Archive | January, 2011

The Greatest Quilt Ever Made

31 Jan

For one reason and another we’ve had a bad start to the year (no change there then), but one lovely thing did happen: I got a quilt. 

This is no ordinary quilt, however: every inch of it has been handmade by my dear friend Viv of vivinfrance fame. 

In December I received the following email from her:

I’d like to make you a lap quilt or cuddly as we in the trade call it.  They’re usually about 1.50 metres square, but I’ll make it any size or shape you like (within reason!) It will be a multicoloured scrap top, backed with fleece, and you can have the backing in your choice of these colours:  sky blue, apricot,brick, camel or dark blue.

Who could refuse an offer like that?  Certainly not me, the coldest woman west of the east. 

Viv’s first update:

First two blocks made in an experiment in randomness.  I hope it works!  My sewing machine is misbehaving, though – the twiddly-bit underneath that holds the bobbin keeps falling out.  Air is blue here.

I think that last bit was talking about how cold it was in France just then, because she’s too much of a lady for it to be anything else.

On 23 December, when sensible people were running around centrally heated shops, below-zero streets and sitting in car parks for an hour-and-a-half, awaiting a space and fighting strangers to the death for it, I received this:

Four blocks made, 11 to go!  It’s looking quite exciting.

In early January there was a complaint about the number of email addresses I have, so I think Viv was tired from the Nike-factory-worker-impersonation making my quilt had become; but she did say this:

Progress report:  12 blocks done, 3 or 4 left to do, depending on whether I make it 4 x 4 or 3 x 5.  It’s turning into a trip down memory lane for me – leftovers from favourite dresses I made entirely by hand in Seychelles, fabrics from my very early days as a quilter, one or two snippets from some cottons that my daughter brought back for me from the Hindu Kush in 1994, from which I made her a kimono – the first of many.  There are also pieces from two huge bags of samples given to me by my friend who’s gone back to UK to live, and another friend who used to be a textile and dress designer.
I also have the backing, which is bright red fleece, unless you have a rooted objection, in which case I need to think fast.

[small edits for privacy]

I had no objections, not being one to complain at cheerful colours.  I was chuffed at the knowledge that Viv’s gift to me was not only all her own work, but made of her happy memories.  How wonderful to own something made in and from happiness.  And from such a wonderful phrase, too: Hindu Kush – I have always loved saying it.

This was an exciting one because it had a photo as well:

I thought you might enjoy the state of my work-table in the last stages of making the blocks.  The machine’s playing silly buggers and I’m tearing my hair out in handfuls, but am I having fun?  I am?  Who’da thought it!


Viv made that gorgeous pincushion, you might like to know.

Then I discovered Miss Vivienne is not quite the lady I first thought her:

Well then, it’s all gone together – not without a great deal of swearing – and the red fleece backing is now being quilted with the top.  I must warn you that I’m not the world’s greatest machine quilter, but if I’d waited to hand quilt it you wouldn’t get it until April!  I think another week to finish it.  It is anything but an heirloom quilt – more a rough and tumble everyday job.

Viv got something wrong here: it is an heirloom quilt.  I shall give it to whichever of my eventual grandchildren visits me most and brings the best presents.

She included a photo:


On January 18th I got a message to say it was on its way, ‘fast post’:

Tis anything but a masterpiece, but I can vouch for it being nice and warm – it was covering me knees all the time I was hemstitching down the binding and the label, and I was jolly hot!

And on the twentieth Viv emailed the tracking details in case there was a problem; to which I was able to reply:

I’m sitting snug under it even as I type!  It has just arrived and I put the computer on to thank you and there was your email.

Not me at my most eloquent but I was too thrilled for niceties.  Viv also sent me her process notes, as I requested.  So kind of her to keep a record of her gift so that I can keep a record of her gift.

I have used the quilt every day since it arrived and I LOVE it.  It is the greatest quilt ever made because it is made of and with good feelings; given with good feelings; and received with good feelings. 

And you know what the best part is?  As good friends as we are, we have never met.

