When in the course of human events the mailman brings a package that contains a book that changes history, it is best not to argue against God's will being done.
"What's in the package?" she asked. She had expected a copy of "The Creative Machine," edited and published by Robbie Fanning. I took the newsletter from the package, but it was not alone. Attached to it with a large rubber band was a book.
"The Creative Machine," I answered. "And some book."
"What kind of book?
"I don't know," I said.
"Let me have it," my Darling Wife said. I gave her the book. She looked at it. I looked at her. She looked at me.
"It's a book about quilting," she said. "Why did you order a book about quilting? I don't quilt," she said.
"I know you don't quilt. I didn't order the book."
"Maybe it's for you?" she said. "Do you plan to quilt?" she asked. She wasn't serious. She couldn't be serious, could she?
"I don't plan to quilt," I said. "I never even plan to sew again. Never!" She knew all this.
I was her husband, her soul mate. I would support her in her sewing forever. But her sewing room was her life, and though I was her life mate, I had long before gone cold turkey and given up what little sewing I did to keep my buttons on. Now I don't even like using dental floss because it looks like thick thread and I'm afraid I'll sew my teeth together.
"There's a note attached," she said. "The book's a gift for me from Robbie." She showed me the note. She showed me the book: "The Complete Book of Machine Quilting."
"Well, that explains it," I said wisely.
"It's a nice book," she said, "but I don't quilt."
"Well, maybe you could look at it some time."
"I don't have time to look at a book I'll never use. I have the Raggedy Ann doll to finish and then I have to make the two dresses for the girls." The girls are Shira and Rachel, two of our four grandchildren.
"Well, at least send a thank-you note."
"Why do you keep saying 'Well' all the time?" she asked.
"Well, why not?"
"Well, it's nice book," she said. I looked at her in amazement. Her fingers were busy flipping the pages of the book. I watched as her head bobbed and her eyes turned down toward the colorful pages. "But I don't have time to look at it," she said, and she handed it to me.
"I'll put it away," I said as I reached for the book. But she pulled it back.
"It's a very nice book. Maybe I'll look at it, just for a minute."
And, well, that's the way it began. That was over three weeks ago. Today I considered taking out a second mortgage on our house. Today I considered buying stock in every quilting store in the country. Today I asked her when she was going to sew again.
"Quilting is sewing," she said.
Three weeks and two hours after she received the book in the mail, she had looked through it all. Three weeks and four hours after she received the book we were at the first quilting shop. Three weeks and six hours after she opened the book, we were at a second quilting shop. Three weeks and eight hours after she read and reread THAT BOOK, she owned an Olfa cutting mat and her first rotary cutter.
"What's a fat quarter?" she asked me that night.
"Fat what?" I asked.
"Fat quarter," she repeated.
I looked in my pocket and pulled out the quarter. I held it sideways. "Quarters aren't too fat," I said.
When I recovered from the blow to my stomach, I went to the computer and to the Internet. I typed in "Quilt," and the computer, like some angelic Las Vegas slot machine, spewed forth more information about quilting than I ever really wanted to see. Darling Wife was delighted. Did I just say delighted? She was euphoric, her smile spread across the room, the house, all of California.
"Print it all out," she said.
"There's not enough paper in the world to print it all out," I said.
"Print it out," she repeated. So I printed out a dictionary of quilting terms and a dozen helpful hints for beginners. (I suspect she became a beginner quilter when the mailman left the post office that fateful day.)
Tomorrow she starts her first class in quilting. She needs the class--for discipline. I tried to tell her about our limited budget, but her sense of reality disappeared the day the Viking Quilting Kit for her sewing machine came in the mail. Her contact with reality faded when she watched the first of five quilting tapes she ordered (and that was before she discovered "Simply Quilts" and "Quilt in a Day" on television).
Perhaps the class will make her aware that she doesn't need a room full of fat quarters and a box full of templates and 30 spools of quilting thread and twenty yards of assorted fabric and every size plastic ruler and straight edge and quilting pins and needles and rolls of batting and open-toed dual feed and free-motion feet for her sewing machine. Perhaps, but I don't count on it.
The piles of squares and strips she has perfectly cut and sorted by complimentary color schemes fill the cabinet where we used to keep cereal and flour. The crooked, misshapen, odd pieces of fabric which resulted from her first attempts with the rotary cutter are being saved for, as she puts it, "When I make a crazy quilt."
"You don't think you're going crazy about all this quilting?" I asked as I carried in the dozen different quilting magazines she sent me out to buy this morning.
"It's just sewing," she said. "And there's nothing crazy about sewing," she added as she took the magazines out of my hand.
"Of course not," I said. Of course not. How silly of me. Indeed!
Copyright 1998 by A.B. Silver
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