A Quilter's Day Off




"I'm taking the day off," she said. She had just finished the new quilt for our grandson's birthday in April, and now she felt she needed some rest.

"What day are you taking off?" I asked. She had before promised to take a day off, but unless I yanked her out of the house, into the car, and to some isolated spot in some wilderness with nary a quilt shop in sight, she wouldn't have taken a day off all year.

"Sunday. Sunday will be my day of rest," she said.

"Sounds like a good day," I said. That was on Saturday.

On Sunday morning, she was up long before dawn, as usual, and I found her in the kitchen. The counter was covered with boxes and bowls and the supplies to feed most of the western half of the United States. "It's cold and foggy out," she said. "I'm going to cook today."

"I thought today was your day off?"

"It's my day off from quilting," she said. "Cooking relaxes me."

"I thought quilting relaxed you?"

"It does. But I'm not quilting today. I'm relaxing by cooking and freezing enough food for the rest of the century."

"All right," I said, agreeable to a fault.

That was at four a.m. At five a.m. I heard her in her sewing room. I got up from my desk where I had been looking over the totals of her spending on quilting fabrics and supplies for all of 1998. Just as I was about to look at the final total and file for bankruptcy, I heard her closet door open and close and open again. I went to see what the commotion was all about.

"What is all the commotion about?" I asked. "I thought you were in the kitchen cooking."

"I am, but I just remembered something I needed to do before I put the enchiladas in the microwave."

"Something to do with your cooking?" I asked. On her ironing board was a microwave dish full of enchiladas.

"I was pouring the enchilada sauce on the enchiladas when I remembered some fabric I put away last summer."

"And you came in here with your enchiladas?"

"I'm putting them in to Microwave in a minute. But I couldn't remember where the fabric was. It has a western theme and I thought I'd use it for a wall hanging for the kids." The kids were our 34 year old son and his wife who had just decorated their new house using a southwestern theme.

"Did you find it?" Of course, she did. She was holding the folded fabric in her hands.

"I just wanted to find it. Now I'm going to go back to my cooking," she said. With that, she put the fabric on her ironing board and picked up the microwave dish with her enchiladas. I followed her out of the room back to the kitchen. She went back to cooking.

A half hour later she was rummaging in the hall closet. "Are you looking for the turkey?" I asked.

"The turkey's in the kitchen," she said. "I was just looking for the new batting we put away. I can't find it."

"Batting? What about the turkey?"

"I was looking for the baster, and that made me think about batter for the muffins, and that made me think about the batting."

"All B's?" I guessed.


"Never mind. The batting's in the cupboard in the garage. You told me to put it there when it came last month."

"Oh, good, now I can roast the turkey."

Forty-five minutes later she was standing at the kitchen counter opening brass safety pins. I didn't say a word. I just stood watching her until she realized I was there. That took about five minutes.

"I'm waiting for the yogurt to cool down," she said. "I thought I'd open all the new quilting pins so they'd be ready for the next time I basted a quilt." Of course, no better time than the present.

By lunch time she had strayed several more times. She had been opening a can of olives when she remembered the disarray in her quilting drawer, that drawer left a mess when she had finished the last quilt. She spent the twelve minutes the muffins were in the oven (on the rack below the turkey) sorting her notions. Then while she was putting the last batch of soiled utensils into the dishwasher, she had gone into the cutting room off the kitchen, to put a new 45mm blade into her rotary cutter. She saved the old blade in case she had to cut through paper. During the morning she had also managed to pin together the pieces for some blocks, sorted her Kona cotton into "color families," and tested some unknown fabric she found while looking for a four-quart stock pot in the garage cupboard by burning a piece of the fabric to see if it was cotton. It melted into a glob of polyester. Finally, she cut out and quilted new oven mitts to take out the turkey safely. "It's not quilting," she explained. "We need them."

After lunch, during which she read through two new quilting magazines, marking their pages with PostIt tabs so she could get to "those neat projects" sometime in the future, she said, "It's so nice to have a whole day off from quilting." Then she went into her sewing room "Just for a second" to put away the magazines. When she didn't come back right away, and the timer on the oven beeped for the turkey, I went to look for her. She sat at her sewing machine pushing her right hand down and lifting it back up.

"What now?" I asked. She held up her hand to me. She held one of her many pin cushions. "Yes?" I asked, seeing lots of glass-headed quilting pins. But then I looked closer. I didn't see any pins. I only saw their blue and yellow heads.

"The grandchildren," she said.

"Go on," I prompted.

"I told them not touch anything in here--"

"They touched something?" I asked. What grandkids wouldn't? A sewing room was a paradise for their curiosity.

"They pushed in all the pins on all the pincushions. I have to pull them all out."

"Now?" Of course, now. "The turkey's done," I said.

"You get it," she said. "I'll be right in."

I got the turkey. I took it out of the oven, my hands protected by newly quilted oven mitts. I took the turkey out of the pan and I began taking it apart. I waited for her to come to my side to finish up, but I waited in vain. I stripped the turkey, cleaned up the mess, disposed of the carcass, and went to look for her.

"Honey," I said as I went into the sewing room, but she was not there. I looked under the sewing table, in the closet, in each of the twenty-four drawers of fabric, in the closet again, and finally deduced that she was not there. I went on a room-to-room search. I found her in the living room pulling quilting books from her shelf.

"They're out of order," she said. I'm just putting them back in order so I'll be able to find the information when I need it."

"O.K. Sure," I said.

"When I'm done here, I'm just going to relax some more," she said.

"You look relaxed now," I said.

"I am. I'm glad I decided to take today off from quilting."

"Me too," I said.

Copyright 1999 by A.B. Silver

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