Saturday 30 September 2017

I try not to comment on the Guardian

website. Actually the Guardian website irritates me. I look at it sometimes because someone alerts me to an article or there is something going on and it is useful to see what their rolling coverage has to say compared with my other sources of information. And  yes, it tends to be sensationalist rather than accurate.
It is scarcely surprising when someone on the Guardian staff has a shot at the monarchy. It is that sort of news site.
Now what I think of the monarchy is irrelevant here but I went to law school at what was then regarded as the law school to attend in Downunder if you were in the slightest interested in international law, constitutional law, maritime law, or various other specialist law areas.  It is still seen that way. It turns out lawyers for the public service. People go on to be barristers and members of parliament or they work in the diplomatic corp. I went to law school with three former senators, one of whom is now an ambassador in Europe. Some years later I appeared in front of a major parliamentary inquiry and he was on it. He interrupted another Senator trying to give me a hard time for my (opposing) point of view and suggested they listen to what I had to say because I had, like him, been taught by someone everyone in the room respected for his knowledge of constitutional law.
And it is that knowledge of constitutional law and constitutional lawyers which came into question in a recent Guardian article. Our Professor, a republican if ever there was one, had good words to say about the present Queen Elizabeth. She is, he told us, an expert constitutional lawyer. No, she hasn't been to university. She has managed to gain her skills and knowledge on the job so to speak. Of course she would seek advice if she needed to know more but she can also offer advice - and many a Prime Minister has been glad of it and the way it has sometimes saved them embarrassment and humiliation. 
It's much too easy to assume that the Queen and other members of "the Firm" simply turn up, read a speech that someone else has written, listen to other speeches, take an artificial interest in what they are being shown and go away again. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Queen still works hard. Other members of the family work hard too - in ways that the public never see. Their fund raising capacities - as I have cause to know - are an essential part of charitable life. They listen and lobby and often a word from them can get something done before it gets out of control - again, something I have cause to personally know about.
Life behind the scenes in the palaces and castles and other residences is not opulent. It is almost austere. I've seen the evidence for myself.  There is a vast difference between the "royalty" the public sees and their actual lives. I'd loathe the sort of demands made of them.
So, whatever we may think of the monarchy, we need to realise that there is far more to it than the "glamorous" side. It is tedious and tiring - and it requires far more knowledge and hard work than most people would even contemplate gaining or doing.  
But, this seems to make little difference to the anti-monarchy brigade. All they see is what appears to be a "rich and privileged" family born into a role rather than earning it.
It is rather like the reporting of another case in the British media recently - that of an apparently intelligent and privileged university student who received a suspended sentence for stabbing her boyfriend. The media made much of that - and they didn't let the facts get in the way of the criticisms of the judge for the sentence handed down. That the real culprit in that crime was almost certainly someone else was of no interest to them.
I of course was roundly criticised for trying to point this out to the Guardian readership. It's my own fault. 

Friday 29 September 2017

I had a call from "My Aged Care"

This was organised by my soon to be niece-in-law. She's a nurse - marrying my doctor nephew.  Fortunately for us she knows how these things work and  has taken advantage of it. 
Yes, I know - unfair...or is it?
I thought about this. The Senior Cat is currently 94. He will turn 95 in February next year, if he is still with us. Up until the past couple of weeks we have, apart from the time he broke his leg and when he had the fall, managed without any extra help.  He isn't costing the government money by needing to be in a nursing home. I don't get paid for looking after him at home. He doesn't get Meals on Wheels or any of the other assistance other people his age are getting. 
Recently our wonderful gardener/handyman said he wanted to retire too. That's a real blow to us and it also means we need to make some changes and get some new help outside. That's because there are things I simply physically can't do. I'm not big enough or strong enough. I can't climb a ladder or get rid of more rubbish than we can bin.  S....has been marvellous. He has changed light bulbs, fixed a door, cleared gutters, weeded, pruned, dug, planted and more. His charges have been very, very reasonable. Losing him is going to mean finding multiple people to do multiple things - unless we make some changes. 
The Senior Cat doesn't want things to change - but he knows they must. We need to be rid of the tubs he was growing things in - so he doesn't trip over them. His old "compost" arrangement has to change. He won't be using a lot of compost in future. His gardening will mean "pottering" in the containers he has at waist height - when he has the energy. I suspect he will get a little planting done and I will have to keep them watered and weeded. 
But if we can keep him at home and he can do at least some of the things he did before then he will be a much happier cat. Yesterday I looked at someone I know. She moved into a nursing home about seven or eight months ago. Her children insisted. They said she couldn't cope alone...and no, they are too busy to help her. She loathes the nursing home, misses her pots and her cat (who now lives with the neighbours) and her neighbours "popping in and out". With a bit of help she could have stayed where she was but her family took the easy way out. 
I don't want to do that. I hope my brother can help with the  garden issues when he arrives in a few weeks time - and that the Senior Cat can go on "pottering"for a while yet. 

Thursday 28 September 2017

The lights went out

in this state twelve months ago.
I was giving a friend a cup of tea. She had lost her husband not long beforehand and, as was her habit, had called in for a cup of tea on her way home from teaching. 
We have a gas cook top and an electric oven. It was a deliberate choice. My mother was of the view that, if you had both gas and electricity then you always had the possibility of making that cup of tea. She didn't actually drink tea herself but that was beside the point. Other people do. They might need it.
And W... needed those cups of tea. She has moved to the other side of the city now and we don't see her as often but, when she can, she will come for lunch and talk to the Senior Cat about those things which are more of their generation than mine.
As the power outage was still on when she left and obviously wide spread I gave her a thermos of hot water as well. It was just as well. It was hours before the power went on again. 
There was renewed talk then of the need for a state-wide "disaster plan". Nothing has happened.
There are other parts of the world where there are disaster plans. There are disaster plans for various scenarios. They work with varying degrees of efficacy - some of them are very little use but others are better.  There is always some chaos in a disaster but at least something is there.
I wonder how we would manage here though? Yesterday the internet connection kept dropping out. It dropped out seven times in the afternoon alone and then twice more before I gave up and switched off. It is off as I am typing this at 7am. I may get lucky and publish it in a moment - when I have had to manually reconnect yet again. I wonder what will happen in the summer when I am doing my turn on emergency duty for a group of people with disabilities who are alone during the day? Doing duty means depending on an internet connection which allows me to monitor a website that will tell me about the need for people to evacuate. So far we have only ever had to evacuate one person - but what if there were more?
I know that the internet connection is not just about power being available. The power didn't go out at all yesterday - but the company which supplies the connection is more concerned with making a profit than providing a reliable service. They know there is nothing customers can do  because all other companies are also intent on providing a minimum service for maximum profit. 
But, in a disaster, that could be a disaster. Our modern world relies heavily on power - power that provides the capacity for people to communicate in all sorts of ways.
We have lost that small village communication capacity. Yes, everyone knew the business of everyone else but it also meant that, when help was needed, it was much more likely to happen.
The power has gone out in more ways than one - and we urgently need a disaster plan before it is too late. 

