It was not all that unusual that my Darling Wife forgot that there was a world outside her quilting. It was not that unusual when that world intruded on her quilting and she became a little grouchy if she were interrupted by that outside world. And it was not that unusual for her to close the door of her sewing room and tell the world, "I'm quilting. Go away."
What was unusual was for her to open that door late in the afternoon and come stomping down the stairs and come outside where I was trying to clean some road tar off the side of our car. She looked at me bent over the side door and said, " Yargghhh."
Now, in our house, "Yargghhh" is a quilting term but one heard rarely. I stopped cleaning the black spot I was working on and straightened up. It was important that I pay attention immediately. A "Yargghhh" will do that to a person.
"Is there something happening in your life that makes you leave your quilting for a moment to come down here and watch me clean tar off the car?"
"I can't measure," she said.
"You measure up fine," I said immediately, hoping that was the response she wanted. It wasn't.
"I can't measure the block or the fabric anymore," she said.
"You forget how?" I asked.
"Of course not. I lost some inches," she said.
"How many inches?" I asked.
"I have about eight left. The rest are gone," she said.
"Just measure up to eight," I said. I am a good helper.
"I need to measure more," she said.
"So what happened?" It was time for a real explanation of why she was down by my side. I offered her a rag and some tar remover. But she refused with a shake of her head.
"I rotary cut the fabric," she said.
"And I sliced right through the tape measure."
"At eight inches?"
"That was just the beginning," she said.
"I'm having a bad quilt day," she said. She reached then for the rag I was holding and dabbed at a spot of tar on the bottom of the car door.
"Not just the lost inches?"
"I lost a block right afterwards," she said.
"How can you lose a block?"
"I made four blocks for a square and when I was done I only had three blocks."
"Are you sure?"
"No, but if I didn't lose the block, then I lost the fabric that I cut out to make the block."
"And you looked everywhere?"
"I didn't look where I lost it or I would have found it," she said. She rubbed the tar stain away and handed me back the rag.
"Anything else." I asked.
"Anything else about what?" she asked.
"Your bad quilt day," I answered. Now, if you're wondering if this is a normal conversation between a man and his quilting spouse, it is not. But no conversation about quilting is normal.
"I ran out of stabilizer, and that was bad, but then I remembered I wasn't going to use appliqué on the first quilt I was making, but I'm not making the first quilt."
"So you don't need the stabilizer?"
"Yes, I do. I decided to finish the second quilt, which is the appliqué wall hanging, because I can't find the missing block, so I have to get some more stabilizer again."
"That's happened before. You've run out of fabric and thread and needles and all kinds of things."
"My sewing machine oil attacked everything," she went on.
"Something else happened?"
"I just said that. I spent an hour cleaning oil off of all my quilting tools because the oil was tipsy."
"Too much alcohol to drink?"
"It was tipsy, not drunk. I was looking for a thread net and must have knocked the oil dispenser over and the top fell off and spilled oil everywhere but I didn't discover the damage until I changed thread and the new thread slid through my fingers. I also need new orange embroidery thread now."
"What are you embroidering that's orange?" I asked. She rarely used orange thread.
"I'm using it to stitch around the road runner's feet."
"You're making orange shoes for a road runner?"
"You have tar on your brain," she said.
"I'm just trying to understand your orange-booted chaparral bird."
"The road runner's not wearing orange shoes. And I'm not even going to tell you about the cactus."
"We have cacti in the back yard," I said plurally. We have a small cactus garden in our back yard. "You didn't get stuck on a cactus spine again, did you?"
"I got stuck by two pins I left in the fabric and forgot about."
"Two different fingers or both on one finger?"
"Don't you care about the rest of my day so far?"
"If that was all I wouldn't have said I had a bad quilt day. I would have said I had a bad quilt hour or two."
"It was a long bad day, was it?" I looked her over carefully to make sure there was no physical damage on my Darling Wife's body. She looked fine.
"Masking tape is sharp," she said in answer.
She raised her right hand and poked her index finger at me. "I never had a paper cut from masking tape before. No one gets a cut from masking tape, except me. See," she said, and I took her finger and looked and saw a small cut.
"Well, I'm glad that was all," I said.
"That wasn't all at all." She took her finger back. "I sewed a dried apricot to the border," she said.
"You were eating dried apricots again?" I had seen her take a bag of dried fruit up to her sewing room with her.
"I put it down for a second when I was distracted by the spider," she said.
"An appliqué spider or a real spider."
"It crawled out from under the foot pedal and back again. I crushed it when I started stitching again. The apricot looked good on the quilt, but it didn't go with the Southwest appliqués."
"It would have looked good on an apricot tree appliqué," I said.
"I ate it but it still had a piece of thread on it."
"You ate the spider?"
"I ate the apricot but not the thread."
"You need a vacation," I said.
"Anyway," she said with a sigh, "I need you to climb up on the ladder and put the quilt up that fell down."
"How'd that happen?"
"Make sure you throw out the rag with all the tar on it. I have the new multi-dye fabric in the washing machine and I don't want tar staining it."
"You have fabric in the machine? I thought there were only old rags in there."
"You didn't? Did you?"
"Just a small rag." Just a little tar.
Copyright 2002 by A.B. Silver
Click here to see finished "Bad Day Quilt"
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