Friday, October 30, 2009

Writers Poets and Intellectuals...we fit right in!

My son found some of his ancestor’s descendents this week. We are so excited and happy to have found them …especially as we are migrants ourselves with very little family here to fall back on. I grew up without grandparents as such…mine were in England and Ireland respectively. Coming out here in the sixties must have been a huge thing for my parents and I know my father is interested now in later life to reconnect with his relatives. My husband has been here since we married in the eighties after meeting while he was here on a Worker’s Visa…he was much travelled and found it hard to settle in one place after we married but eventually after living in both the UK and Australia for some years we came back home.

So my son and I shall be researching the geneology of my side of the family and he is now much more aware of his Russian ancestors and the origin of our name Levinsohn. He is in contact with Leah, a cousin his age, many times removed and Jennifer, who has two daughters a similar age to him. This is especially exciting to him as he has very little contact with any of his first cousins in the UK….I actually friended them myself on Facebook this week and was surprised that neither had been in touch with the other before now on Facebook. Maye it is always that way …the ones who are left behind continue on and live their lives without knowledge of the feelings of isolation that people in the far flung countries often feel. Although one does not have to be thousands of miles away to be ignored…my own brother and sister have had nothing to do with us for many, many years. Why is it that is is harder to accept rejection when it is one’s own child than when one is rejected oneself? Oh well that is enough of that….we are self sufficient and an extremely tight family unit…many would wish for that and it makes Christmas somewhat easier every year!

Okay back to Leah and Jennifer and their families…I heard today that Jennifer’s ancestor …her great grandfather was Joshua, Christopher’s great great grandfather’s brother. Jennifer’s relatives sound so interesting. They were intellectuals, writers and poets….so Chris got it from all sides of the family…..its in the genes!

Isaac Levinsohn, my son’s great great grandfather is a fascinating character, he converted to Christianity, becoming a well respected Baptist preacher working with Charles Spurgeon. His work involved converting the Jewish people, often on their deathbeds, to Christianity….as you can imagine this caused enormous pain for the Levinsohn family in Russia…especially since he converted his brother Joshua! This meant that the Levinsohn name which was passed on by the male family members obviously lived on. Interesting that in Judaism I think I am right in saying that the mother passes the line on? But it would still have been the last of the Jewish Levinsohns. There is a lot of fascinating material to be read through and archived….just my son’s cup of tea! Interestingly I found through my research that Spurgeon’s College is in South London near to where my sister and mother in law now live.

Isaac and his family came from Kovno, Russia….later Lithuania and my son and I were especially concerned about any remaining desendents of Isaac’s extended family as the Kovno Jews were almost wiped off the face of the earth by the Natzis in WW 2. Before the war there were 35,000 to 40,000 Jewish residents of Kovno the capitol city of Lithuania …by the time the Soviet army liberated Kovno on August 1, 1944 only 500 had survived in forests or in bunkers; the Germans evacuated an additional 2,500 to concentration camps in Germany.

Another thing that really inspired us to research was the story of David Suchet’s family on Who Do You Think You Are? David traced some of his Jewish ancestors back to the Pale Of Settlement, which now houses a cemetry filled with the decrepit graves of a long forgotten Jewish community…once a hugely overpopulated area….. courtesy of the anti semitism of the 1800’s and later still the Natzis. When David Suchet visited The Pale of Settlement there was not one Jew remaining amongst the scattered communities there.

As I write this I am reminded of my very close friendship with Bettina and her family…..her children are as my chidren and I feel we are more than friends …we are indeed family. Bettina and her family are Jewish and both her parents and her husband’s family came to Australia as migrants. Indeed almost all of my friends now are fellow migrants and I am drawn to them….it is a peculiar life but it is our life and it is a life that my son and Isaac’s descendent’s now have as it seems that they all got out of Kovno before World War Two…and I so thank God for that.

Monday, October 26, 2009

English Rose

I recently saw a wonderful documentary about the "Roses From The Heart" project by conceptual artist Christina Henri. This project has been ongoing for several years.

Many services of "Blessings of the Bonnets" have been undertaken at churches around Australia. These services have provided a place for the women who were so appallingly treated to be recognised and honoured now...their invaluable contribution to our society and ultimately to our culture ...finally recognised.