Wednesday 27 September 2017

I loathe mobile phones

with a passion. I know they can be used wisely as a safety device and that they are often convenient but they seem to be taking over.
I have one but it is for a strictly limited purpose. It is there for the Senior Cat or Middle Cat to contact me when I am out - and only then if it is urgent. I turn it off apart from that.
This puzzles people. Don't you want to leave it on all the time? No. What if someone else needs to contact you? They can try again on the home phone later. If the Senior Cat is home he will take a message on the home phone and I'll get back to you.
When I am out I am out doing something. I won't answer the phone if I am riding my trike. I need to keep my limited wits about me and avoid people who back out of driveways without looking or  drivers who don't notice anything other than another car - and sometimes not even that. If I am in the supermarket, the post office or the library then I am doing something else and I don't want to be distracted by someone telling me about something unimportant - however interesting we might both find it.
I thought the Senior Cat and Middle Cat were the only people with the number. It seems not. Yesterday I had two phone calls. The first came from a representative of a local real estate agency. She started to excitedly tell me that she had just sold a house around the corner from had she got my number? The Senior Cat would not have given it to her. Middle Cat would not have given it to her. The only answer is that the phone company has given it to her - along with my details. I told her this. She denied it. She claimed I had given it to her. I have put in a formal complaint about that.
The other came from the team trying to drum up support for the same-sex marriage vote. There can be no doubt at all that they have managed to buy, beg, borrow or steal some phone lists. What is more the voice at the other end was, if anything, even more pushy than the girl from the real estate company. I told them I had passed in my ballot paper. They wanted to know how I had voted. I told them it was none of their business and that no, I was not going to support the campaign one way or another. What people think about that issue is their private affair. And, I asked how they had got my number. They had of course been given a long list of numbers to call. 
The time and money that is wasted intruding on other people's lives doesn't seem to even occur to these people. 
And it makes me angry that someone, somewhere has  handed out information about me that was not supposed to be shared. No doubt they have been paid well for it too.

Tuesday 26 September 2017

Loyalty is usually seen

as a good thing. Supporting others is  usually seen as a good thing. There are "loyalty" cards from shops - where you supposedly get perks for being a regular shopper and plenty more besides.
And then there is loyalty to your football know, the one you "barrack" for. You buy the team scarf, cap, flag and other "gear" at highly inflated prices to "support" your team. 
Years ago, when I first started teaching, there was almost no such merchandise available. I taught all the ten and eleven year old children in my class to knit and they made themselves football beanies in their team colours. 
They all supported the same team so there was a lot of black and white in the room. They tended to see the world in terms of black and white too - I was attempting to change that, gradually. 
I wonder what they do now though. I doubt they knit their own beanies. They wouldn't be "official" you see. 
Having the "official" gear is apparently important - and the cost is part of "supporting" your team.  
The same is true of attending the matches. Going to a match is expensive. 
This morning's paper is full of an upcoming "final" for which supporters are apparently prepared to pay not just hundreds but even thousands of dollars to see their team play.  Apparently people are prepared to pay to travel interstate to do it too. This means hundreds of dollars in airfares - at inflated prices because of the demand - and the ticket to the match plus all the associated expenses. The minimum cost for a ticket was over three hundred dollars - and apparently you would have to be incredibly fortunate to get one that cheaply.  Some tickets in prime viewing positions are apparently going for almost ten times that price.
I don't know anyone who has a ticket to the match. I don't know anyone who would be willing to pay that much. Most people I know also know that they can't afford to spend that sort of money on a single afternoon's entertainment.
     "It wouldn't be worth it, even if you knew your team was going to win," the Whirlwind informed me yesterday. She doesn't much care for football. 
I asked her if she would pay it to go to a cricket match - something she has, like me, a vague interest in.
     "No, not even my Dad would do that," she told me, "Think of all the things you could have forever with that sort of money."
And yes, it is a thought.
Her father said to me, "I'd rather spend the money paying off the mortgage."
I know other people's priorities are different. For them, their team is everything. They are devoted and fiercely loyal in a way I won't ever understand.
But it does seem like an awful lot of money - and what if your team doesn't win? 

Monday 25 September 2017

The Craft and Quilt fair is

over for another year. I hope it isn't over forever - but it might be, at least for me.
I have spent the last four days at our state show grounds helping out on the stall belonging to my good friend Prudence Mapstone. It has been a wonderful excuse for my paws to caress yarn and more yarn. It has been a chance to talk to people about knitting and crochet, to help some of them choose a crochet hook or a knitting needle or some of the  lovely buttons that were for sale. 
Some people even bought yarn.
BUT - and yes that "but" needs to be in capital letters" - people did not buy very much. 
I know that what my friend sells is not cheap - but it is very reasonably priced given what it is. It is very high quality yarn with a difference. She has gone out of her way to source yarn which is different, yarn which is not available in the shops, yarn which will challenge the knitter and crocheter. Instead of "just wool" she has sourced linen, silk, kid-mohair, alpaca, possum and quiviut. The cotton she stocks is chosen specifically for certain types of crochet work. Yes, there is a little sock wool - and those tiny balls of it are great fun to add to heels and toes of socks! 
There has been a lot of research and hard work go into my friend's stall. It isn't simply a matter of "buying a lot of stuff and putting it out" as some people seem to think. There are many matters to consider before something goes on to the stall for sale. 
Knowing that what she sells is different my friend has also produced a range of "one/two-skein" and "one/two-ball" projects - scarves, mittens, hats, shawls, a vest or two. A good many of those projects have been designed, knitted and written up by me...and yes, I get the money for the patterns for my friends in Africa. It's been a good fundraiser to date.
But not this year. Perhaps people are tired of craft fairs. There was another one earlier in the year and, in all honesty, the city I live in can only support one in a year - if it can even support that. 
The guild I belong to has had a presence at both. The first one allowed guild members to sell things. This one didn't. It was for advertising purposes only. I don't see the first one continuing to allow sales by guilds either. Why should they? The other stall holders, rightly, don't like it. They have come to sell their products. Guild items weren't made from those. People would not spend the amount required to sell an item and even get back the cost of the yarn - let alone anything for actually making something. 
Someone asked me how much I thought one of the vests I had made would sell for commercially. I told her what the yarn would cost - and that alone had her shaking her head. When I said "and times that by three at least" she was horrified. I then pointed out that what I was wearing and what my friend was wearing would, if worked out even just that way, cost far more she said, "I suppose it's why this sort of thing doesn't sell in the shops".  
I suppose it might sell in galleries - occasionally.  What had not seemed to occur to this woman is that this is why the  yarn is sold - so that people can make their own.
Making your own - for yourself, or for other people - is about owning something special and perhaps unique. It is about perhaps giving someone something special. And yes, if you are really good at your craft - like one reader of this blog - you may be fortunate and find a gallery willing to carry a little of your work. It will however be hard work - as that same reader knows.  
So, to all of you who go to such events and wander past a display and think "that's nice" try thinking a little further as well. Try thinking about the work involved, why those yarns were chosen, and why the colours within those yarns were chosen, that someone had to pack, price, and label - and that records have to be kept. Think about the fact that the stalls have to be set up - a day's work in itself - and then taken down again.
Yes, it's hard work - and it needs your support if you are going to benefit from it. 

