"Now what? I asked. She was sitting on the floor of her sewing room surrounded by piles of fabric.
"I'm checking my portfolio," she said.
"Oh, well, that's good," I said, having no idea what she was doing. Her answer was some new answer for her. Usually, she came out with an answer to any question I asked when she was doing something I thought was odd by telling me she was quilting.
If I she were sitting on the stairs with a piece of fabric in her hand and she was staring at it and I asked her what she was doing, she would say, "Quilting."
If she were rearranging the bottles of Ketchup and mustard and ginger sauce and salad dressing in the refrigerator and I asked her what she was doing, she would say, "Quilting."
If she were drawing lines in the dust that had settled on the glass-topped table when she was dusting and I asked her what she was doing drawing lines in the dust, she would say, "Quilting."
Her answers were always truthful. She was not trying to trick me or confuse me. Though any rational, normal person would answer those questions differently, my Darling Wife lived in a different world. She was a quilter and, of course, what she was doing in the refrigerator was quilting.
For example, when I asked her what rearranging the bottles had to do with quilting, she answered without hesitation. "I never made a bottle quilt and I was wondering if I could and if I could whether I should."
In the dust of the glass table she had been designing a seascape quilt.
When she sat on the stairs she was thinking about the design for a Jacob's ladder quilt. "The stairs reminded me of a ladder," she said. And, incidentally, our 14 month old grandson's name is Jacob and he was visiting that night (with his parents).
So, when she told me that she was checking her portfolio, I didn't fall apart as some non-quilter's spouse might do when he found his wife on the floor surrounded by fabric. I just gently asked, "Portfolio?" and waited for a quilter's answer.
"Crush," she said as she pointed to a pile of folded one-yard cuts of crush fabric.
"Nice," I said.
"And Batik," she said.She pointed to a distant pile.
"Nicer yet." I looked at the swirls of purple and black and blue and green.
"Marbles," she said as she placed a flat hand on the pile closest to her.
"I used to play marbles," I said. "We'd draw a circle...."
"Blacks, solid and black on black and charcoal," she said, this time pointing with her foot.
"You have a lot of fabric on the floor," I said. She had a lot of fabric on the floor. She also had more fabric than King Midas had gold, only her stash wasn't a fairy tale, though everything she touched did turn to fabric in some way. Well, she did know how to turn money into fabric.
"What are you really doing?" I asked after a reasonable time.
"Diversifying," she said.
"Your not a stock broker," I said. Of course, one could say, if one was talking in quilt talk, that she was heavily invested in fabric and thread and batting, let alone her sewing machine and furniture and books and magazines and notions, all of which made it possible to put the fabric and thread and batting together.
"I watched the business report on television yesterday," she said.
"You watched a show on business?" She would rather have a root canal.
"Not a whole show. Five minutes." I gave her a puzzled look which she returned with a smile. "Maybe one minute."
"You watched one minute of a business show and that brought you up here into your sewing room to sit on the floor and play with your fabric?" I asked. It's all in how a person asks a quilter the question that determines what kind of answer pops out of the quilter's mouth.
"Don't put all your eggs into one basket," she said.
"I heard that before," I said. I did.
"A bird in the hand..." she began.
"Leaves you with one messy hand," I said.
"The show was about losing your shirt," she said.
"And my shirt has something to do with quilting?"
"It means not to have just one color or design," she said, trying to be patient with me. She had that, "I'm-trying-to-be-patient-with-you" tone of voice.
"I get it," I said, about to guess wildly at what this was all about.
"You do?" she said skeptically.
"You can't make a quilt with one color," I said.
"Yes, you can. Remember the all white quilt that we saw at the show and you asked why a sheet was hanging on the wall and I told you to look at the quilting."
"You told me it was all in the quilting and it was magnificent and you began to cry because you thought you'd never be able to quilt anything like that."
"I only cried a little and that much only because the lady next to us had too much perfume on, and my eyes began to itch and tear." She looked at me to see if I believed her.
"All right, so how does that explain all this," I said with a sweep of my arm around the room, my hand pointing down at every pile of fabric in her hoard.
"The man on the show said to the woman on the show that a person should not invest in only one thing, such as stocks or bonds or gold or real estate but diversify."
"A little of each?" I guessed, wiser now, about to understand.
"A lot of each," she said. "I can't make a quilt with only a little. So I have to make sure my stash portfolio has diverse fabrics in it so if I run out of one I can always fall back on the others."
I fell behind, caught up on the phrase 'stock portfolio.' "Stock portfolio?" I asked.
"I'm investing in my quilting future, and I have to go through the whole house and take inventory of all my fabrics and make sure I don't have too much of one kind and not enough of the other."
"And if you have too little fabric you will get more to match your too much? You won't just cut down on your too much fabric?"
"The business show didn't say anything about that," she said.
"No, I guess not. How long is this diversifying going to take?" I asked.
"Forever," she said. "Keeping track of a stash portfolio is an on-going job."
"Forever!" I said. Of course! What other answer would I have expected?
Copyright 2001 by A.B. Silver
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