Saturday, October 29, 2011

Husband’s Lament from the Bendigo Retreat



Let me say at the outset that this is all my fault, and I take full blame! Well, not for the Quilting, but the Scquilting! To explain I have to go back in time. Back to a more simple time, when life was so much less complicated. Back to when my trusty book-keeper (and partner in life) kept the business accounts up to date. Invoices were issued (more or less) on time, and the baby (sorry, Princess) was fed and watered. Even the grass was mown!

I decided it was time (1995) to upgrade the old TRS80 3P (please, no jokes about 5 ½ inch floppy disks) for a more modern computer. Herself was thrilled with the mouse and colour screen – “What will they think of next!” Luckily at that stage, she didn’t know what the internet was!

Once the internet was set up, I (foolishly) thought, that the best way for her to learn how to use the computer was to get herself used to the internet, and what better way to do that than by joining a special interest group. Special interests….. I thought. I know! Quilting – a hobby she had taken up in recent years to counter the effects of a baby (sorry, Princess) who didn’t sleep and who could vomit rather spectacularly, on demand.

I did a search and found an American quilting group. That will be good for a start I figured. With this incentive, it took no time at all for herself to learn the internet basics, and soon she was posting to this group. A couple of Southern Cross Quilters contacted her and suggested she join their local group and a new Scquilter was born! (She proudly tells me that she was Scquilter number thirty or forty something!).

Little did I know how this would affect my life as I knew it! From that first meeting with an “axe murderer” it was on for one and all. Next she was telling me we MUST go to Sydney. Usually a visit to the rellies is that last thing she wants to do, but now she is begging to go. As I pushed Elizabeth’s stroller up all the rows of stairs to get to the Sydney Quilt Show (remember the overseas passenger terminal at Circular Quay?), I realised why!! A few months later and another visit to Sydney. This time she was picked up by fellow axe murderer Jan Powell & taken to a Scquilty get-together - (how was I to know that this would be the first of many thousand?). On her return, plied with champagne, herself announced that one of the fellow axe murderers had suggested that we build a shed/studio in the back yard for her and she was in full agreement. Plans were soon drawn up!

Her next idea was the most audacious. Why don’t we go overseas? We could go to the UK so that I could see Wales for the first time in over 30 years. It would be lovely for the Princess to see where I grew up, went to school etc. Not a bad idea, I thought. My BIG mistake was putting herself in charge of the itinerary and all bookings. Before I knew it we had our “Round the world” tickets – what happened to just the U.K.???? Our itinerary consisted of quilt shops, the odd cathedral and castle and more quilt shops. On our second day in London, she announced that we were meeting a fellow axe murderer (Lorraine Bradley) and her family for dinner. That was pretty much how the trip went from then onwards.

Most people travel the United States from coast to coast. We travelled from quilt shop to quilt shop! Included in the visit were trips to see a large number of axe murderers, both Oz & local. (Hello Sharron in Denver!).

On our arrival home, I found that a huge shed had gone up in our absence!! Well, a garage, with a little room for me & a huge room for her! You don’t really want to know what happened next, but I will tell you anyway. After the shed was plastered, painted and linoed, I arrived home to find that my office had been emptied of all book shelves. The books were still there – stacked on the floor, but the shelves had been moved (not an easy task – there are two of them – 7ft x 6ft ea) to “The Shed” and filled with fabric. I was told that the shelves were the exact size to fit FQs in, and here was I thinking they were the exact size to hold a novel (or 3000)! Silly me! Thus “The Great Wall of Fabric” was begun.

That was nine years ago. Since then things have only got worse! There was the time I had to pick up a fellow axe murderer from the local station. Herself did not have a photo of Faye, but she gave me a photo of one of her quilts & said to “Just ask anyone who looks like she made this quilt if she is Faye Cunningham”! The time I had to pick up two Dutch quilters from the Airport bus depot, I was told to look out for two tall women! Elizabeth & I have been to retreats, wandered around the Canberra/Sydney /Melbourne/Loch/Berwick quilt shows. And that is only the ones we remember!

There is the once a month Squilter activity at Carrum Downs. I am not sure exactly what goes on there, and I don’t really want to know. I can only imagine that some satanic rituals are involved. At the last meeting I saw Hermione dressed up as a Christmas tree, complete with flashing lights! Enough said.