Thank you, dearest Viv.





If I Had My Own Reality TV Show…

30 Jan
How Clean Is Your House?

Image via Wikipedia

…as suggested by today’s WordPress prompt, I suspect it would be called The Loudest Family in Britain.   Or maybe Living With The Loudies.    Family Cries.  Loud And Loving It.  Threes Are Loud. 

The Tilly Bud family don’t talk; we yell.  How else can we force our opinions on each other?

Other options:

  • Maltesers & Mayhem
  • The Bachelor (when the Hub throws me out)
  • How Clean Is Your House?  Who Cares?
  • Trading Insults
  • Argumentation Argumentation
  • Stroppy And Loving It
  • Wife Swap (No!  Take Her For Free)
  • So You Think You Can Cook.  Hahahahahahaha!
  • Grumpy And The Big Tut
  • Meal Or No Meal
  • Who Wants To Marry My Dad (Now My Mum’s Thrown Him Out)? 
  • If No One’s Arguing, Everyone’s Dead

Knowing me as you now do, dear readers, I wonder if you can think of some more?

The Hub Is My Indispensable Technology

30 Jan

My first reaction to the latest WordPress prompt –What’s one piece of technology you can’t live without? – was, of course, The Internet; but then I thought about it.  Not deep thought, like, Where does it come from?  Why is it here?  Does it prove Intelligent Design?, but thought along the lines of, I can’t live without it; please don’t die on me again, Mr Internet (at the risk of sounding sexist, of course it’s male: hangs around the house annoying me and proving it knows everything – it’s the Hub in technological form).

My thought of the day led me to conclude that, actually, it’s the computer I can’t live without.  A world wide web isn’t much use if it doesn’t have a computer to be world wide on; and I need somewhere to store my Christmas shopping list.

But a computer is only as good as the moron who uses it, and I’m the moron for the job.  Remember the other day when I had a computer crisis and couldn’t do the thing?  You all sent me helpful tips that might as well have been in DOS for the trouble I had trying to follow your basic instructions.  Believe me when I say that I very much appreciated the proffered help, and to thank you I ate a box of Maltesers in the name of each of you; but I couldn’t fix the problem.  I knew I was going to have to ask the Hub for help, because that’s why I hang on to him; someone has to fix the computer. 

My need for it is such that I was prepared to brave his wrath the minute he got up (no point mentioning it before I had to and letting him have time to fester and think of good reasons why I shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near anything more technologically advanced than a pencil). 

And guess what?  That whole turn-it-off-and-turn-it-on-again joke isn’t a joke at all; it’s sound technological advice: I turned the pc on just before he came into the room in order to have the evidence to prove my sin, and it had fixed itself.  I wouldn’t have known this if I hadn’t had the Hub on hand to fix it because I would have left it switched off forever, so, technically, just by being there, the Hub fixed it for me.

Then there’s my backache.  It’s caused by the computer chair, which is really a post-modernist – i.e. streamlined i.e. works without electricity and therefore has no wires – recliner.  The Hub bought it off eBay, thinking it was a luxury computer chair.  When he got it home and realised his mistake, he added castors.  It has done us for ages but it is too low and I am short (though not as short as I ought to be, you may remember) and I have to sit on the edge and strain to reach the keyboard and I have dreadful posture so I’m a sort of Hunchback of Notre Stockport with an aching waist and a permanent bad mood (not the fault of the chair or even the Hub; just my default setting).

As soon as I make the Hub aware of my problem he will fix it: he will source a real computer chair; or requisition Spud’s which is our old one; or add blocks to the top of the castors to raise the chair; or do something ingenious and – more importantly – inexpensive to save my back and keep me blogging and thus accessing the internet.

You see: all technological roads lead to home.  I can’t do without the Hub if I want to use the internet.  He is my technological necessity.  Ouch.  That hurts.  The biter bit.  He is my date; oh, base.  I’d like to keep him peripheral but it’s a hard drive.  It bugs me so much I’ve become a cursor.  I need to access my memory and find a ram.  Marriage – what a gig.