Sunday 24 September 2017

"She's wearing the pink tablecloth,"

I heard someone say.
Well yes, it is a quilt and craft fair and I suppose people do wear some interesting things - but a pink tablecloth?
I am a conservative dresser. I loathe fussy, frilly clothes. I prefer plain to floral. I don't like lace. 
I don't mind making those things - for other people. I never wear them. 
Other people must. Well, they do. I have seen some in the past three days. I know I will see more today. There is every sort of garment imaginable at such events. It is fun trying to guess what crafts people are interested in from the way they dress.
The dressmakers tend to be a little more conservative in their style. The quilters go for more colour. People who do "messy" crafts which involve glue and paper and the like tend to wear jeans and wild necklaces they have made themselves. People who smock tend to wear very neat clothing... and all of that can be completely wrong.
There was the man wandering around yesterday wearing jeans and a t-shirt advertising a group of some sort. He was wearing a rather wild beanie and carrying some shopping which positively shouted, "I'm a quilter!" He bought a crochet hook from me - and told me he makes his living as fibre artist in another part of the world. He just happened to be on holiday here and saw the fair advertised. 
There was the girl who came along with her father. I wondered what the story was there. They were very close and when I inquired about whether someone could teach her what she wanted to learn she said very quietly, "My mum died. My dad and I will do it from the internet."  I hope she finds people to help too. If they lived here then I could have offered more help.
There were people in wheelchairs who needed help to reach things. There was the Down Syndrome girl who could crochet and wanted a crochet hook in a different size. Did we have a red one? She went off beaming. A visually impaired woman admitted she hated asking for help choosing big buttons, "But I can still see well enough to sew those on." 
There was a very elderly woman who looked a little odd. I couldn't quite work it out until I realised that she looked as if she had stepped out of the 1920's. Her style, down to the hair net on her dyed hair, was exactly that of the older woman then.  I wonder if she often dresses that way?
It was all fascinating. 
But, I kept looking for the person wearing the pink tablecloth.

Saturday 23 September 2017

The man who allegedly headbutted the former Prime Minister

Tony Abbott has done himself no favours. He has also been given far too much publicity. 
I would like to see him given a lengthy custodial sentence. It is more likely he will be given a rap over the knuckles, perhaps a good behaviour bond and a suspended sentence at the most. The courts will say they don't want to make a martyr of him.
This man says it had nothing to do with the marriage equality debate. He says he just saw the former Prime Minister, a man he apparently loathes, and decided to "have a go" at him. Really? 
It's possible but I suspect it is all a bit more complicated than that.
Whatever the reasons I think there is a need to send a very strong message that it is not acceptable to use violence. 
Unprovoked violence is even more disturbing. 
The Senior Cat comes close to being a pacifist. He won't read war books or watch war films either. He would defend his family and, when younger, anyone weaker than himself. He would never have initiated violence.  At school he was apparently known for being the one to try and negotiate a peace deal. He went on doing it into his adult life - having the example of his parents and other relatives.
We have grown up the same way. Don't pick a physical fight.
That doesn't mean we won't argue. In a couple of weeks from now I will be getting up to say something that may well lead to an argument. Nevertheless I have thought carefully about what I want to say and have taken the trouble to prepare it. I won't lash out physically.
The media has made much of the alleged attack. It is almost as if they admire the man who is said to have hit out. The incident is being used. I suppose that's inevitable but it makes me angry. They know what they are doing.
Words have consequences. When we use them we have to take responsibility for them.

Friday 22 September 2017

Earthquakes in Mexico,

hurricanes, floods, war...the threat of war...
It goes on.
There's a war going on that is getting very little attention - the war in Yemen. 
I am not going to say anything about the rights or wrongs of that war...all war is wrong.
What I want to say here is that one of the aid workers sent his colleagues (of whom I am one) a message yesterday. Translated it reads like this,
      Today has been the worst day yet. This has been the worst week. We lost 9 children last night - 71 this week. There will be more tonight. There is nothing I can do. We have not enough supplies. The cholera takes them quickly. (Perhaps) better than the slow malnutrition. What am I saving them for? They fear everything....
There is more like that. It's the cry of despair from a man who has seen more horrors than most. He's being pulled out. He's exhausted. His colleagues are exhausted. They can't see an end to the horrors they are seeing. They don't see their job as restoring people to health any more, rather as giving people the best palliative care they can offer when they have nothing to offer. 
How can people be so determined to gain power and control that they can allow that amount of suffering to occur?  There will be an entire generation of children who are malnourished, who aren't getting a proper education  - and will be too malnourished to get the benefit they should get from an education if it becomes available. They will be so traumatised that they they may never recover.
Yes, all war and disaster zones are like that  but we seem to be forgetting the one in Yemen...and that young doctor is suffering the consequences. It's his country, the country he was born in. He thought he could cope but the effect on aid workers can be terrible too. 
A  Rohingya refugee here spends his days in the library at a computer. He is trying to get support for the plight of his fellow Rohingya but he is also surprisingly wary of what he says.
      "Do not say Aung San Suu Kyi is doing nothing," he told me. "She has almost no power. The army rule Burma. If she says too much or if she says the wrong thing then the army will put her under house arrest again." 
And yes, they probably will. 
There are limits to the power of people like the young aid worker to endure. There are limits to the power of people like the Aung San Suu Kyi to make changes and demand changes from others.  It is easy from outside a country to say "this is wrong" and then "change it" but there is so much we don't know.  

