Archive for December, 2010

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Highlights and Lowlights 2010 . . . Part 3

31 December 2010

It’s now New Year’s Eve in Sydney so tomorrow is another year that really can’t come soon enough for me.  I’ve a number of plans, all mainly in the “drawing board” stage, to try to ensure that next year is a bit more fun than this one was.  There were great bits, as I said a few days ago, but the whole year was overshadowed by hospital, endless physiotherapy, a painful hip and mobility problems.

The year can’t end though without the biggest ‘THANK YOU’ I can muster.  To David.  He was rather thrown by my accident – he’s never nursed anyone before, he’s never been in hospital or had an operation.  It was a completely foreign country to him.  But, boy, did he come up trumps!

He fed and watered me, he dressed me and undressed me, he bathed me.  He waited on me hand and foot when I really could do little for myself. He cuddled me when I was depressed and fed up with the whole palaver.  He welcomed the friends who helped my sanity.  He gave me TWO birthday parties.  And he never once complained (well, not to me, anyway). 

So this year hasn’t really been wonderful for him either as he’s had to devote so much of it to looking after me.  I can’t thank him enough for his love and support. 

And I wish him THE BEST year ahead.  I’ll do everything I can to make it so. 

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Highlights & Lowlights . . . Part 2

29 December 2010

Onto highlights – as I look back on 2010, it just seems to have been riddled with problems but there have actually been some terrific times.

*   World Wide Knit In Public Day – I was in the middle of organising this when I had the accident so it all became really difficult.  A few friends kindly acted as “legs” for me and it seemed to come together on the day.  92 people turned out and I think a good time was had by all. 

*   My birthday – again wasn’t quite what I’d planned as I had been hoping to have a big party this year (special birthday).  But David once more came to the rescue and I had TWO lunch parties at home.  My house isn’t big enough for a large number of people, unless we can use the garden, and as my birthday is in July (the middle of winter here) we couldn’t guarantee the weather.  So I invited 15 people on each of two consecutive days, David cooked two great lunches and it was wonderful.  The only regret is that I couldn’t invite everyone I wanted to invite so if you got left out, I’m so sorry. 

*   Yarn!  One of the very few upsides of being in hospital is that wonderful friends brought me wonderful yarn.  Then I had a birthday and had even more wonderful yarn.  Gorgeous skeins of woolliness from around the world, most of which I’d never tried before (like the softest NZ possum which is still waiting to be turned into some special, and the most fantastic handspun sent from friends in England).  I’ve knitted like mad all year and have hardly spent a cent on yarn.  It’s a very cheap hobby if you can get all your friends to supply the basic material!

*   Friends – how on earth would I have managed this year without them?  Friends who came to the hospital, who kept me company at home, who phoned, emailed, acted as my chauffeur.  A truly wonderful group of people I feel honoured to know. 

So, all in all, not a bad year.  Thank you to everyone who made it so.

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Highlights and Lowlights 2010 . . . Part 1

28 December 2010

I’ll start with the lowlights – as things could only get better!

* Was excluded from standing for the Guild Executive because of a bizarre legal interpretation of the rules, despite many legal brains backing me.  A lot of nastiness ensued (not emanating from me, I hasten to add).  But a highlight is that a lot of good people successfully got in, the Guild has gone from strength to strength this year and it has nearly caught up with the 21st Century.  So I’ll try again in March and hope my Guild membership will be a highlight of 2011.

*  Fell over in the street in April, fractured the neck of my femur in two places, sat at home feeling sorry for myself for 3 months and now (for the time being, at least) walk with a stick.   

*  The Federal Election – I campaigned for Maxine McKew but couldn’t do as much as I’d like because of my lack of mobility.  And she lost which was so sad. 

That’s it.  When it’s written down like that, it doesn’t look as though I’ve had a bad year but I suppose the fracture rather jaundiced my view of it as it took over my life for such a long time (and still does to a certain extent).

And my ‘funny’ of the year?  Apparently some people think that LOL means ‘lots of love’.  So a woman on the internet said she received the following text message:

“Sorry to say that Gran died this morning.  LOL. Mum”

 

 

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Merry Christmas

26 December 2010

To those in the Northern Hemisphere, that is.  Down here, it’s already the 26th.  Hope all my friends are having/have had a great day.

Chez Pompom. it’s definitely what would be called a “quiet Christmas” – well how much noise can two adults make?  Despite all the warnings of rain and maybe thunderstorms, it was a beautiful day in Sydney so we took the top off the car and drove down the coast (it’s raining this morning and maybe thunderstorms later so we picked the right day).

David gave me a jewellery box but, as is usual with him, it wasn’t any old jewellery box.  I’ve never seen one more beautiful (and as he hardly ever reads my blog, I CAN be honest here so if it were ghastly I could say so!).  I haven’t sorted out my jewellery yet but every time I walk past it, I stop and have another look and a stroke.  It’s large, wooden, lacquered, stunning and elegant. 

And I gave him a sock.  Just the one.  I’ve never knitted socks before (well maybe when I was a child) but he really likes jazzy socks so I thought I was being a bit selfish not making some for him.  I followed the instructions to the letter but it looked too big to me so didn’t want to waste time knitting its partner until he tried it on.  It seemed a perfect fit, and stayed up, so tonight I’d better start on another – at least I’ll be able to knit this one in front of him. It’s OK, he didn’t just get one sock.  He also got a new phone and some books so seemed really happy. 

When the shops re-open and the sales start, I’ll buy myself a new camera as mine has finally given up the ghost.  I didn’t want to get one before Christmas JUST IN CASE, but there was no camera under the tree so I’ll have to get my own.  Then – lots of knitting pictures.  I’ve finished so many things over the last few weeks (including, of course, a sock) and want to get them up here and on Ravelry before the year end.