13,000 bonnets will be shown in Birmingham, England as part of the Festival of Quilts in 2010.
Meanwhile Norma Bean and her partner will be at a booth at the NEC Show Birmingham in August this year to publicise next years installation of bonnets.

Norma Bean belongs to the Embroiderers Guild and there has been strong interest for Roses from the Heart(tm) from members of this Organisation both locally and Nationally throughout the UK. Christina is very appreciative of this support.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Remembering Bali 12/10/02

Photo from Wikipedia

October 12 (Bali Bombings)
CJ Levinson

I wonder what you saw
When you looked at the world?
Did you see how far we'd come?
I wish I’d known how to open your eyes
So that you could really see

You asked me why I don't believe in God
And I still don't know if I can explain
All I know is the saddest thing I've ever seen
Took all my faith away

On October 12
October 12

I looked for you amongst the ashes
Of that terrible, broken place
But the smoke caught in my eyes and lungs
And pain was all I could see

I stayed up for days, trying to find an answer
But you were gone forever
And the last time I saw you
Is the last thing I'll remember
Lying broken beneath bags of ice
Gone forever

On October 12
October 12

We were so young
Thinking we could live forever
We could never really see

But I’ll wait for you
And I’ll remember you

cjlevinson 2007

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A step in the right direction

A Step In The Right Direction

magikquilter October 11th, 2009

Rainbow SparrowsPurple Stokie SneakersGreen Stokie Sneakers

Australia’s first charity run fashion label Gideon, is now available to buy online and 100% of the profits goes to The Street University which empowers youth in Liverpool in Sydney’s Western suburbs. The Street University was started by Matt Noffs, grandson of the visionary humanitarian Ted Noffs, founder of the Wayside Chapel in Sydney’s Kings Cross.

Rupert Noffs, another grandson of Ted Noffs and his friend Gideon Silverman started the Gideon shoe range some years ago at the markets and now it is a small global business. I can’t commend these young men highly enough on their social consciousness and work ethic.

These sneakers are very reasonably priced and quite cool looking…if I were twenty years younger I would have a range of them in colours to match my outfits!

Now for some other exciting news to do with the Charity Ted Noffs….at last Australia will have an online charity shop…hopefully akin to Oxfam online whom I personally know are hoping to expand into the Australian marketplace. The online shop is coming in 2010! Yeah…can’t wait…will just have to volunteer to help get it going sooner!

Ted Noffs already have a fabulous online bookshop …OneNoffs Books …you can find out all about the philosophy behind them here.

Now possibly the most exciting thing of all for me to share with you is that Ted Noffs is looking for artisans/designers for Australia’s first customised op shop One Noffs. The designers get a cut of the profits, as does the charity as do the donations! I am soo excited as this is dear to my heart…you know I love to save fabric and clothing from the skip at various charity shops!

Remember when I made this quilt…out of fabulous fabric samples a fabric rep who later volunteered at Vinnies, saved from the sixties until 2000, only to have the manager there deem them unfit cause they stank? The whole sorry story is here by the way!

I bought as many as I dared at a dollar a piece before they were thrown out….they washed up perfectly and I dare not think about what happened to the remaining garbage bag full that I just felt too greedy to ask for.

So you can see why I am so excited about this new opportunity for upcycling in this country. If you are a designer here please contact the Ted Noffs Foundation….I know they would love to hear from you….so would I …please let me know too if you are interested.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Mistaken for Magic

Yesterday while the world celebrated forty years since the moon landing many of us over fifty quietly reflected on our memories of the event. I was in high school when it occurred and remember it being the only time when we were called into a room to see anything on television.

I do not remember the logistics of how they managed to get an entire high school of students to view the moon landing simultaneously but I do remember the feeling of being part of something very special and I remember just how excited our teacher was . I can't remember for sure but I think it might have been our history teacher...I do remember him saying you are living history here ...this moment in time...this is happening NOW.

What is that expression, youth is wasted on the young? The same could possibly be said for history...certainly for me anyway these events went largely over my head and I did not really understand the impact until I was much older. How I hope that I was really excited...I think I would have been as I so remember the teacher's excitement...