Thursday 21 September 2017

The "get well" card

is on two pieces of bright red cardboard. There are brightly coloured fish, an octopus under some pieces of white polystyrene "seaweed", another octopus avoiding the fish, a whale rising out of the water. There are tiny little fluffy balls which are sea urchins. It's a work of art.
It has also been made with that glorious determination of small children to  get something "just right". 
Our young neighbour is nearly four. He's smart, funny - and kind. He has highly intelligent parents who are kind and concerned and he is learning from their care and concern. His mother is a paediatrician - but she "doesn't mind the odd bit of gerontology" when it comes to a neighbour. I am grateful for that. I won't call on her services except in an extreme emergency. That would be wrong but she has made it clear that she is, in such an emergency, available. 
Yesterday she brought young T.... and his baby brother over so that the card could be delivered. I admired it properly. A moment ago I was able to honestly tell T... that the Senior Cat was impressed.  And it is the sort of thing he will treasure. He still has drawings his grandsons did for him.
And it reminded me that, tucked away, I have a "portrait" of me done by a three year old. I reminded the artist's sister of this several years ago. She responded by saying, "And I still have the cat you drew for me - your special one."
I am no artist. I don't try to be but I can draw those vaguely cat-like squiggles and K.... had kept it. I had come back to Downunder and her mother wrote and asked, "Can you draw K.... one of your cats?" Of course I could...although I thought she would lose it when she had tried it for herself...but she didn't....
and that means much more than the shapes on the paper. 

Tuesday 19 September 2017

The Senior Cat is now home from hospital

and although they might have kept him there a little longer I am relieved to have him here. We did wonder about a week's respite for me but he would absolutely hate, loathe and detest a nursing home. He would also have gone without a grumble but he is intellectually too sharp to endure one of those places for long.
The ambulance staff who took him to hospital were lovely. The nursing staff were kind and helpful. The consultant physician just laughed when he mistook her for a nurse. ("Well how was I to know. She was wearing a stripey jumper the first time I saw her.")  His only complaint was the food - and that is universally considered to be "dreadful". He has strong views on porridge - having Scots ancestry - and bread is not "some white chewy stuff". There was no toast. He does not eat pork so the "roast pork" meal was not much use to him either. 
I made bread today (or the machine did) and proper soup with a lot of "things" in it. Tomorrow he can shepherd's pie (comfort food) and on Thursday it will be tuna mornay - which I will make tomorrow.
Also tomorrow we have someone coming to help  him shower three times a week for the next fortnight. He hasn't the energy to do that himself at present - and we might assess the situation at the end of that time. 
I am due to help my friend at the craft fair on Thursday until Sunday but I won't stay as long as I usually do.  
Now I am waiting for him to curl up on his sleeping mat again - then I can go and curl up on mine. We both need a lot of catnap right now!
But, before I prowl off, I would like to sincerely thank everyone for the good wishes. It does make a difference and, as I said in the comments on the last post "thinking of you" - however it is put - is a very important phrase in any language. Thanks.

Saturday 16 September 2017

The Senior Cat is in hospital

Normal blog services will resume shortly I hope... I had to call an ambulance last night. We both have an influenza virus of some sort (despite vaccinations) and he needed much more help than I could give him. 
Ambulance people wonderful but I was at the hospital until 11:45 pm and need to go back shortly as he doesn't even have his glasses.
This cat is planning on prowling back to full health rapidly. I don't have time to be ill.

Friday 15 September 2017

Planning permission

is a minefield.
There is a story in this morning's paper which, if correct, is one of the worst possible examples of the mess our local planning laws are in.  
If it is correct then a new  house will be demolished. It will be demolished although it was approved on three separate occasions.  There is nothing wrong with the house - but the neighbours don't like it. They say it intrudes on their privacy - despite measures being put in place to screen them.
The editor of the paper, who wrote the story, has suggested that the council should be paying for the mess to be cleaned up. They approved the building through the relevant department.
I am inclined to agree.
I went to see someone recently. She showed me the foundations which had been poured for the new house being built next door. In order to do this their own fence had been taken down - without their permission. Fortunately they don't have a dog but, if there had been a dog, who would have been responsible? The foundations also come up almost to the very boundary line. Yes, it is going to be intrusive.
They knew none of this before the foundations were laid. I doubt she or her husband could read a plan even if they had been given one. The plans are there for the builders, for the architect, the council planners and the department to work on. 
The woman in question is reluctant to complain. She doesn't want to upset the people who will be her new neighbours, especially as they are of a different ethnic background. The new house will however have a negative impact on the value of their property. It should not have been allowed to  happen either.
In the case in the paper it seems the owners of the house to be demolished have, if the report is correct, attempted to do the right thing. When a complaint was made they modified the design - twice. They gained approval. That should have been enough. The planning people did a u-turn on the last complaint. If correct then yes, the council needs to take some responsibility for what has happened. The owners are now hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt through no fault of their own. 
I don't know where that will go. I suspect the owners will lose because  to make the council liable will open up a huge area of litigation that nobody will want.
But I wonder what would have happened if similar action had been taken over some of the houses we were forced to live in when I was a kitten. The Senior Cat  was sent to rural areas. There was no housing available there so the government provided fibro-asbestos houses. They were the cheapest possible kind of house that could be built. The walls are thin. There is no insulation. I know that at least one of these houses is more than sixty years old and still being lived in although it was considered "temporary".  I imagine it still has the old "Metters no. 5" wood burning stove - and perhaps even the wood-chip hot water  heater in the bathroom?  
There was one house we lived in where the builders had failed to clear the land properly. The houses are built on little stilts and the trees were struggling to grow back underneath. Middle Cat and I spent two years sleeping on mattresses on the floor because there was no way to get beds into the bedroom. Our parents had single beds head to toe against the wall of another room. The house was, supposedly, new. There had been no oversight of the building of it though so the inexperienced builders had simply done something they thought  was good enough - skimping at the same time.
In another place the beds has to go in through the windows. That might happen in old, narrow houses in Europe - but in a new house in Downunder? The roof leaked there too - because the builders hadn't followed the plans.
Planning permission is essential. We would be in a mess without it.
It seems we can be in a mess with it too.