As a gentleman of fixed habits, with a rather methodical (that’s methodical NOT anal!) approach to life, it has been rather a trial to adjust to the way of life of a SCQuilter’s DH. I have just about managed and having spoken to DHs in similar positions I know I am far from alone. So, I have resigned myself to a life of Scquilter servitude. Please think of me fondly. Elizabeth, our daughter (now 15) is however, scarred for life!

When you see me at Bendigo give me a fond wave – I will be the one carrying the show and tell!!

Big Bad Merv (Saint in waiting)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Ian’s 50th Birthday


Ian’s birthday poem

On the 7th of October way back in ‘61

The Riordan’s were delivered - a much wanted son.

He was a good baby – just slept and fed

But there was a slight problem,

His hair was bright red.

As fourth in the family of Les and Dot,

They were used to red heads being part of their lot.

But three in a row did seem too many

Still he was a good kid – as bright as any.

He soon started to talk – that boy would go far

Is anyone shocked that his first word was “Car”?

On our dairy farm, he had an idyllic life,

a real country kid - much trouble and strife.

He sank in manure – played outside all day.

Lost many a gumboot and played with the hay.

He was joined by another – a brother no less.

This happy young boy had a mate with no dress!

“Robert the Rose Horse” was his favourite book,

But cars were the best thing – knew them all with a look.

When Brother Neil became terminally ill,

Mum and Dad were so dignified with strength and good will.

The death of a young child – well what can I say?

With Mum and Dad’s love, we coped day by day.

Then it was time for Ian and school

Big sis Sandra took charge – and she was no fool.

Over protective – she was very strong

The game British Bulldog righted many a wrong.

A solid elbow and a well-placed right hook

Silenced anyone who gave Ian so much as a LOOK!

His stage debut also showed he’d go far

With a cheap Beatles wig and a wooden guitar.

Living next door to the Wells’ - such a treat

We got even more love and lots to eat.

The trek through their fence was a well-worn path

Travelled daily - sometimes hourly, and always a laugh.

When our grandparents moved to the Ovens Highway,

Ian found where he wanted to settle one day.

He loved the north east – around Beechworth and Yack

And always knew one day he’d be back.

Time passed – the farm sold and we moved to the beach.

High school was approaching – a new life within reach.

Dad ordered a statesman – his favourite car

You sat proudly beside him on travels afar.

But our Dad wasn’t well and he died Christmas Day

Far too young, far too soon – his life slipped away.

Mum took up the challenge – she looked after us well

But for a lone boy, it must have been hell.

Bonbeach High did not “get” a young boy like you,

In your essays your world famous humour shone through.

In maths you excelled and all things scientific

Your afterschool job showed your solid work ethic.

You and Sandra – my god! With your local swamp stencil

And Baby Scott left on doorsteps with a note writ in pencil.

When a friend got the first pool in our beach neighbourhood

He wouldn’t let anyone swim in it – but you got him good!

You picked up a dead sheep – off Edithvale Road

And guess where you delivered your load?

Through all of this Mum remained by your side

Taking you camping – or just for a ride.

You blitzed your exam for the VACC

And offers came in from the motor industry.

You worked well in your trade – made friends you have kept

And your family was there – when you smiled or you wept

Your special love was your old HQ ute –

You made it from scratch – god it was beaut!

The years went by, Mum needed care - quite a lot

She had cared for us so much – how could we not?

Then at last it was time to realise your dream

In this beautiful spot - just by the Yack stream.

You took your turn in our roster for Mum,

She loved visiting us all, spending time, having fun.

There was no-one quite like her – with her humour and pride.

So proud of her family, accepting help in her stride.

We realise we chose our parents so well.

They were two in a million – anyone could tell.

So strong and brave, but we lost Mum last year

Something we’ll never get over, I fear.

But 15 months on and we still have each other

And we girls could not have a better brother*.

Mum and Dad would be proud – they knew you’d go far

And your family – we love you – just as you are.

Happy 50th birthday Ian.

Written by your sister Helen - endorsed by Jeannie, Alec, Scott, Jose, Evie,?, Joanne, Max, Merv, Elizabeth, Sandra and Wolfgang

*well we could, but this rhymed better!