After all I loved Star Trek and I read all the science fiction books by Isaac Asimov and anyone else that I could get my hands on! I know now how incredibly fortunate we were to experience that but how sad that these things we experienced when we are young are not fully remembered...not in the way they would be today with the technological advances which help us to record events.... often seeing the impact worldwide in seconds. My father phoned me tonight...I should have asked him of his recollections of the day. I will phone him tomorrow to ask him if he was home that evening to see it on the news.

Maybe one of the reasons that I do not remember it well is because so many changes were going on in the sixties, The Vietnam War, The Civil Rights Movement in the US and of course we were teenagers....we took things in our stride. And, maybe it was because we expected more things like that magical event to happen in the future that we are so disappointed now that space exploration as such has stalled. Sure we have the Space Station and great advances in medical science have come about through that but we were so far ahead of ourselves far ahead it seems inconceivable that we did it but we did...we landed on the moon...not once.... but six times.

Remember Aurthur C Clark's third law of prediction?

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Let us not talk about this to our grandchildren as some sort of myth tinged with magic, let us all hope for and encourage and campaign for manned space flights to Mars and Phobos....we need to do this as a species..exploration and challenge and discovery....these are vital to us as a race.

Oh by the way one very interesting and well researched movie which shows the vital role that
Parkes in Central NSW played in the Mooon landing is The Dish, which stars Sam Neil and many fine Australian actors.

What are your memories or thoughts of this event? My dear friends who read my blog Linda ad Ann, do you remember who the teacher was and just how many televisions they brought into Wyong High School forty years ago? Better yet any teachers from Wyong High School forty years ago out there who could help jog my memory? You never know Linda and I found each other again through my blog magikquilter after almost thirty years!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult

Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult

This book by well known author Jodi Picoult was a slightly different take on her usual formulaic novels, although there were some similarities with The Green Mile by Stephen King which distracted me at times. The novel is ultimately about vengeance and redemption and coming after finishing Cage of Stars by Jacqueline Mitchard it was interesting reading, although not interesting enough for me to pull an all nighter.

Her research is impeccable for her novels and I have noticed she usually tries to draw attention to various topical issues, often more than one in the same book. This book dealt with not only the ethics surrounding the death penalty but associated things like restorative justice. Also the foster care system and the associated problems faced by people with learning and speech difficulties. She also covered Judaism and Catholicism and Agnosticism, Gnostic Gospels, faith and healing and miracles and the question of would we recognise the Messiah if He came to Earth now. Although it was never really explained how we would come to accept a Jewish or Christian Messiah who is a murderer.Then we have the heart transplant and the repercussions of living with an organ inside you that came from a you think evil thoughts and can we live with such a person's organ inside us? We even have a female Jewish ACLU lawyer with self esteem issues.

So this is clearly my problem with her books .... I am so distracted when I read her novels because she puts so much into them that I find my mind going off on tangents, and this is not helped by the constant platitudes and predictability of her novels. I did not buy this novel new and that is probably the best way I can describe her work for me. I would not pay full price or even half price for her books but I would get them out of the library as I do like to see what the current topical issue is for her. In fact these books may be in effect a sort of time capsule, we may look to these in twenty years and be amazed at how society has changed, so she may be some kind of genius after all.

I rate it 3/5

Monday, June 29, 2009

Thoughts on Iran

Today bloggers the world over are joining together to show solidarity with the Iranian people, the Iranian people who wanted change to come through the election and who were brave enough to stand up and declare their disgust when their voices were not heard.

I am not one for violence but I am definitely one who is very fond of the spoken and written word and for freedom of ideas and I am very alarmed when a people are silenced. I think though in this case the people are silencing themselves, they have to consider how far they are willing to go to get the freedom they want and the direction in which that freedom will take them.

I think that now they are consolidating and biding their time. I do not feel that this is at all like China where the young often seem to be quite okay with their lot on life ...or so it appears to me anyway. Modern China [not rural] China is mostly prosperous and there is great pride in the history and culture. Iran on the other hand has big problems...the revolution and previous tyranny under the Shah was not so very long ago and the intellectuals and the women especially seem to me to have more at stake than their more modern Chinese counterparts.

