I've always been a good speller. I can't really suggest why, except that I've also always been a voracious reader. My husband, on the other hand cannot spell his way out of a paper bag if his life depended on it. He has no idea of phonics.

I was interested in the old fashioned spelling bee, held by the public schools in New South Wales. Four hundred primary students from across the state took part, and any mistake meant elimination. Juniors, probably about nine years old, were asked to spell words such as rhinoceros, meringue, synonym. Seniors, aged eleven or twelve, had euphemism, isosceles, chameleon.

The junior division was won by Katrina Chau from Guildford West Public School and Ishraq Ahmed from Casula Public School won the senior division. I was interested to see that the junior girl who came second, also said that she was always reading.

These results interest me for two reasons. Both schools would come close to qualifying for funding and special programmes as "disadvantaged schools." They may already be classified as such. Have a look at the winners' names. These would suggest that perhaps they come from homes where English is not the only language spoken or even perhaps, not the main language in the home. Ishraq spoke with quite an accent.

Well done to you both!



Sophie bag felted. Still damp. Pure NZ 8 ply wool, size 6 mm circular needle.


this is for Karen

I've taken to knitting again this year after a gap of some years. I've done things for the grandchildren and am now into knitting socks which I find has almost a meditative effect. I found a link to this bag, called Sophie, on Karen's blog. She asked me to post a picture of it when finished. Felted now, still damp. Early morning when I took the photo.


a new twist on money laundering
Beavers in Baton Rouge have woven money thrown into a creek from a casino robbery into their dam wall. The money was not damaged and the casino was pleased to have it returned.

(link to the Herald may require a free login.)


Vince Graham, the head of RailCorp, believes that skipping stations is a valid way of getting trains to run on time. I can just see the returning commuter settling down for a return trip from work, happy that just for once his train is running on time. What's this? There goes his stop, flashing by as the train maintains its timetable by skipping stations.


Another sign of the approach of Christmas: the owner of the grocery shop down the street has long retired but every year the shop reopens to sell Christmas trees. It's open now and the footpath past several shops is lined with a double row of potted trees of various types. As Christmas approaches, these will be joined by trees cut from Christmas tree farms. They must sell thousands every year.



Rabbi Rudy Brasch, 1912-2004
Rabbi Brasch, well known in Sydney as the father of modern liberal Judaism in Australia, died a few days ago. He was well known not only to his congregation but to those of many faiths.

He was a prolific author, 37 books in as many years and was often regarded as an authority on the origin of many customs. However, with a Ph.D in both philosophy and divinity, he also wrote works on philosophy, theology and Jewish life and history.

Here's a quote which while he was applying it to Judaism, could well be something to think about for many of us, including myself:
Ritual only has meaning if it enriches, if it is the means to an end. There is a danger that ritual becomes an emd in itself, producing emphasis on the superficial.


Christmas is coming and the geese are getting fat...
I don't think too many geese are eaten for Christmas down here, more like enormous quantities of fresh seafood, but Christmas is certainly coming.

Signs of the times?

Santa Claus is arriving in stores across the city. Christmas decorations have been for sale for weeks. Don't forget the spray packed snow for our hot Christmas Day!

The local primary school children go past my house several times a day on tehir way to a swimming class at the nearby pool. Those are days I recall without any desire to return. Trying to keep teenagers interested in lessons after exams had finished and the beach was calling loudly was a hard job.

We bought our first box of mangos for this season a few days ago. A sure sign of summer.



Two hundred years ago today, Matthew Flinders released a map of Australia, drawn in prison on Mauritius as a result of his circumnavigating Australia.

This map has two distinctives. It shows Bass Strait between Vicotria and Tasmania, ths establishing Tasmania as an island.

While it mentions the words by which the continent was generally known, terra australis, it also uses for the first time the name Australia which became the name of the great south land.