Archive for March, 2011


The Not Quite So Honourable Member

23 March 2011

I’m an atheist.  If a friend invites me to her wedding in a church, I accept.  Or a synagogue.  Or a Hindu temple.  I’ve attended weddings at all these venues.  Is that hypocritical of me?  No, of course not.

But Tony Abbott (leader of the Opposition in Federal Parliament – for those of you not living with Australian politics) has declared that our atheist Prime Minister shouldn’t have accepted the invitation to attend William and Kate’s wedding at Westminster Abbey next month.  And he doesn’t stop there.  She’s also unmarried and “living in sin” which should also stop her from attending a Christian service.  But she doesn’t believe in sin, so why should this be a problem for her? (And, incidentally, I think William and Kate have done a bit of “living in sin” in their time too but I suppose Tony would have the view that at least William is making an honest woman of her!)

I’m sorry, Tony, but you’re clutching at straws here.  I really don’t think the vast majority of Australians would bat an eyelid at this.  But I DO think they would consider it extremely rude and a real snub if she declined the invitation on such flimsy grounds.  As would refusing to attend the, mainly Christian, funerals of Australian soldiers killed in action.    If a Jewish friend invites you to his wedding, do you really refuse?  If you’d been Prime Minister, would you, as a Catholic, have turned down this invitation because the marriage is taking place in an Anglican Abbey and the groom will one day be head of the Church of England?  I don’t know what the rules are now but I do remember that even when I was a teenager, a Catholic needed permission from his church before attending any services in an Anglican one, and that included weddings.

Julia Gillard has never hidden her atheism, nor that she has a live-in man.  She didn’t swear on the Bible when she took office. 

You are the Leader of the Opposition and as such we are not surprised when you criticise the Government’s policies.  But pick your fights more carefully.  This one just makes you look rather stupid, extremely petty and pretty pathetic. And it reeks of sour grapes.


Bits and Pieces

22 March 2011

I’ve had lots of comments this month I really must answer.

Yes, Kiniacat, we’re all crossing our fingers that the Easter Show display will change this year – for the better, we hope.  I love your comment that despite the “cringe” in my voice, you think I still “politely” describe things!   It’s very tempting, as I’m sure you can imagine, to be more than disparaging at some of the items on display.  There are usually 3 or 4 where David (knitting David NOT husband David) and I just look at each other and shrug (but unfortunately you can’t hear the shrug), followed by a whispered “What is it?”.  There have been occasions when our combined brains couldn’t come up with an answer.  I particularly remember one item that looked like a toilet seat cover (and about the right size);  it was a really bright yucky pink and had a small doll attached to it. No idea what it was, not even sure we managed to discover which category it was in.  But the biggest question was “Why would anyone use their time and skills to knit THAT?”.  Fortunately most of the items, while not always necessarily to my taste, are very well made and some, particularly last year, were quite stunning.  I’m looking forward to meeting up with David again at the Easter Show this year.

A number of you seemed to agree with me that deciding how to vote on Saturday was a bit of a conundrum.  And a number of you also agreed that the Catholic Bishops had pointed us in roughly the right direction! I remember once before talking here about what I consider the outrageous amount of money that is given to so-called “private” schools by the Federal and State Governments and having what could be called I suppose a “robust debate”.  The idea that Governments fund schools run by the Exclusive Brethren and Scientologists is frankly ludicrous and does a great disservice to our children.  I’m sure to return to this topic as it really isn’t going to go away while all politicians are frightened of the repercussions they will suffer at the ballot box if they change the status quo. 

So far it’s been a good month.  Even the subject of the price of driving licences drew quite a large response!   


Short of Time . . . Short of Words

21 March 2011

Just a quick post tonight (to make sure I keep my promise). 

Don’t forget that if you leave a comment during March, your name goes into the hat for one of two prizes – one for an Australian resident and one which will go anywhere else in the world.  I’ve received 63 comments so far; thank you to all who have taken the time and trouble to leave one.

There are another 11 days to go and I’ll announce the winners on 1st April.  Then the nice bit for me – finding the prizes to match the people.


Catholic Bishops Come To My Rescue

20 March 2011

Thank you so much to the ten NSW Catholic Bishops who have helped me come to a voting decision for next week’s State election.

They’ve issued a very helpful 2 page booklet called The Green Agenda stating that the party’s human rights and social policy areas are in direct conflict ”with the beliefs and values of virtually all religious people, and the beliefs of many other people as well”.

