First Things First




"The first thing I'm going to do when we get home is finish the wedding rings," my Darling Wife said as our plane was coming in for a landing in Los Angeles. We were still another plane and four hours from home, but the excitement of quilting again lit up her eyes and helped her overcome the fatigue of our long day.

"The first thing I'm going to do when we get home is finish the frog appliqué for the frog quilt," she said as we passed through customs.

"The first thing I'm going to do when we get home is work on the scrap quilt with all the pieces left over from the last quilt," she said as we sat in the terminal waiting for our next flight. We were two hours from home.

"The first thing I'm going to do when we get in is work on the Amish-style Sunbonnet Sue quilt," she said as we boarded our commuter flight home.

"The first thing I'm going to do when we get home is sort out the fabric that should have come in the mail and look for that piece of tan crush I ordered for the background of the view quilt I need to finish right away," she said as we taxied into our local airport. We were twenty-minutes from home.

"The first thing I'm going to do is look at all the pictures you took of all the quilts we saw in England so I'll have some new ideas," she said as we turned up our street.

"Do you need new ideas?" I asked, knowing she had filled a carry-on bag with British quilting magazines she had bought in England. My arm was a little longer from having carried the load. She didn't answer me.

"The first thing I'm going to do is turn on my sewing machine and hope it remembers me," she said as we entered the house.

But, the first thing she did after crossing the threshold was to collapse, which was a reasonable thing to do after not having slept in 24 hours. Jet lag numbed our brains, dragging us down. Our bodies were so heavy with fatigue we fell over at the door and had to crawl into the house. When I was able to, the first thing I did was turn on the air conditioning. Even at 6 p.m. PDT, (2 a.m. in London where we should have been sound asleep), it was still 94 degrees out. It was 88 in the house and little but a few cubic feet of hot air remained after our month-long trip. The second thing I did was bring in all six pieces of luggage (one suitcase full of fabric and patterns) and her carry-on supply of quilt magazines.

She plugged in the sewing machine seven days later. She turned it on two days after that.

During those nine days she had obsessed about her recently abscessed tooth which we knew would need a root canal. A day after we arrived home, we drove 300 miles round-trip to our son-in-law, a miracle worker and the most immediately available dentist for an emergency root canal for Darling Wife. Four days later we drove 500 miles round-trip through construction detours, around traffic blocked by accidents, through the middle of a black torrential rainstorm, to the hospital maternity ward to visit our son and his wife and our brand new grandson, Jacob. (Born June 8 at 2:32 a.m. Six pounds thirteen ounces. We missed the birth of our grandson by four hours. When we saw him, he looked like his dad. We assume he still does. We hope he has his mother's disposition.)

During those nine days, I picked several bushels of apricots and plums which had begun ripening the moment our plane landed and were soon dropping all over our front lawn.

During those nine days, we opened a month's worth of mail, including eight quilt magazines for her, five packages packed full of fabric, and enough bills for previous quilt orders to warn off any decent human being who was thinking of taking up quilting.

The first thing she did when she finally turned on the sewing machine was to sew up the seam of my pants which had been split on the sharp edge of the table that carried our luggage through the X-ray machine at the airport.

"I really have to quilt," she said as she finished the repair.

"You said to remind you to sew the button back on your jacket and put snaps on your raincoat so the rain never again reached your knees when the wind blew the coat open," I said. It had rained on us once in London, and her knees had gotten wet.

"I haven't touched a quilt in five weeks," she complained in that tone of voice unique to quilters who haven't quilted for ten minutes, let alone five weeks.

"You touched some of the quilts you saw in London," I said.

"I have to touch my own quilts," she said with a sigh. "I have to sit down and stand up and iron and measure and cut and sew and get my life back to normal," she said.

"You have to freeze the rest of the fruit I picked," I said.

"I'm tired of freezing fruit. I can't quilt apricots and plums."

"We have to pack to go visit our son on his birthday on Saturday," I said. He was our second son and lived 215 miles in the opposite direction. (That's 450 miles round trip.)

"You pack," she said firmly. "You freeze the fruit. You go shopping for food. You take out the trash and rake the yard. You take the car in for service. You go and get the haircut I need. You cook the meals and dust the furniture and make the beds and take my shower for me."

"You need to quilt?" I asked.

"Now. I have to quilt right now. Immediately."

"So soon?" I asked.

"It will be the end of the universe and all that's in it if I don't quilt," she said. I looked closely at her face to see if she were kidding. I saw a vision of the Apocalypse in her eyes.

"Maybe you should quilt first," I said.

"I don't know where to begin," she said.

"Do the wedding rings," I said.

"But what about the frog appliqué?" she asked. Her voice still seemed to have jet lag.

"Do the frog quilt first then," I said helpfully.

"But what about the Sunbonnet Sue?"

"You could do that first," I agreed.

"Maybe I should just do something new?" she asked herself. I knew she wasn't asking me.

"Have a lottery," I said. "Spin the needle. Draw straws. Roll the dice. Cut the cards. Pick a project from one to a thousand," I urged. I truly believe she has a thousand projects lined up in what used to be the house we shared but which is now shared by her and her stash and quilt projects and supplies and books and magazines, including those new magazines from England.

"Well," she finally said after some thought, "I'll think about it, and whatever comes into my head first, I'll do."

I ran. I had seen what happens when she invites quilting ideas into her head. I ran. Safety first, I always say.

Copyright 2000 by A.B. Silver

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