Thursday 14 September 2017

"Franklin's Flying Bookshop"

is one of those glorious, quirky, stay-with-you books that all children - young and old - should experience. The author, Jen Campbell, has outdone herself this time.
Franklin flew in to visit me this week. I had been prowling impatiently as I waited for him to arrive. Would the postman bring him today? No. Tomorrow? No. Now? Yes!
I had been hearing reports about this impeccably well mannered dragon with exquisite reading tastes and I wanted to meet him. He did not disappoint me.
He is just my sort of dragon. I have been especially fond of dragons ever since reading Rosemary Manning's "Green Smoke" as a child. What sort of dragon would Jen have written about? The answer was both simple and complex. 
Franklin likes to read. He wants to read stories to people -  but people are afraid of him. Then he meets a small human, Luna. Luna likes dragons and together....  I won't spoil the rest of the story. Read it for yourself.
I passed Franklin over to the Senior Cat. At 94 the Senior Cat has not outgrown picture books. He still enjoys reading them. If there were small humans around who needed stories to be read to them he would tell them about Franklin with the greatest of pleasure. He has already said we must get more copies of the book to pass on to those who live in far away places. 
What was it about the book he liked I asked. He smiled and said, "It reminds me of AA Milne. It has that same sort of quirkiness, the quirkiness which stays with you. I like the idea of a dragon being able to read by the light of the moon....of using a bookcase as a door to keep the wind out..."
I really don't want to say more about the story. 
It's a book about differences and accepting those differences. It is a book about what others have to offer and a book about books and what they have to offer. It is a book filled with wonderful images - and yes, those illustrations by Katie Harnett complement the text in just the way they should. Franklin is the most excellently drawn dragon. Luna's delight in meeting you is obvious.
Thank you Jen. Franklin's here for a very long visit!

Wednesday 13 September 2017

Silical gel pads should not be

put into washing machines.
Do not ask why this happened. Let it just be said that your resident cat has spent the last 40 or so minutes cleaning up the resultant mess.  
I have discovered a lot about silica gel in the process - and I hope I do not discover any more. I just hope it has not irrevocably harmed the washing machine. It is going through another cycle right now and it appears to be working. 
I have also swept and vacuumed the laundry floor. 
And I did not get cross with the Senior Cat because he felt bad enough anyway.
Normal blog service will resume tomorrow.

Tuesday 12 September 2017

"Bodies of "hundreds" of children buried

in mass grave" the headline read. It was a story about a find in St Mary's Cemetery in Lanark, Scotland.
People pounced and immediately started to say what dreadful people the nuns who had been responsible for the children must have been.
Were they really dreadful people? A little thought might have caused people to at least hesitate before writing something on social media.
Smyllum Park Orphanage apparently opened in 1864 and closed in 1981. During that time 11,600 children passed through the orphanage. Most of the deaths occurred  up to about 1930 - look at the health and social conditions from 1864 to 1930. Look at the conditions the children came from.
I don't doubt that some abuse occurred during that time. And yes, nuns are human. I know some. They aren't saints. The nuns I know are good people and the abuse of a child would cause them deep distress but those of them who have taught would no doubt have smacked a child forty or fifty years ago. That is the way things were done then - and not just by nuns. If that sort of behaviour is abusive then I was severely abused because "discipline" from one of my teachers left me with bruises. (I was, sin of sins, writing left handed.) I don't condone it but, to read some of the comments, you would think all nuns were involved, that none of them were kind or caring, and that nobody else ever abused a child.
Children were sent to those places for any variety of reasons and abuse was one of them. They were also orphaned or their parents simply could not afford to care for them. 
Illness went through orphanages like wildfire. The children often arrived in a very poor state of health. Diseases like measles, rubella and whooping cough - and more - would spread rapidly. When undernourished children who were already prone to things like  bronchitis caught influenza there was little hope for many of them. Most of the deaths recorded are for things like TB, pneumonia and pleurisy but all those other things were also an ever present danger.
Nuns didn't, as some have tried to suggest, deliberately try and deny children help. They were fighting poverty as well as disease. The orphanages were often overcrowded and food, clothing, warmth and more were in short supply. They didn't have time to give children the love they so desperately needed either.
 The Catholic church has come under a great deal of scrutiny in recent years and under a great deal of criticism because of that scrutiny. Much of it is deserved but there is also much which is not.
I am not a Catholic but it concerns me that there has  been so little good said about people who tried to do good - or, at very least, what they honestly believed to be right.
There was a Catholic orphanage near the home of my paternal grandparents. My grandfather, a devout Presbyterian and Elder of the church for many years, would buy and deliver cases of fruit to the orphanage. Unlike many other people he was aware that there was not enough money to feed the children properly. He knew that the fruit he delivered was only about enough for one piece each. He would visit clients in the hills behind - where the fruit was grown - and come back with a box each time. 
I know he didn't think of it as any form of social service or in any way a gift to the Catholic church. All he saw were children who needed food.
And that food meant something. Years later I gave a talk to a group of women, some of whom had been at the orphanage and one woman told me suddenly (in the middle of my talk) "I know who you are! Your grandfather was responsible for the first orange I ever ate." She must surely have eaten many oranges since then but that first orange stayed in her memory even though she would never have met my grandfather.
I wonder what would happen if there were the same orphanages now? Would the children get fruit? They probably would. If it was supplied by people like my grandfather - who would simply leave it at the door, ring the bell and then walk rapidly off before he could even be thanked - then I wonder what people would make of him. I suspect it wouldn't be kind. People would question why he was doing it.
I think one of the problems too is that people have questioned why the nuns were doing what they were doing. Our friend P.... has said that she was "excited" the day she entered her order - even though she never expected to go home again. The Senior Cat finds that impossible to comprehend and I find it very, very difficult. It makes me wonder though whether some of those who are so ready to criticise just simply don't understand. Do they really believe that the deaths of the children meant nothing at all to the nuns who were caring for them? I don't believe they didn't care.