Did You Hear About This?

29 Jan

A piano is shown sitting on a sandbar in Miami's Biscayne Bay. It was supposedly placed their by Nicholas Harrington.  A grand piano appeared on a sandbank in Biscayne Bay, Miami (go here for a better picture).  It was believed to have washed up until a student confessed that he and his father had placed it there in a bid to help his application to art school.

I admire his lateral thinking but what really tickled me was the official response:

Officials said they acknowledged the teen was trying to express his artistic side, but that he should have obtained the correct permits to do it.

                                                                                                                    Sky News

I think they’re kind of missing the point, don’t you?

Help! My Computer Hates Me And I Really Don’t Want To Have To Kill My Husband In His Sleep

28 Jan
bobby toilet paper demon cat

Image by jacob earl via Flickr

Here we go again.  WordPress or somebody asked how I’d like to be remembered.  As a computer genius; but it’s never gonna happen, is it?

My techneptitude has flared up again.  Do you any of you real computer genii know how to fix my problem?  Preferably before the Hub gets up and has a little whinge about it.  You remember that post the other day where you all urged me to hang onto him because of his un-man-like ability to change a toilet roll?  Here’s why I might not: think of the loudest noise you know.  Double it.  Multiply by every prime number.  Take away the will to live.  And only then will you just begin to comprehend the Hub’s ability to sap the life out of a person who accidentally messed with his computer settings.

Here’s the problem: I was writing today’s sapoems post and I accidentally hit some or other buttons on the keyboard (I blame the Germans) and the bit at the top and bottom disappeared – the ribbon/banner thingy that says what’s up on your desktop.  I can get it back if I click on the top or bottom of the screen but it refuses to stay in place.  How do I fix it?  I tried going to some fixing website, thinking it was probably a common problem; but there’s no FAQ for ‘my ribbon/banner thingy won’t stay put.’ 

Please, people: if you don’t want me to have to murder the Hub in his bed rather than face a rollicking, take pity on me.

WordPress Prompts – The Blogging Equivalent Of Catholic Guilt

28 Jan

The WordPress prompt about things happening for a reason so enraged me that I haven’t responded to any prompts since. 

I think I’d better answer a few before I’m excommunicated from the postaday2011 family:

Do you want to live forever?

Don’t be ridiculous!  What would I do once the Maltesers ran out?

If stranded on a desert island, and could only bring one music album with you, which would it be? What is it about this music that never gets old for you?*

Meat Loaf’s Bat Out Of Hell.  I’m always fourteen when I listen to it.  Fourteen year olds don’t care where they are so long as they can play their music at full blast, all day long.

What is your favourite sound?

Someone else saying, Dinner is served.

How do you define the word friend?

Someone who, when you ask her to pick up the Maltesers, refuses to take payment for them when she arrives.


*All grammatical errors WordPress’s own.


27 Jan

A Freegler offered a rule plaque for a teenager’s bedroom door; it was the usual stuff but these caught my eye:



The best excuse EVER for not vacuuming the house comes courtesy of my cousin’s wife’s Facebook Status; the lovely Sandrine, who is now my idol:

I really should be hoovering, but I wouldn’t want to increase my carbon footprint, now would I ?

She swears she’s not lazy, but a closet environmentalist.  I believe her.

A man and a woman who have never met before find themselves in the same sleeping carriage of a train. After the initial embarrassment, they both manage to get to sleep; the woman on the top bunk, the man on the lower. 
In the middle of the night the woman leans over and says, “I’m sorry to bother you, but I’m awfully cold and I was wondering if you could possibly pass me another blanket.” 
The man leans out and with a glint in his eye said “I’ve got a better idea … let’s pretend we’re married.” 
“Why not,” giggles the woman. 
“Good,” he replies. “Get your own blanket.” 

