"Yikes," she said.
"What's a 'Yikes'?" I asked as I went down the hall to her sewing room. I knew that it was an exclamation. Perhaps she meant "Yipes," but if she had meant "Yipes," she would have said "Yipes." I also knew that it meant something she wanted me to know. What it meant at the moment that the word was created in her brain, carried by air from her lungs, passed through her mouth, formed by her tongue and lips, and came out loudly enough that I heard it from the kitchen, I had no idea. Of course, as it came from her sewing room, and as she had been in there quite a while working on a quilt, I assumed the sound had to do with her quilting and that she was calling me.
"I have a problem," she said as I came into her sewing room.
"A problem I can help you overcome?" I asked. If it was a physical problem, such as moving the furniture around, I could probably help. If it was a supply problem, such as her running out of a certain type of fabric, I could rush to the computer or telephone and order more for her. If it was a personal problem, such as deciding what project for her to do next or what color to make an appliqué, I could only say, "It's up to you."
"I can't concentrate," she said.
"You always concentrate," I replied.
"I was concentrating," she said, "but right in the middle of quilting around the border, my mind jumped."
"A big jump or a little jump?" I wasn't being humorous; her answer would help me follow whatever she told me next.
"Into the next project," she said.
"Then that's a big jump," I said.
"One minute I was thinking about the stash quilt I was working on, and the next minute I was thinking about the quilt I saw in the new issue of the quilt magazine from Australia."
"That's a long-distance jump," I said. "Australia is really far away."
"The magazine's on the table," she said, pointing at it with both hands. "I should have been quilting completely, but my head was in the magazine."
"That's a long way to bend from here," I said, but, to avoid her bending my head a long way, I added, "So, then you were thinking about doing a new quilt instead of finishing the one you were working on."
"I don't usually do that," she said.
"But you do it sometimes?"
"If I'm just doing the unthinking part," she said.
"Yes?" I wasn't going to ask her what she meant, but she knew what I meant by not asking her what she meant.
"I was doing the quilting and I don't have to think much while I'm doing the quilting. I just have to watch it, so my brain was empty for a few minutes, and I filled it with the new quilt."
"That's what I would have done," I said smartly. Of course I had the good sense to know that if I ever really began a quilt, my head would begin empty and stay empty while my hands destroyed a lot of fabric. I don't ever think of being a quilter. "So that's when you said, 'Yikes,'" I guessed.
"I shouldn't have been thinking ahead."
"But you did think ahead and then you realized it and stopped yourself?"
"I kept thinking ahead and then I interrupted thinking about that and thought about three other quilts I have to make."
"That's a lot of thinking," I said.
"That's when I said, 'Yikes."
"And that's why I came running in here," I said. Somehow we were now back at the very beginning of this story.
"I have to start the new quilt," she said.
"Is that what you really wanted to tell me?"
"It's an eight-parter," she said.
"You wanted to say it was an eight-parter?"
"I've never done one before."
"But you're thinking about doing one now?" I still wasn't sure what she meant by an "eight-parter."
"No, I was thinking about doing it while I was quilting."
"Now, I have to do it."
"You want me to say, "Yikes."
"It will take eight months," she said.
"How big of a quilt takes eight months?"
"It's a big quilt, but I only have to do one eighth of it now."
"All right." I was beginning to understand. I could make a guess. I thought about it a moment, and then I did guess. "One part a month for eight months," I said.
"I've never done that before. I don't know if I can do just one part and then wait another month over and over again."
"It's certainly something to think about," I said.
"I already thought about it," she said.
"While you were quilting?"
"*I just told you all that. Now I have to start on the new quilt and while I'm making it I know what will happen."
"What will happen?"
"All the time I'm quilting the new quilt, I'll be thinking about the stash quilt I haven't finished, and I'll think about the next seven parts of the new quilt, and my head will spin out of control."
"You can do it," I said. I could hold her head so it didn't spin, I thought.
"You think so?"
"I'm sure of it."
She finished part one of the new quilt yesterday. She finished quilting the unfinished quilt this morning. I don't know what she's thinking about now. Probably a quilt. Yikes!
Copyright 2000 by A.B. Silver
Click here to see finished "Just a Thought" Quilt
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