Monday 11 September 2017

I have "terremoto" and

"hurac'an" in my work emails right now. I also have  "cicl'on" and "ouragan"and "orkaan" and more. You will need to pardon the proper use of "accents" here as I can't seem to get diacritical marks to come together on Blogger. 
It doesn't matter anyway. All those people who need to read those words with the proper markings are there or on their way or waiting to be able to go. They have their communication boards ready - just in case they are needed.  In most cases they won't be needed. People will speak Spanish or French or Dutch or English. They will be able to communicate with the local community. They know that some people will be so traumatised they can't stop talking - and that, for the same reason, others won't talk at all. 
There are injuries to deal with - but some of those injuries won't be visible. There is an awful lot of clearing up to do - but some people won't know how to begin. There is a lot of rebuilding to do - but some people won't know where to start. 
Aid work is complex. Yes, you can send the armed services in and order them around - but even that has problems. You can't order civilians around like that, especially traumatised and injured civilians.
I thought of all that again in the middle of the night when I was trying to sort out a problem. Someone who has never been on the ground in a disaster said, "Why can't you just get the people who are there to do it?"
My answer, and the answer of the engineer going in to assess the damage, was, "Because they can't. In the normal way they could but they are in shock. People in shock don't function as they normally would."
In a disaster people who have been through the earthquake or the flood or the fire or the landslide or something else may appear to be functioning normally but that isn't necessarily so. They can be so traumatised that they cannot make decisions - or they will make the wrong decision. People are angry because they are frightened. Tempers are short. 
Even the people at the top, the people whose job it is to deal with a national emergency, will have problems. The people who go in to help may feel overwhelmed too. It's not simple.
But, if you see people you think should be helping themselves and apparently not doing so, please be patient. Please understand that they aren't lazy and that they do want things to improve. It's just that they can't cope with the situation just yet. Most of them will come to it but it takes a little time. 
Until then they need help - all the positive and practical help they can get. 

Sunday 10 September 2017

Defrosting the freezer

is definitely NOT one of those jobs I enjoy. Nevertheless I am about to embark on the adventure this morning. It is a job I like to get out of the way as quickly as possible.
I am not one of those household fanatics who keeps an exact list of what I have in the freezer. I know just one person like that. She has everything arranged in an incredibly orderly fashion. It is all labelled and dated and used in rotation - and she defrosts the freezer once every eight weeks. Her fridge gets scrubbed out weekly, the bathrooms are done every day. Her hobby is housework. She has, apparently, nothing else to do.
I have too many other things to do.
I do know approximately what is in the freezer. I also know approximately where to find it. The occasional thing escapes me. I put it all down more to a reasonably good memory and, perhaps, good luck rather than good housekeeping.
The freezer is elderly. I talk nicely to it. I want it to keep putting along for a while yet. 
We bought it when there were still six of us at home. It allowed my mother, who did most of the cooking then, to cook up meals at weekends ready for the rest of the week. She worked full time as the head of a school so this was important when she didn't like other people in the kitchen. When the Senior Cat retired the freezer also started to contain more garden produce. It was my job to prepare and freeze that. I have gone on doing it, although the last few  years have seen less produce. The Senior Cat has  been able to do less gardening and looking after him has meant I don't have as much time either. The garden is his hobby too. I don't like to interfere. 
Now the freezer contains things like "emergency" meals. There are things like soup or stew or home made pasties that I only need to defrost if I have been out.  Such things will be useful tomorrow when I need to be dismantling the displays at the show grounds and the Senior Cat will need something that can just be heated in the microwave oven. There is ice cream too -  something the Senior Cat is fond of and I will admit I like it. This year there were enough plums to freeze some - but not enough apricots. The apricot tree is old and now needs to be replaced - but we both hate seeing a tree come out.
I wonder how busy families cope without a freezer. Yes, we have had to pay for the electricity to run it but it has saved both money and time. We haven't had to buy pre-prepared meals in packs either.

Saturday 9 September 2017

I was making poppies

yesterday.  One of the local library staff asked me if the knitting group at the library could make some for the display the library does each year. She has always made them from paper and then discarded them after the display. Would something more substantial last a little longer?
I said I would talk to the group about it but then I realised that I wouldn't actually be at the next meeting as I will be working at a craft fair. I emailed a couple of people. Yes, they would think about it too. We need to get the group Christmas tree finished as well. 
As I had finished a project that was on the "urgent because I am teaching" list I decided to take the poppy making materials down to the show grounds. I was doing a few hours down there so that the convenors in the art and craft area could go to a formal lunch. Middle Cat was also taking the Senior Cat for a few hours and I wanted to be on hand in case help was needed.
The poppies are bright red of course. They attract attention. I had hoped they might. People were interested. They are simple to make - three small rounds of crochet in this particular pattern. There are other patterns.
The War Memorial in Canberra also wants 60,000 - and other places (like the library) need them too. I have been told that, across the country, they will be looking for about 600,000 for various events and venues.  I made eight yesterday - in between sorting out queries and problems. I'll make a few more in odd moments. 
If you are interested this is a link to a site with a lot of information about them. Scroll down a bit and you will find a link to patterns - some simple, some not so simple.
If you can knit or crochet or sew and you live in Downunder - can you make a few?
Here's the link 

Friday 8 September 2017

The "same sex marriage" survey

has been ruled on by the High Court and the finding has been in the government's favour. 
That means ALL Downunderites on the present electoral roll will be able to have their say on whether legislation should be put before parliament to make it possible for same sex couples to  marry. 
I am not going to comment "for" or "against" here but there are some other things I would like to say.
The first thing is. The "vote" is not compulsory - but if you don't have your say then you can't complain about the result. I know there are people out there demanding a boycott of the survey. That is, to my way of thinking, ill informed and dangerous. If you feel that strongly about the issue then vote "for" or "against". Don't simply say, "It's the government's job to do this." The government will do it. The present government went to the election promising people would have their say. They are now getting their say. It isn't quite in the form that was originally intended but the result will be the same in the end. Demanding people boycott the survey is rather like saying we have no right to select those who will represent us. Those people are our servants, not our masters. Is there really something wrong with telling them what we want them to do? 
I know, it's a bit like the issue of a "republic" - the referendum on that failed. A majority of people in all states and territories told the government they didn't want one. Did it  shut the "yes" campaign up? No. They simply tried to say "it was the way the question was worded". That was nonsense because  the question arose out of a meeting of the people in Canberra - people who had been elected to put forward their point of view. Believe me, that meeting was stacked in favour of becoming a republic and it was the question which was thought to have the best chance of succeeding.  
The "yes" campaign genuinely looks like succeeding this time. But what if it doesn't? The "yes" campaigners have already said that, if it doesn't, they expect the government to legislate in favour anyway. They are already saying that parliament "must" legislate. The Leader of the Opposition, who earlier supported a people's say on the issue, is saying that his next government will legislate in favour of it anyway - whatever the outcome. 
I wonder what would happen then if 90% of the electorate return their voting paper and 90% of those were not in favour? Would he still ignore the will of the people.
A ten year old was talking to me about this. He takes a mild interest in the political process. His parents talk to him. His comment to me went along the lines of, "Yes, but if people voted no and he did it anyway isn't that wrong?"
Is it?