Read more:


If you want to read an almost true story about a mixed marriage, go to my other blog, South Africa – A Love/Hate Story

Never Forget

27 Jan
Holocaust Memorial Day

Image via Wikipedia

Today is Holocaust Memorial Day.  I have always wanted to write a Holocaust poem; this isn’t it.  I don’t think I will ever manage it.  It was too terrible a time to comprehend.

It’s important to remember that it wasn’t just Jews who were butchered, but gypsies, homosexuals, the old, sick, disabled, Jehovah’s Witnesses: anyone considered a deviant or a burden. 

Whenever I feel sorry for myself – I’m too cold, too hungry, have too little money – I think of the victims of the concentration camps, all they lost; how they suffered; the unbelievable cruelty; and I feel grateful for all I have.

Anyway, I wanted to mark the day; it’s too easy to forget.  Look at what happened in Bosnia, Rwanda, Cambodia, Darfur; and tell me it won’t happen again.


HMD” _mce_href=”″>HMD”>″>HMD 2011 Untold Stories from Holocaust”>″>Holocaust Memorial Day Trust on Vimeo.

How it Happens

I spent the day with Mrs B, 90. 
Her husband liked to get about. 
America, you know; for the Big Fight.  With friends. 

She does not care for curry, 
Americans, foreign travel. 
Oh, but rather likes The Jews

She’s glad that German business never happened here. 
He was fond of the ladies, you know.
Almost: Mosley.  Brown Shirts.  Oxford Street. 
Dreadful.  I stayed home.

The Hub Is Sooooo Annoying

26 Jan

Reading another blog, Ribshack Red, I was directed to this Daily Mail article ; it discusses a report which claims couples argue 312 times a year, on average.  I would say that is definitely not the case with the Hub and I: we argue maybe two or three times a year at most.  We squabble all day long, so we don’t often have the stomach for a real barney.

Look at the list of things that irritate most wives:

  1.  Stubble in the sink
  2. Dirty marks in the toilet
  3. Flicking TV channels
  4. Not replacing the toilet roll
  5. Leaving the seat up
  6. Leaving lights on
  7. Leaving dirty cups around the house
  8. Leaving wet towels on the floor/bed
  9. Hoarding stuff
  10. Not flushing the toilet

The only thing I can get him on is Number 9.  This may come as a shock to regular readers but he’s a dreadful hoarder, you know.  Here’s my own list in response:

  1. He washes the sink after shaving
  2. He knows how to use a toilet brush
  3. He flicks only at night when I am in bed
  4. He always replaces the toilet roll
  5. He has never left the seat up since that terrible November night of 2003 when I went to the loo in the dark and fell in
  6. He almost always turns off the lights: enough to get a pass if he forgets
  7. He hates to see dirty dishes left lying around and has us all quaking if we forget to take them out when we leave the room.  That’s his mother’s fault: the only advice she gave me on marrying her son was to ‘always clear away dirty dishes at night; you’ll feel better for it’
  8. Wet towels left lying around?  Perish the thought!  Think of the mould
  9. People who don’t flush unless they do a clear wee and/or need to save water are the scourge of the earth, is the gist of his thoughts on this last one

So I have no excuse to moan at him or reason to complain: does that not make him the most irritating husband in the world?

A Pet’s Tale

26 Jan
Bloody Bat

A bit of fun for you, courtesy of a rather good writing prompt from last Sunday’s Stockport Art Gallery Writing Group‘s meeting.





A Pet’s Tale

Once there was a spoiled young girl
Her eyes were brown, her hair was curled
She loved to use the telephone
To call her Gran and have a moan
About her little night-time pet
An over-friendly vampire bat

She fed him peach and apple pie
And wondered why he did not fly
She could not see that he was fat
So large, he squashed the family cat
Who died and went off to pet heaven
(That’s what we say to girls of seven)

The bat was called Subversive Jim
By the people close to him
He liked to bury his soft face in
The young girl’s neck and and ear and chin
Sneaking blood when she wasn’t looking
For vampire bats most love sucking

We’re almost done with our sad tale
The child, alas, became quite pale
Her blood supply at last ran out
Leaving old Jim rather stout
But he got his just desserts
He died when his appendix burst

The dead cat’s kin (remember him?)
Gobbled up the greedy Jim
Of Jim was left just one blind eye
Now the end is really nigh
Hear the moral of this story:
Owning pets is sometimes gory




My Fascist Goldfish

25 Jan

Here’s the thing: the Hub loves animals.  I think you know that.  He’s always mooning over the geese in the park; yesterday he trained three scared mothers and their even more scared offspring to not only feed the geese but to let them take the bread from their hands.  A good day’s work.