What occurred to me the most about this whole business is that with the new wave of communication technology I do not know if any cultures which allow....for want of a better word....their people to have free access to mobile phones etc....I do not see how they will be able to get away with this kind of thing in future. The crackdowns and violence I mean.

If the tyrannical acts can be tweeted out to the rest of the world as they happen so that the world can see these atrocities, what will these governments do? Will they ban mobile phones on the street and can they do that? Or in demonstrations? It is something to think about. Can a culture that is so modern in technology allow itself to go backward? Would the people allow that?

These are just some of my thoughts on this blogging action day and I am so pleased to have the freedom to be able to do this. My thoughts and prayers are with the opressed people of the world who are not so free to do so, especially our Iranian brothers and sisters who had a taste of what it meant to have a voice, or the possibility of a voice, and had that taken away from them.

Thanks to my son cjwriter for the above badge, it is available on flickr for anyone who would like to use it, he has also written a post for Bloggers Unite For a Free Iran.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Day For RIPs

Today we heard the news first that Farrah Fawcett had died and then later on Michael Jackson. The 2pm Sky News Australia had fifteen minutes of the thirty minute bulletin dedicated to their lives and ultimately their deaths.

What can anyone say about the deaths of two of the most iconic people of the latter part of the twentieth century? They both were a huge part of many people's lives. I was not a huge Michael Jackson fan, growing up in Australia we saw more of the Osmond family but I am well aware of the contribution to the music industry that Michael made.

I also saw his bizarre behaviour coming as a direct result of his unusual childhood. He said in an interview with Oprah that he never had birthdays as a child or friends. He was the brightest star of the young Jackson Five but at what cost to his psyche? His perfectly choreographed dance steps and songs must have taken hours of rehearsal each day...days that could have been spent being a little boy. What price fame talent and satisfaction in a perfect performance its own reward? Anyway, he is gone now leaving behind his children and his extended family and fans who thought of him as part of theirs.

Rest in peace Michael.

Farrah was a huge part of my twenties. I followed the fashion of the show Charlies Angels as did women the world over. Like Farrah and many other women of the seventies I went braless and proud of it! Not for us the constraints of our mothers and yes we were proud of the jiggle! The nipples bit was a bit pun intended but there were ways around that...avoiding tshirts in cold weather and Sophia Loren's nipple tape worked for some.

The way Farrah gave up her role on Charlies Angels showed her strength of character and her dedication to her craft. When I was an air hostess in the mid seventies one of my friends came into the transit lounge where I was on call for eight hours and said that she had Lee Majors on her flight. She went on to say that nobody noticed him because his wife was so incredible looking and so sweet. This was just before Charlies Angels started.

Farrah had a rare cancer, such an undignified cancer for such a private person. The investigations and treatments must have been humiliating although not as humiliating as when her medical records were stolen and sold to the press.... for the sum of $4,600. After that
in part as a result of Fawcett's experience, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law tougher penalties for institutions and individuals that violate patients' privacy. Farrah will have that as her legacy too.

Farrah I wonder if we will ever forget that smile? I know I won't and my heart goes out to your family and loved ones.

May you rest in peace.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Shame, Shame, Shame

On June 29th bloggers around the world will be joining together to speak out for Human Rights in Iran. Bloggers Unite for a free Iran has all the information you need. As the word gets harder to get out and speaking and meeting publicly becomes too expensive a commodity for the everyday Iranian, show them that we the citizens of the world care about more than the world's economic situation, or indeed about more than our own families. We are all part of the family of man and freedom of expression is not something that we can allow to be silenced. Speak out for those who can't, let the Iranian people know the rest of the world is not going to sit by and let this happen. We will not be silent.

Shame on them for what they did to the footballers who wore green arm bands of solidarity in the Seoul pre qualifier game recently

Shame on Iran for the death of Neda Agha Soltan by all accounts an innocent victim

Shame shame shame .... so many outrages there are too many to list

Remember the power of the people Ayatolla Khamenei, remember and beware.

My son who is a writer has written a great post about this.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Private Patient by PD James

Book review imported from

Originally published 26/12/08

This novel was read in my usual method of Boxing Day several chapters...snooze more..... eat .....snooze.....wake and check that the infernal cricket is still on everywhere in the house but our bedroom.......retreat to bedroom to read more.....snooze more ......surface for fruit and water more...and so it goes. Probably not the best way to read a book this brilliant but what can I say ...when I get one of her books for Christmas, or Ruth Rendell's, this is just part of my Christmas tradition.