Thursday 7 September 2017

Intruding on grief or

argument or anything else which should remain private should not be done.
I was hoping to get a photograph taken yesterday. I need a photograph of the item  I am going to teach people to make next summer and I need it fairly quickly. Our neighbour across the road told me to "bring it over when it's finished and I'll do it".  She would too - but not yesterday. 
I noticed they had been out and thought to myself, "Maybe I can go over after lunch and ask."
But their car didn't go back into the garage. That was a bit odd. Even if they are going out again they usually put the car under cover.
And then, going to get the advertising leaflets which had blown across the lawn, I noticed that  there was a large "ding" in the right hand side at the front. Someone has obviously hit the car. 
It was equally obvious that the car was able to be driven but the damage is nevertheless obvious. 
The last thing they needed was me there asking for a photograph to be taken when the driver would have been feeling shaken and they would both have been upset. I left it. I may ask Middle Cat to help instead.
And it made me think of the headlines in yesterday's paper. There was a story about some boys from a fee paying school who have done something very, very stupid. It is something which, if they have any sense at all, they will regret for the rest of their lives. Two of them will be facing court as a result of their stupidity.  They are at the end of their schooling. Weeks out from their final exams they have been expelled and others have been suspended.
And the media intruded on all this. "They deserve it," someone told me yesterday, "They're just over-privileged rich kids. Most of them are like that."
I happen to know that this is far from true but the media has intruded because it makes a good news story. There has been no thought at all for the vast majority of decent, well mannered, hard working students at the school. Nothing was mentioned in the media when some of them went to help  in another serious situation. Those I know who knew about that just shrugged and said, "Well, so they should."
We all make mistakes. We all make errors of judgment. We all do the wrong thing sometimes. We all intrude when we are not aware or when we shouldn't.
I wonder though whether we need to learn not to take action sometimes - or, at very least, delay it?

Wednesday 6 September 2017

How does the union movement

amass a $1.5bn "war chest"? 
Union membership is falling but it seems that unions are still doing extremely well with respect to money.  Apparently the new source of money is "superannuation".
To say that I am appalled they are using the money of their members in this way is putting it mildly. Superannuation funds are supposed to be there to provide for income support in retirement. They are not there to provide funds for political campaigns - even if you agree with what they are campaigning over and the way they go about it.
Union membership was once compulsory for many people. It was "no ticket, no job". Paying  union dues was something you expected to do. In a sense it was another form of taxation. 
Unions also had a job to do. They would argue they still have a job to do.
Realistically though union power has declined along with membership. There are other means of ensuring that the rights (and privileges) of workers are protected. There are tribunals and commissions involved. The courts have more power because of legislative changes. The mainstream media and social media can put great pressure on employers to do the right thing. 
That doesn't mean that unions have nothing to offer. They still have a role to play. It is just that it is no longer the role that it once was. It has altered. Their power has diminished in some areas - and rightly so. Their purpose in others - such as Occupational Health and Safety training - should have increased. They should not be seen as the alternative government or have the right to dictate to employers how things will be done.
Of course they would still like to be seen that way and as having that power but things have changed - and they must remain changed.  
That $1.5bn should be used for the benefit of members. It should not be used so that a few at the top can grab power and  use it to dictate to the rest of the country.  That means putting the money to work to build up the money workers will have to live a more comfortable retirement. Anything else is theft.

Tuesday 5 September 2017

There has been another "bullying" death

reported in this morning's paper. 
It has come along with reports of the increasingly worrying tension between North Korea and the United States. The leaders of both those countries are bullies...and I would say the same thing about the current Prime Minister here as well as the Leader of the Opposition. I suspect it is how some people get to the top. They bully other people.
School bullying would appear to be an increasing problem. It is said that it is easier now, that the use of things like social media have made it easier. Yes, that is part of the problem. 
Another part of the problem is that students are being made much more aware of it as an issue. There are "anti-bullying" programs. There are "safe-school" programs, "cultural diversity awareness" programs - and more.  I sometimes wonder whether these aren't having an opposite effect to the one intended. 
And it also seems that, because of these programs, some adults seem to believe the problem no longer exists. 
A couple of years ago I was talking to someone in the local shopping centre. Her son had just started at the local high school. He is a quiet, studious boy. He comes from a quiet, studious family. Suddenly school was living hell for him. He was being bullied. His lunch was taken from him and stamped into the ground. He was shoved head first into the toilet bowl and the toilet was flushed. His shirts were torn off. His other belongings were scattered and broken.
The school took the attitude that "the students know bullying is wrong. We have an anti-bullying program. If you say any more it will just get worse for your son."
I wonder how many other parents have been told the same thing? I wonder how many other students have been told the same thing too? How many students are simply saying nothing because they are too afraid to speak up?
We have seen the same sort of thing in the media recently - particularly over the "same-sex marriage" debate. People who have spoken out against it  have been threatened and, in some instances, their families have been targetted as well. Whatever you believe about the issue that is wrong.  
The parents of the boy in question ended up withdrawing him from the school. He eventually went to another school where the head arranged for several other students to watch out for him but the experience in the first secondary school has almost certainly marked him for life. His parents are still worried about him although they try not to show it. 
Last week a slightly older group of teens I know invited him to join their group on an outing. He doesn't knit the way they do but he makes the most exquisite paper models. They were going to do a demonstration of their varied skills and they said he should join them. It took a bit of persuasion but he went to the event and showed much younger children how to do some simple origami. He also worked on one of his more complex designs. His mother tells me he came home and actually talked to her about what he had done. That's a huge leap forward. He's been invited to go again and told them that, subject to parental approval, he will.
But it shouldn't have taken that. He should have a group of friends his own age who can appreciate that he's just a little bit different and very skilled in his own way. So yes, I still feel concerned for him as well.
I wonder whether people ever think of the potential consequences when they bully, when they make unkind remarks. What if this boy had ended up bullying those who were bullying him? Would we  be on the brink of another war here in the suburbs?

Monday 4 September 2017

A bone marrow transplant

has to "match" the recipient. 
I don't know much about these things but I do know that much. Bone marrow transplants were just starting to occur when I was in my teens. By the time I went to the UK to university the research into how they could be done and what they could do was expanding rapidly.  
A registry of potential donors was being set up. There are now 28 million people on that register - and it isn't enough. They could do with 280 million people - and maintaining that sort of register is unfortunately expensive, very expensive. People move, people become ill, they have accidents, they die. All those things may mean they are no longer suitable or available as donors. It is the same for all medical donations. And nobody wants the sort of "big brother is watching you" approach that would allow governments to keep all citizens in mind for potential donations.
I was thinking about this yesterday because I went to visit a friend in hospital. She is elderly, close to 90. She has heart disease, diabetes, bladder cancer, kidney failure, and other issues. Last year she had a stroke from which she made an extraordinary recovery. From being unable to use her right side she has gone back to knitting - and winning prizes for it - but she is still a very sick woman.  I admire her determination and persistence.
A bone marrow transplant or any other form of transplant will not help her - nor would she want it. Despite being cheerful and delighted to have another visitor she is realistic that she "won't see a hundred". Fair enough. 
I thought about this some more this morning because there is a small paragraph in the paper talking about the death of someone for whom no suitable donor for a bone marrow transplant could be found. Her family was asking that, instead of flowers, people register to be donors.
I think that's a wonderful, practical and sensible idea. I love flowers but I love life even more. Giving life to someone else may allow them to grow flowers.