That would be fine if his love of animals stayed in the park, but it spills over into our home and makes the thing I hate most in the world: clutter.  We don’t have one gerbilarium, we have three, all different sizes.  We have seven bags of food that our dead gerbil will never eat.  We have three leads per dog and one spare in case we lose five; the dogs have two and five coats (Molly is nesh); boxes of dog treats; boxes of gerbil treats; and – and I really wish I was exaggerating here but I’m not – four huge binbags full of gerbil toys, courtesy of Freegle and car boot sales.  How sad that you can’t take it with you, or Callie would be the happiest gerbil in heaven and I would be the happiest housewife on earth. 

A cage the Hub built for the gerbils to exercise in. It's stuffed behind the couch now.

As well as all that, we have the fish.  You may remember I rescued Bill last year from his little plastic tank and his lonely existence.  The Hub approved so much that he immediately bought a proper tank and five other fish for company.  Bill is thriving, as are the other four (one was a weakling who couldn’t cut it in the big world, sadly).  So much so, they outgrew their tank and the Hub insisted we get them a bigger one.  To be fair, the small big tank was horribly dark and dank compared to the big big tank. 

The Hub replaced the stones with sand, bought more fresh plants, rocks and wood.  And four shrimp; ostensibly because ‘they’ll clean the tank’ but really because ‘they’re sooooo cute.’

The tank is lovely. 

But there was one horrible, unforeseen and appalling side-effect: if the fish can see us, we can see the fish.  Here’s Jock:

Or Adolf, as he’s now known.

Fair’s Fair

24 Jan
You blokes have been so good-natured about yesterday’s joke that it seems fair to have one about women:
A woman in Atlantic City was losing at the roulette wheel. When she was down to her last 10 dollars, she asked the fellow next to her for a good number. “Why don’t you play your age?” he suggested. The woman agreed, and then put her money on the table.
The next thing the guy with the advice knew, the woman had fainted and fallen to the floor. He rushed right over. “Did she win?” he asked. “No” replied the attendant. “She put 10 dollars on 33 and 46 came in.”

Read more:

I know this is a blogging cheat; I promise normal service will be resumed shortly.

Auntie Freda’s Funny

23 Jan
Cuban Parrot (Amazona leucocephala) in Cuba (2...
Image via Wikipedia

Wanda’s dishwasher quit working so she called in a repairman. Since she had to go to work the next day, she told the repairman, “I’ll leave the key under the mat. Fix the dishwasher, leave the bill on the counter, and I’ll mail you a check. Oh, by the way don’t worry about my dog Spike. He won’t bother you.”

“But, whatever you do, do NOT, under ANY circumstances, talk to my parrot!”


When the repairman arrived at Wanda’s apartment the following day, he discovered the biggest, meanest looking dog he had ever seen. But, just as she had said, the dog just lay there on the carpet watching him go about his work.

The parrot, however, drove him nuts the whole time with his incessant yelling, cursing and name calling.

Finally the repairman couldn’t contain himself any longer and yelled,
“Shut up, you stupid, ugly bird!”

To which the parrot replied…

“Get him Spike!”

See – men just don’t listen!

Writer’s Island: Clarity

22 Jan

This week’s prompt from Writer’s Island immediately made me think of the Johnny Nash song, I Can See Clearly Now The Rain Has Gone.  Then I thought it would be a great song to sing if the Hub was one day miraculously cured of his CFS/ME.  This is the quickest I’ve ever written from a prompt; but it’s easy when the words are already there for you.