Hope you all enjoy the rest of your holidays.  I certainly intend to.

 

   

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I Was In The Area So . . . . .

19 December 2010

A couple of years ago, I was with a group of knitting friends in a cafe when one of them complained about a friend who would just drop by to her house unannounced.  She thought that was dreadful and everyone else in the group agreed with her.  Except for me.

Then this week, I read an article in one of the Sydney dailies which touched on this subject.  The writer said it was now a complete “no no” in Australia (or at least in Sydney) to call on a friend without prior warning.

When I lived in London, friends would just drop in and I took it as an extreme compliment – they presumably felt they would get a warm welcome.  And we’re talking about FRIENDS here, not passing acquaintances.  Friends won’t be offended if I have to tell them that I can’t stop as I’m on my way out, or I only have half an hour free but it’s enough time to put the kettle on. 

As well as being a compliment to my hospitality, it’s also easier!  If I know you’re coming over, I’ll make some attempt at tidying up and cleaning, I’ll make sure I have some cake or biscuits on hand etc.  If you just drop by, I may only be able to offer you a tea or coffee and have to clear the knitting from the sofa but presumably you’ll realise that. 

I wondered why nobody here ever dropped in but presumed it was ME.  I’ve often had friends over for meals and don’t seem to have trouble persuading people to come over (well David is a great cook).  But nobody ever calls by on the off-chance that I’ll be at home.  And nowadays of course they can phone from a mile or so away to check. 

I also use to pop over to see friends in England but I was glad I hadn’t been doing that here when I heard the opinion of my knitting crowd. 

So if you’re a friend of mine, and you find yourself in my area, drop in to say hello.  If it should be grossly inconvenient (which would be rare), I’ll tell you.  If not, you’re very welcome.

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She’s Only A Child

9 December 2010

I haven’t got any children.  My only ‘expert’ knowledge has been gained because I was one once.  I come from a fairly average sort of family – mother and father living together, one sister.  The only odd thing about my upbringing was that I was brought up in hotels and pubs, and we moved quite a lot, so I went to 5 schools from the age of 11. 

I was (am?) reasonably bright and generally kept up with, or overtook, other pupils in most subjects at school.  I’m not being modest when I say that I wasn’t an outstanding student and am certainly not what is classed now as “gifted”.  I was just a fairly intelligent child with parents who encouraged us to read, play music, take up hobbies etc.  All pretty normal.

But I’ve noticed over the last few years that our expectations of children’s ability (in the Western world) has slumped to an all-time low.  Threads on Ravelry talk about 8 year olds  being too young to learn to knit for instance – they can’t concentrate for long enough, they may damage themselves with the needles.  Balderdash!  My sister and I were taught when we were about 5 – I’ve still got the first item I knit which was a scarf for my father, using about 8 different stitches (including a cable), when I was five and a half.  By the time we were ten or so, we were knitting proper garments for ourselves – cardigans etc.

Recently I came across the UK Brownies’ rules to obtain a knitting badge.  One of the requirements was that the Brownie had to knit a pair of socks – proper socks with a turned heel – and these girls would be about 9. 

And it’s not just knitting.  I noticed in a bookshop the other day that the age at which books are aimed without pictures has risen tremendously (except for the Harry Potter books, which are being read by quite small children without a picture in sight).  5 year olds at school seem to be playing all day, not studying the three Rs. 

5-10 year olds can read, play musical instruments, knit, sew, learn a foreign language all quite easily.  And I’m not talking about the current trend for hot-housing where some children are collected from school and rushed off to extra-curricula lessons (generally to improve their chances of getting into a ‘better’ school) and have no time for play.  We went to activities that interested us – swimming club, brass band practice, acrobatic lessons – and at home we read, knitted, played with friends.  It all seemed like play to us outside of school.  But it meant we were able to ‘dip our toes’ into a number of interests and meet people (adults and children) away from school and home.  Some of these activities we’ve stuck with (like knitting) and some we’ve dropped along the way.  But they were all very good life experiences for a child.  Nobody ever suggested that we wouldn’t be capable of doing something because we were only children. 

I really do think our society is vastly underestimating the ability of children and my few visits to a school for 5-9 year olds confirms this. 

 

  

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Oprah At The Opera

5 December 2010

I’m sometimes a little critical of the way that both the State and Federal Governments throw our money around.  My rants about the $165 million spent to host the Catholic Church’s World Youth Day spring to mind, and the Federal funding of such ridiculous institutions as schools run by Scientologists.

But I’m not joining in with the criticism of the State’s contribution to the Oprah Winfrey roadshow which hits town this week.  This is going to cost us $3.5 million.

I’m not a particular fan of Oprah’s and have watched her show only a few times.  But I have a lot more respect for her than I do for the Pope.  And, strangely, she’s probably more influential. 

World Youth Day brought us a large number of young people (obviously) who were billeted in private homes, had not much money to throw around and contributed little to the country’s economy.

Millions of people in 145 countries watch Oprah, some hang on her every word and we know that she influences book sales tremendously.  She’s hosting two shows at the Opera House and is travelling around Oz a little so that she can show her viewers what it’s like.  If she can send a book to the top of the bestsellers list, let’s see if she can do the same for a country. 

The alternative is Australian Tourist Board advertising which  hasn’t always proved to be very successful or well-judged (the “Where the Bloody Hell Are You?” campaign was an unmitigated waste of money apparently) and $3.5 million doesn’t get you much air time around the world. 

I think this is a fairly modest PR investment and I’ll be very interested to see if tourist figures rise next year.   

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