In the beginning was the word, and the word was quilt. All right, that's not the original wording, but it sometimes seems that way around this house. It especially seems that way when my Darling Wife greets me early in the morning, even before I have had my breakfast, with her plans for the day.
"I'm starting a new project," she said at 4 a.m. as she was about to leave for her morning workout at the gym.
"That's nice," I said as I rolled back on the bed and covered my ears with a pillow.
"Whikjl djkjed sdkdsk dkdl," I heard her say through the pillow. I had heard it all before. She began a project, finished a project, and started a new one. It happened over and over again. It had become her life.
But when she returned from the gym two hours later, as I was finishing a cup of green tea that was designed to eliminate all the evils in my body and the world, she came into the kitchen and said it again.
"I'm going to start a new project."
"Slurp," I said.
"Do you want to know about it?" she asked.
"Do I want to know about what?" I asked.
"A swan," she said.
"Slurp. Gulp." I swallowed the last of the tea.
"I'm going to take a shower now," she said.
"All right." There was nothing new about this conversation. We had had similar ones too many times before to think about it after she left for the shower.
And I didn't think about it again until an hour later when she leaned over me at my desk where I was trying to add up the cost of all her quilting purchases the past month so that half the quilting merchants in America could be paid.
"I'm going to start another project today," she said.
"A swan," I said to show her I had been listening earlier.
"A frog," she said.
"I like frogs," I said. I wasn't going to challenge my memory or hers. I wrote a check. She went out of the room to the kitchen.
An hour later she was in her sewing room. "How's your frog?" I asked.
"I'm starting a new project now," she said.
"Haven't I been here before?" I asked.
"Don't you want to know what the new project is?"
"A cow?" I asked.
"No, of course not. A stained glass daffodil."
"A flower this time?" I wondered what happened to the frog and swan.
"I need a flower," she said.
"Are these all small projects?" I asked, trying to understand her shifty way of life, flitting from swan to frog to flower.
"Some are small," she said before pausing.
"And some are large," she said. "My scrap quilt will be large."
"You're making a scrap quilt?"
"I'm always making a scrap quilt."
"How do you have time to do that with your new project--projects?" I asked.
"It's a between," she said.
"A between?" I asked. I knew about those small delicate hand quilting needles. But she didn't hand quilt, and I began to wonder if all the quilting was all finally getting to her. Was she Alice falling down a quilting hole in the ground? If so, I was the mad hatter, er, husband.
"I'm making the scrap quilt between the other projects."
"That makes sense," I said. No, it didn't.
"I'm going to quilt now," she said.
"I'm going to go take a long rest," I said.
"An hour and half later when I looked in on her, she was chain-stitching little pendants of fabric together."
"What's that?" I asked.
"A new project," she said.
"Another new project?" My day with this woman was becoming curiouser and curiouser.
"Two new projects," she said. "You've been away a long time."
"An hour and a half," I said.
"That's a long time for a quilter," she said.
"It seems to be for you," I said. "You seem to have a lot of new projects today." It was just a casual thought.
"Ten so far," she said.
"You've started ten new projects today? That's a lot of projects to do." I knew about "Quilt-in-A-Day," but I had never heard of "Ten-Quilts-in a-Day."
"This afternoon I'm going to start some more," she said.
"How many more?" I asked. I thought of asking her why she couldn't finish one project before starting another, but I knew something strange was going on. Maybe I shouldn't have watched that last episode of "X-Files" on television the day before.
"I don't know now. Maybe ten more."
"Is there a reason for all this?" I asked. I didn't add "madness" to my question. Quilters are never to be questioned for odd and usual behavior. I think they really may be extra-terrestrials.
"A reason for quilting? You know why I quilt," she said.
"I know why you quilt. But, do you have a reason for starting ten projects this morning and planning to start some more this afternoon?" I thought that was a dandy question.
"Yes," she said.
"Yes, what?" I asked.
"So I won't go crazy," she said.
"I don't understand you?" I said. There, I said it. I admit it. I didn't understand her that moment.
"Sometimes I get stuck on a project. Sometime I get tired of cutting out a billion pieces of fabric. Sometimes I change my mind. Sometimes I think of an idea and want to try it our right away. Sometimes I don't like what I'm making but I might like it later. Sometimes I just feel like starting a new project."
"That makes sense," I said. Sometimes.
"So I decided to start a lot of projects and have them all ready to go, so if I'm stuck or change my mind or get tired of what I'm doing or need to stimulate my mind I can just go to a different project which will be started and waiting for me."
"So you're going to do a lot of projects all at once." I hoped that was the correct question to ask. "
"So you'll never be bored or lack for something to do if one project doesn't work or you just change or mind or you get a new idea." I understood her absolutely.
"Yes," she said.
"But won't they then be UFO's?"
"UFO's are unfinished objects. These are all new beginnings."
"NBs?" I asked.
"That sounds right," she said.
Copyright 1999 by A.B. Silver
Frog Design from "Foundation-Pieced Quilt Blocks" by Mary Jo Hiney
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