An M.E.Pastiche In Anticipation Of The Great Day When Doctors Find A Cure (with apologies to Johnny Nash)

I can see clearly now the pain has gone
I’ll no longer fall over obstacles in my way
Gone are the migraines that had me blind
It’s going to be a great, great, great pain-free day
It’s going to be a great, great, great pain-free day
I know I can walk straight now the pain has gone
All of the inflammation has disappeared
Here is the energy I’ve been praying for
It’s going to be a great, great, great pain-free day
Look at me now
There’s nothing but big smiles
Look straight at me, no pain in my eyes
I know I can live again, the pain has gone
All of the dreadful pain has disappeared
I can see clearly now the pain has gone
It’s going to be a great, great, great pain-free day
It’s going to be a great, great, great pain-free day
It’s going to be a great, great, great pain-free day

The original lyrics:

I can see clearly now the rain has gone
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It’s going to be a bright, bright sunshiny day
It’s going to be a bright, bright sunshiny day
I think I can make it now the pain has gone
And all of the bad feelings have disappeared
Here is the rainbow I’ve been praying for
It’s gonna be a bright, bright sunshiny day
Look all around
There’s nothing but blue skies
Look straight ahead nothing but blue skies
I think I can make it now the pain has gone
And all of the bad feelings have disappeared
I can see clearly now the rain has gone
It’s gonna be a bright, bright sunshiny day
It’s gonna be a bright, bright sunshiny day
It’s gonna be a bright, bright sunshiny day

My Dog Is Sick; My Son Never Returns My Calls; My Tooth Fell Out; But Worse Than That: The Internet Is Down.

21 Jan
Using Internet Explorer, I made a close up of ...

Image via Wikipedia

I’m writing this in Word because the internet keeps going down.  You’ll be reading it live online, of course; lucky you.  What’s so great about you that you get t’internet and I don’t?  Life just ain’t fair sometimes.

You’ll see by my first paragraph that I get a little grumpy if I don’t get online the minute I want to.  It’s like a drug.  Is it possible to mainline online?  Somebody better fix something sometime soon or someone’s gonna be bashing computers against someone’s head in a frenzy of withdrawal symptoms.


Toby seems to be on the mend!  Hooray!  My posts will stop sounding like eulogies.

He ate a little chicken last night; some more this morning; some more after that; some more…you get the idea.  He’s taking his tablets, drinking tea, and looking a mite perkier.  My bad mood has lifted like someone took their foot off the internet wire and fixed the blockage (it must be lumpy ether; what else can it be?).


Tory Boy: the incredible vanishing son.  Says he needs your help then leaves you hanging, worried sick that something has happened to him because why else would he say ‘Look at this for me’ and then not send the thing to be lookited, not answer emails, nor his phone?  It was only once I sent a text threatening to visit him that he let me know he wasn’t lying in a hospital bed, beaten to within an inch of his life with no id because it had been stolen by the beaters and there was therefore no way for the hospital staff to contact his frantic mother.  I only worried because he said ‘Look at this for me’ and then nothing.  If he had said ‘…,’ I’d have known not to worry because I never do when he ignores me for weeks at a time, never calls, texts or emails.  It’s a mother’s lot to be irrelevant; I get that.  But don’t let me think I’m relevant and then ignore me – you might as well put a gun to my head and tell me to choose between Maltesers or the internet: the resulting spin would make a tornado look like a gentle blow on a puppy’s ear.


So my tooth fell out again.  Not my tooth, actually my front left veneer.  It’s now the third or fourth time.  The dentist, who keeps a spare appointment just for my teeth emergencies, tried another tack.  She sand-blasted the back of the veneer, roughed up the front of the tooth, and cemented them together.  I wasn’t sure if I was at a dentist’s or a builders’ convention.

After two hours of starvation I tested it on a packet of Chewits and it’s still there.  I may have manky teeth but I’ve got good NHS. 


Coming Soon To A Blog Near You: The Greatest Quilt Ever Made!

(Once the Hub uploads the photos)

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