Sunday 3 September 2017

The "fun police" are apparently

at it again. This time there are queries over a message telling people not to slide or roll down a hill in a park. Those responsible for the park say it has "been there for some time" and that it is to protect all visitors to the park. 
Apparently some years ago someone rolled or slid down the hill into someone else - and that someone else "broke a limb". No, not nice.
But, is it sufficient to stop children - because it will mostly be children who do it -  rolling down the hill? 
Rolling down hills is a childlike thing to do. It's part of the fun of being a child. If you can do it then I imagine it is great and giddy fun. I have never rolled down a hill but I have memories of sliding down sand  hills - and that was fun. We would crawl to the top - even my brother found it too slippery to walk up - and slide down again. FUN! You can't do it in that location any more. The sand hills have gone. There's a huge "retaining" wall to stop erosion and the beach is covered in sea weed - and snakes.  I hope there are other locations where children can still do it.
Reading about the notice telling people not to roll down the hill though I thought, does that mean we should stop children climbing on the "whale" in the local shopping centre? They might fall off and hurt themselves. What about the play equipment at the playground? Oh and you can't possibly let them run anywhere  - although parents do and the small ones do tend to cannon into adults. There have been accidents. But maybe we shouldn't even let children walk anywhere? They might trip over.
Children have been sliding and rolling down hills ever since there have been hills to slide and roll down and children to slide and roll down them.  They have been doing many other potentially dangerous things too. My siblings and I grew up mostly in "the bush" - a place where there were plenty of deadly snakes and spiders, poisonous plants and falling tree limbs. We survived. We would have rolled down hills if there had been any but the landscape was flat. It might have been sheer good luck as we did some crazy things, things our parents often never heard about. It taught us a lot and I suspect we are better and more able adults as a result.
I feel sorry for the children who never get the opportunity to roll down hills or slide down sand hills or climb a tree or make a "cubby" or "wurlie" or some other sort of small house outside. I feel sorry for those who are only allowed to ride their bikes under adult supervision - and for those children who are not allowed to have bikes because it is "too dangerous".
I hope you can still learn to assess the landscape that you live in and do the equivalent of rolling down hills. It's an important experience.

Saturday 2 September 2017

"The yarn is almost as fine as sewing thread"

I tell the woman who has asked about the piece of work displayed in the "best of show" cabinet. It is is the piece of work which has won the "best of the best".
It is an exquisitely fine piece of work, circular with nupps. (The knitters among you will know what I mean - for the rest,  tiny-almost-bobbles made with the yarn. They are particularly used in Estonian lace knitting and are very difficult to make as well as these are made because, to look really good, they need to be absolutely even. These are and there are also a lot of them.) 
I explain how it has been made. I explain the yarn. 
The visitor tells me about the class her group will be doing next year. Someone is coming from another country town near hers to teach them. I ask questions and then tell her about the class I ran. She asks more questions about where I sourced the yarn I used, and how I approached the class. She scribbles notes all the time.
    "Thank you so much," she tells me and goes off to look at more work.
A friend has come to demonstrate. She is good with people. She knows her knitting and crochet and actually judges at another show. We go around the knitting and crochet so I can get her views - yes, she approves of the way the judging was done here too. I knew she would. The two judges have similar approaches and high standards.
I send people off to the photography section. I tell someone else where to find the mosaics. Phew! Sit down for a moment? Crochet a tiny round?
I am half way through the round when the convenor appears. Mild panic. The co-convenor says, "A...'s brought the Governor's wife to have a look. Quick! Name tags!" We scramble for the official name tags and clip them on over the guild names. The "official party", the Governor's wife and her secretary-aide, are looking at things as they move towards us. 
You know when people are genuinely interested don't you? The Governor's wife was. She stopped to look at more than one thing, asking questions of A.... as she did so.
They stop at the "Best in Show" cabinet. A...asks me over, "Can you tell her about the knitting please? She wants to know how it was made."
So I explain. She asks questions. I wanted to know whether she knitted but I wasn't certain it was proper to ask her a question so I just answered the questions and explained why the work was so special.
     "That really is lovely," she told me and her gaze lingered on it a moment longer before she knew she had to move on to admire something else. As she left she though looked back at the piece of the work and smiled again.
I hope we get the opportunity to tell the winner how much the Governor's wife liked it  because it really is a lovely piece of work. 

Friday 1 September 2017

If you want to be a politician

is there really anything wrong with having to prove that you are not the citizen of another country or that you do not have dual citizenship?
Even our Constitutional lawyers are saying that sec 44 of our Downunder Constitution is "out of date". They say that, in the modern world, many people are dual citizens and that it should no longer matter if they are and they want to run for office as a politician.
I disagree. If you want to represent your country, particularly if you want to lead it, then you need to show loyalty towards it. Your nationality needs to be without doubt. 
The leader of the Opposition in our national parliament is refusing to produce proof that he is not a dual citizen. It is unlikely that he is but he needs to show he is not. He is almost certainly refusing to do it because that would put increased pressure on other politicians on his side to do the same - and some of them may have a problem proving they are not dual citizens. There is one particularly high profile one who has refused to produce the necessary documents even  though she has been very active in pursuing the other side over the same issue. Yes, she is probably a legitimate member of the Senate but it is not a good look.
All this comes at a time when this state is set to lose a seat in the federal parliament even while parliament will grow by another seat. It's hardly surprising. The state is not exactly expanding at a rapid rate. Unemployment is much too high, even if the "Steel-town" is set to be saved by someone from abroad. 
We need strong representation. With a population of 1.7m our federal MPs need to represent at least 150,000 people each - some will represent more than that. It's a big task. 
It's a task which requires loyalty and commitment - and people who want to do the job need to be able to show it. 
Changing sec 44 of the Constitution would require a referendum - and it would need to be passed by a majority of people in a majority of the states. History shows Downunderites aren't keen on changes to the Constitution. Any change could be quite a while in coming.