Save the Frogs




"I have some dead frogs," she said. She was cutting out six-inch squares for our grandson who had "requested" exactly what he wanted. He wanted a quilt with frogs all over it.

"How many dead frogs?" I asked. I could have asked what she was doing with frogs in her sewing room, but I have learned that nothing I hear coming from her room is to be taken lightly.

"Eight," she said.

"How did they die?" I asked.

"Cut in half," she said.

"What are you going to do with them?" I asked

"Put them in the scrap drawer," she said.

"Good idea," I said.

Now, if any of this conversation seems odd, it isn't. We were having a reasonable early morning conversation about quilting and fabric. We were discussing fabric and one of her many pet peeves. The fabric she was using for part of the Jump-on quilt was covered in wildly colored jungle frogs. Our grandson Shea loved animals and especially oddly colored frogs. He was even happier if they were oddly shaped. But my Darling Wife was sure he wouldn't be happy with dead frogs on his quilt.

Oh, they may not appear dead, but frogs without heads and frogs without feet could easily be seen as being dead. And dead frogs were what lay on the Olfa mat. The fabric had been cut at the fabric shop so that when she ordered a half a yard of fabric to use for fussy cuts, so that each square for the quilt contained one whole frog, she expected healthy frogs. But the clerk had cut exactly half a yard. Eight frogs were soon on their way to frog heaven. Or parts of them were.

"I don't understand why they killed the frogs," she said.

"You said half a yard. Maybe the clerk thought you said half a frog."

"Don't be silly. She could have gone two more inches and saved the frogs."

"Are you going to take up a collection, then?"

"A collection for what?"

"To save the frogs from extinction."

"They're not extinct. The ones I have are cut in half."

"That's benefit versus cost," I said. You can't argue with that."

"What are you talking about?" she asked. She was cutting out the half-frogs.

"The fabric shop has to weigh the cost of saving the frogs against their profit line."

"What are you talking about?"

"If the clerk gave you the two extra inches, it may have only cost a few cents. But they probably have to take a pledge to the financial bottom line when they're hired."

"These frogs have no bottom, let alone a bottom line," she said, holding up four bottomless frogs. "And whoever buys the next piece off the bolt of fabric will also get dead frogs. The clerk could have saved these frogs."

"That makes sense to you, but to the corporation those two inches multiplied by all the people who buy a piece of that fabric, adds up to a lot of two inches which adds up to a lot of money." Thus spake the amateur economist.

"Oh, pooh," she said. "I would have paid the extra few cents to save the frogs. Wouldn't you?" She looked at me with that look and I answered very quickly.

"Of course."

"I hate stores that do that. I also hate it when they spend money to send out ads for big sales and give you a coupon for 40 percent off."

"That's a good savings," I offered.

"But in small print it says the discount is good on only one item in the whole store."

"So, just buy one item."

"I can't do that."

"Why not?"

"I'm addicted. You told me that. You told everyone that."

"Anything else?" I thought if she vented her spleen (what a concept), she would be happy again.

"And I don't like it when we drive all the way across town to shop and when we get there they don't have machine-quilting needles."

"They don't?"

"Whatever one item I need just then, they're out of. Right in the middle of a project."

"But you have at least a dozen packages of quilting needles." I knew that. I had opened the box when the UPS woman had come struggling and panting to our door under the weight with the latest mail-order delivery.

"That's so the store can't do that to me anymore. Those people can only trick me once."

"So the dead frogs were a trick, too?"

"I didn't see the clerk fold the fabric and didn't know the frogs were dead until just now when I unfolded the fabric."

"So next time you'll watch the clerk cut the fabric?"

"Next time I'll get my two inches," she said. "I don't want dead bunnies."


"For when I make a quilt with bunnies on it. Whole bunnies. Live bunnies. Bunnies should be whole. Happy, smiling bunnies. No one is going to cut any of my bunnies in half...."

And no doubt, no one will.



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Copyright 1999 by A.B. Silver

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