I slipped, I slid, I fell, I groaned. I had just slipped on a quilt. Actually, it was a photo of a quilt printed on the slick paper of a page in a slick quilt magazine. I slipped because of the quilt photo, a flock of flying geese not above my head where they should have been happily flying south but beneath my feet on the page of the magazine when I took a step and went flying. Actually, I went falling. "Son of a goose," I said when I had recovered my breath enough to say anything.
I must have said it loudly, for in less than a moment, my Darling Wife had flown from one end of the house where she had been sitting at her sewing machine happy as a lark (not a goose) to my end of the house, where I had been heading toward the freezer when I passed the ceiling-high bookcase that held about ten zillion of her quilting magazines. They were in this back room with the freezer because every other shelf in the house had long been taken over in a slow but carefully planned attempt to have one copy of every quilt magazine ever printed.
This bookcase must have shifted in some way that I would never really understand. Perhaps it shivered in the cold that had wrapped our house this late fall day and crept into the back room. In any case, a dozen or more of the quilt magazines had fallen from the overstuffed shelves onto the floor where they awaited my footsteps.
"Are you all right?" my Darling Wife asked as she bent over to pick up the magazine lying next to my nearly departed-for-heaven body. (Are there quilt magazines in heaven? For her, it's more than likely.)
"What about me?" I asked as I twisted and turned in an effort to stand only to slip again on a second magazine. She reached down for that magazine as well.
"You look all right," she said. She turned to try to straighten the magazines on the top shelf and squeeze in the two magazines she had picked up. There was no room. "I need more room," she said.
"That's it," I said firmly as I stood up fully, straightened my body to its full height, which did nothing to alarm her. "I just made a New Year's resolution," I said. I shook myself to make sure no pages of any magazine that I had fallen on still clung to my body.
"A bigger bookshelf?" she guessed in eager anticipation that such a resolution would be a wonderful idea.
"Half as many," I said.
"What?" she asked. She tried to push the magazines on a lower shelf and, as she did, several magazines fell to the floor.
"That's why that's it," I said. "You have three weeks to go through all those magazines and take out half. If they are not out by the end of this year, I will offer every one of them to poor quilt-magazine-less quilters who don't have any magazines at all in their lives."
"What are you saying?" she asked as she tried to put the magazines in the third shelf down. She forced them between the others but seven new ones squirted out onto the floor.
"Three weeks exactly," I said.
"I can't," she said.
"Get started," I said. It was an idle threat, which meant that she knew I would never give away anything that in any way had to do with anything that had to do with quilting, but she didn't argue much.
"It's impossible," she said.
"No, it's not impossible. Take a small pile of those you have marked with a marker that you said you would get back to some day but never have because you keep getting new magazines each month with new ideas and all the old ideas pile up and then get stuffed in this bookcase which can't hold any more old ones."
"I could look to see if I still wanted to do that," she said quietly, mournfully. "I have some without maybe-markers." They were those scraps of paper marking those quilts she might do sometime or another. Maybe.
"Then we can give the magazines you definitely do not ever need to look at again to someone who has never read them and would like to," I said to keep her charitable spirits up.
"What about if I find new articles I like that I didn't think I could ever do before because I was only a beginning quilter at the beginning?"
"You could mark them, but you have to get rid of half of the others."
"I'm not sure," she said.
"I'm sure," I said, and I reached to the bottom shelf and took out a dozen quilt magazines and showed them to her. "These are dated 1988, and you bought them at the garage sale last year for twenty-five cents each. You told me you couldn't really use the patterns in them because not one of them called for a rotary cutter and you didn't want to use scissors to cut out a billion squares and triangles."
"I could give those away," she said.
"Good. Get started."
"But I have to look through them all again."
"That's fine. You can look now."
"Half of them?"
"Half," I insisted. I didn't expect her to take out that many, but it was a good goal, I thought.
She picked up one of the magazines that still lay on the floor and flipped through it. "The patterns are gone," she said.
"Some of the magazines had patterns stapled in. I took them out to use. Do I have to go find the patterns and staple them back in?"
"No, you can keep them," I said generously.
"Oh, here's a great quilt pattern I can do some day," she said as she opened another magazine. "I have to keep this one."
"Do what you have to do," I said, and I left her there. My arms and legs and hip and back were beginning to hurt from my fall.
That was a week ago. During the past week we had several times discussed who would receive the discarded magazines, but she had not yet decided. During the past week, she had gone through many magazines, pulling out her old "maybe-markers." But occasionally she marked new ones she had once overlooked because they looked too difficult.
This morning I went over to her " give-away" box, that large box I got for her to hold the magazines that she was willing to part with and had selected to share with other quilters. She had actually gone through all her magazines in the past week. I looked into the box. There were two magazines leaning against one side of the deep box. I bent over the edge of the box and tried to look down farther toward the bottom. I slipped and fell into the box. Except for the two magazines, the box was otherwise empty, so there was plenty of room for me. "Help," I said as I tumbled down into the abyss. "Help!"
Copyright 2000 by A.B. Silver
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