Book review PDJames

This book seems to be leading us to assume that an end is in sight for fact how he can maintain a relationship with Emma when they rigidly keep his policework separate from their relationship is interesting and indeed possibly ultimately problematic. This novel was a masterpiece and although at first I thought the prose was a little dated or flowery at times I soon realised that was again part of the delicately plotted structure of the book. The beauty of her work is that right up to the end she keeps both reader and detectives in the dark about a lot of the motives and actions of the people involved. I also love the way she never judges anybody...she just tells it as it is in light of what is going on in Britain at the time socially along with all the changes in the Public Service.

This again is a five star book...long may she live if this is what she is writing at this great age.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Leave Kora Alone

Australian opinion has been divided for days now over the Sarah Hansen Young incident in Canberra on Thursday in which her daughter Kora age two was taken from her out of the Senate Chamber. Hansen Young made history as the youngest person ever elected to the senate and the youngest female member of parliament. Hansen Young was caught short while she was saying goodbye to her daughter before she flew back to Adelaide when the bells calling Senators to vote rang...she had four minutes to get to the Chamber.

Kora could be heard to scream through the solid doors of the Chamber although before the incident she had been fine. Governor General Quentin Bryce, who was at one time the Sex Discrimination Commissioner, found herself in a situation recently when a baby cried during a recent swearing in ceremony for new Ministers. She handled it much differently.

Channel Nine News presented the most incredibly biased report on Friday evening, including an interview with ex Sex Discrimination Commissioner who also ran the Federal Office for the Status of Women under John Howard Pru Goward, which was extraordinary in its viewpoint coming from someone who used to be a foremost fighter for women's rights in this country. She even went as far as to say on Channel Nine that Kora was the victim in all this, was traumatised by her mother's actions.

I wondered at Pru's words until I read the Age just now...I was not aware that Pru is now a Liberal Minister and even more bafflingly considering her comments the Shadow Minister for Women. I wonder if she will be another Peter Garrett and William Hayden....doing a back flip to suit the new situation they find themselves in. I do not know who I was more disgusted with Channel Nine for their biased reporting or Pru for her extraordinary viewpoint.

What do you think?

Friday, June 5, 2009

RIP Chris and Philip

Today’s passing of Dr Chris O’Brien aged 57 to cancer and also my own bowel surgeon Dr Philip Douglas whom I found out recently had passed away from cancer earlier this year, were both cases of good men who died too soon. Philip was only 53 and one of the most gentle, kind doctors I have ever met. By the time I met Philip Douglas I had experienced many painful operations and was impressed by his unwillingness to subject me to any more, rare in a surgeon. But he knew I had been brutalised by all the surgeries and he knew it would take many years to recover from them.

Both were champions for cancer care in Australia and indeed the world and both died well before their time. It is particularly hard when people with cancer lose their doctor to that disease, they must feel so disheartened. They will both leave a vast gulf in the lives of people who knew them. May they rest in peace and may their families draw comfort from all the suffering they helped assuage in their all too short lifetimes.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Conversation With A Priest

Had a great conversation online today with an Anglican priest about the murder of Dr George Tiller. He had presented Biblical arguments for and against, very intelligent reading and discussion.

Even though I made the point that I do not believe that abortion is the ultimate sin, my thoughts were welcomed. What a change from the comments I made recently where I was savaged for trying to express myself on a blog recently.

Thanks David, your parishioners are very blessed to have you. Check him out, believers and non believers, for really intelligent conversation. He also contributes to Stand Firm which supports traditional Anglicanism in America.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Apathy Free Blog!

As I am approaching 200 posts on my quilting blog I have decided to go forward with a personal blog here which will contain all posts which are unrelated to my craft work. I have over time amassed quite a few posts on various topics which have touched me, about many different issues and look forward to continuing the connversation here.

I have been dissatisfied with the cliches on Wordpress and the apathy and viciousness of some of the bloggers there so am looking forward to interesting discussions here where people can feel free to speak from the heart and not be savaged for so doing.