.  And today is Teddy’s turn.  He’s 55.  He has a brother, Big Teddy, who is also 55 but he lives with my sister in England. 

He still has most of his fur, and squeaks if you punch him in the stomach, but he has half an eye missing.  About 5 years ago I sent him back to the factory where he was born and they repaired his nose (and returned him to me with the red ribbon!)  I then had to put him into a packing case to send him from England to Australia but he survived the journey and is enjoying his dotage sitting on my bedside table in Sydney. 

So Happy Birthday, Teddy.  Thank you for sticking with me all these years.

PS:  By one of those strange coincidences, it’s my birthday today as well!  (And, funnily enough, I squeak if you punch me in the stomach, too).    

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Happy Birthday, Judith

27 July 2007

Today is my sister’s 60th birthday.  The picture was taken earlier this year when Judith won a professional photo session.

Judith 2007

Our relationship got off to a rather shaky start.  She wasn’t told that it was her 3rd birthday as my mother went into hospital that day.  A few days later, Mum returned with cries of “Happy Birthday!  Look what we’ve got for you”.  Apparently I wasn’t Judith’s birthday present of choice; she’d had her heart set on a puppy or a bicycle.  However, she’s not one to bear a grudge, my sister, and by the time I was about 30, she appeared to have forgiven me. 

And I’m so glad that she did. 

She’s really is the best sister I could have hoped for.  She’s kind, incredibly generous, and supportive.  She’s intelligent, fun (and funny) and very caring with family, friends and strangers.  She’s always been there for me and I know that I will always be able to count on her, despite the fact that we live 12,000 miles apart.

She’s had a truly dreadful year when just about everything that could go wrong in her life has managed to do so. 

So have a lovely birthday, Judith.  I’m so sorry I can’t be there.  And my most heartfelt wish is that the next year is 1000% better than the last one.  

  

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I’m So Good . . . Part 2

23 July 2007

I’m still really trying hard not to buy any more yarn and have only slipped a couple of times (a trip to Melbourne wouldn’t be complete without a quick look at their shops, would it?)(and I couldn’t come away from the Darling Harbour Show completely empty-handed, could I?). 

I’m working on lots of stash-busting projects at the moment, including the scarf for David I told you about (he chose the yarn, then designed the scarf with Photoshop).  I’ve nearly finished that and it’s pretty close to David’s requirements, I think.  I’ll post a photo and the original design as soon as it’s finished.

But my accumulation of yarn just pales into insignificance compared to some I know of.  And today Lynne points us to pictures of the biggest stash you’ve ever seen.  As one comment she received says, there are yarn shops around with less stock than this

Once upon a time, I bought yarn that I needed for a project so all I had in the house was a few left-overs; really only enough to make dolls’ clothes.  When did I start buying yarn with no project in mind, put it in a cupboard for a year or so then find JUST the garment I wanted to knit?  I can’t remember.  Is it an addiction?  Is rehabilitation available?  As with all addictions though, I don’t suppose any detox programme really works well unless the addict is really determined to beat it. 

And I’m not.  I love it.  I love having an idea for a project, going to my stash, finding just what I’m looking for and starting to knit it, all in the space of an hour. 

I’d be very interested to hear when, and particularly why, your collection of yarn became a hobby in its own right.   

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Don’t Let The Cat Out Of The Bag. . Oops, I Mean The Pillowcase

17 July 2007

Do any of you remember Protect and Survive, the wonderful booklet that the British Government produced in the 70’s. giving us all useful information about preparing for a nuclear attack?  Things like filling the bath full of water and putting sandbags against all doors and windows (or in the case of we inner city flat dwellers who haven’t got immediate access to much sand, I suppose we could have emptied out our pot plants). 

Well the Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore, has come up with a plan for us all in the event of a terrorist attack, including keeping a bag packed with the basic essentials – water, a torch, mobile phone, first aid kit, suncream (suncream?). 

But what do we do about our beloved pets?  Don’t worry, Clover has the answer.  Put your cat into a pillowcase, she suggests. 

No, Clover.  YOU come over and try to put Chloe into a pillowcase. 

This sounds like a woman who doesn’t know cats.  But at least we now know why we’d need the first aid kit. 

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U-Turn on the Road to Damascus

15 July 2007

In my 20’s, I underwent a religious conversion . . . I became an atheist (the Road to Damascus isn’t a one-way street).

And on New Year’s Eve last year I made two New Year Resolutions.  The first was that I would stop being such a tolerant atheist (as most of those I know are) and become a little more vocal about it.  I think it’s about time we were heard as the religious of all persuasions seem to have the loudest voices and are now starting to wield the greatest power, from our Minister of Health refusing to allow the importation of a drug because it offends his Catholic sensibilities (a ruling now thankfully overthrown by a group of female cross-party Senators) to State Government members being threated by a Cardinal with excommunication if they didn’t vote a particular way on the stem cell research bill.  (And I won’t mention the US President who believes that fighting in the Middle East is his personal Crusade – his word – because it fulfils some prophecy.)

So when I saw vast quantities of our money being spent on what is a Catholic recruitment drive in Sydney (see NSW Let’s Buy Votes Day below),  I wrote about it on the blog, wrote to my Member of State Parliament (Greg Smith – I’m not expecting a reply but if I do I’ll tell you about it) and have written to the Sydney Morning Herald.  I could of course write to my Member of Parliament, but as that’s John Howard I wouldn’t expect anything but a mealy-mouthed response, if I got one at all. 

I was brought up in a family and an era that decreed that religion and politics were not “polite” subjects for discussion – it may offend someone by disagreeing with their deeply felt beliefs.  And I’ve never gone out of my way to offend anyone.  But this rule seems to have been thrown out of the window and MY beliefs are offended on practically a daily basis. 

So I’ve decided to come out fighting.  I still have no objection to others believing whatever they want, but in the name of God/Allah/Jehovah/Santa Claus/The Tooth Fairy please keep your faith out of my life. 

And the second New Year Resolution?  Well, that’s a knitting one so will have to wait until another time.

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David’s Sweater

11 July 2007

By popular demand (!), a picture of David’s sweater. As I said, no grey, black or navy blue for him.
Not a great photo I’m afraid as the light’s pretty useless outside for taking pictures at the moment, there are few places indoors to display items and my photographic skills are pretty non-existent.
But you get the idea.
Now I just have to get the scarf knitted but I don’t think he’ll be wearing them together.