”Greens who are elected will bring a whole set of policies. You cannot pick and choose. They are not only concerned for the environment,” it reads. 

And it outlines six areas of grave concern: The Green’s treatment of personal drug use as a health and social issue/their commitment to remove religious exemptions from the Anti Discrimination Act/their call for the legalisation of marriage between same sex couples/their desire to transfer $780 million a year of state and federal funding of non-Government schools to public education. The other two areas are concerned with the rather confusing way that abortion is dealt with, legally, in all States, and the same problem that arose with euthanasia laws introduced by the Territories, which were overturned by the then Howard (Liberal) Government.

Most of this sounds pretty good to me and I thank the Catholic Bishops for bringing it to my attention. The Bishops don’t mention the Green’s views on the treatment of asylum seekers and refugees but I can go with them on that one too. Neither of the other parties appears willing to put social issues on the agenda and behaves as though the only role of Government is to balance the books.  I don’t know why they don’t just appoint a panel of accountants and economists and let them get on with it.


Lace Knitting – Part 2 – Orenburg Lace

19 March 2011

On my last post Talespinner left a comment about Orenburg Shawls in reply to my question about whether Shetland lace originated in Russia. Apparently this is probably partly true. 

The Wedding Ring Shawl originated in Orenburg for instance and was probably taken to the Shetland Isles by sailors where it became part of their traditional knitting.  And a number of the motifs are the same.

And this gives me an opportunity to take off my Pompom hat, and put on my Knitters’ Guild Publicity Officer’s hat!  If you’d like to learn more about Orenburg lace knitting, the  Guild is holding a series of workshops in Sydney from 29th March to 2nd April.  The tutor is Galina Khmeleva, who is considered the world’s authority on the subject.  She’s in Australia for a few weeks and we’ve been lucky enough to get her in Sydney for a few days. From what I’ve read about workshops that she’s conducted all over the world, this woman really knows her stuff and a great time is had by all.  

All details can be found here.  The workshops are open to Guild and non-Guild members (with members of the Knitters’ Guild and other NSW craft Guilds receiving a discounted price). If you have any interest in lace knitting, I think this is probably an opportunity not to be missed. 

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Lace Knitting

18 March 2011

A lovely story here about a wonderful lace knitter – an 87 year old man from Oregon. 

But is it true that Shetland lace originated in Russia?  If you know anything about this, please tell the rest of us.


Ticking The Right Box

17 March 2011

I MUST stop watching Party Political broadcasts.  Well, if the truth be known, I don’t exactly tune into them.  I just come across them, and then don’t tune out.

But no party has seen fit yet to really give me any specifics – except for Barry O’Farrell’s promise to reduce the cost of driving licences for safe drivers, though I have to say that doesn’t inspire me to rush to put the number 1 against our Liberal candidate (we don’t put a X in Australia).

Then a few days ago we had the party that stands for Family Values whatever they may be.  And tonight Barry again – this time with a pledge to “support local communities”.  As opposed to?  Destroying local communities, perhaps.  Support them in what way, how, by doing what . . . ?  A few specifics would be appreciated.

And if you think I’m being prejudiced by not picking on Kristina Keneally, worry not.  It’s just that I haven’t seen any of her broadcasts yet for some odd reason.   But I’m sure when I do, I’ll find fault.  I’m like that.

The problem the voters of NSW has is that do we really want to vote for ANY of these people?  There are only 6 names on my local ballot paper – and two of those belong to the Christian Democrats (a party I find neither very Christian nor at all democratic) and Family First (those with the family values).  That narrows the field to 4, one of whom is an Independent I know absolutely nothing about (must read local paper this week).  Then there’s the Green candidate, who I vaguely know about.  The Labour candidate who is very young and inexperienced.  And the Liberal candidate, who is the sitting member.  He who never answers letters from his constituents.  And was President of the NSW Right to Life organisation. 

For those of you outside Australia who may not know this, voting is compulsory in Australia – well voting itself isn’t as long as you turn up at the polling station and get your name crossed off the list.  If you then wish to deface your paper or leave it blank that’s up to you.  But even in England, where I had the choice to vote or not, I always voted.  At two elections I stood and there’s nothing quite like casting a vote for yourself.

I’ve 10 days to decide what to do.  Must do a bit more research.