Silent Treatment




Sometimes it's not easy being married to a quilter.


"Shhhhhh," she whispered.

"What?" I said loudly.

"Shhhhh. Shhhhh. Shhhhh," she said.

"Are you all right?" I asked.

"I need some quiet," she said quietly.

"I am quiet," I whispered.

"I have to think," she said.

"You need quiet to think?"

"This time, I do. It's decision time."

"You're going to make a decision?"

"If you keep quiet," she said.

"All right." I kept quiet for a moment. Then I asked, "What decision?"

She put her finger to her lips and said again, "Shhhh."

"What decision?" I whispered ever so quietly.

"A quilting decision," she said.

"I assumed that," I said. "What about."

"Hmanocks," she said. I could barely hear her, but I am trained in quilting communication, even when it's whispered. What she said was, "How many blocks."

"Hmnyhvorhmyouneed?" I said back in whispered quilt talk. "How many you have or how many you need?" I asked.

"How many I need," she said clearly.

"How many do you have?"


"How many do you want?" I asked.

"I'm trying to decide," she said.

"I'll be quiet," I said, and I turned and, treading softly, walked out of her sewing room. She had a decision to make.


For the past three weeks she has been working on her new quilt, and she now has thirty blocks completed and hanging on her design wall. Normally she works with music playing or the television on in the background. Normally, she and I talk as I wander in and out of her vicinity. But lately, I have begun to notice how much quieter she has become each day, how much more distant, how much more intense she has been in building each square, each block to make the new quilt.

Day after day, she worked and worked at the quilt. Once each day I asked her, "Almost finished?"

"Not yet," she said day after day.

"When will you know when?" I asked.

"I don't know when I'll know when. When I know, I'll know. This is an important quilt, and I want to get it right."

"All right," I said.


Now it was very quiet around the house, and for the next four hours I worked quietly at my desk, I read quietly, and I watched television quietly, listening through earphones. If ever a quilter had quiet, it was during that time.

Then she called to me, "Come here," and the call was loud and clear, shattering the silence. I went, tiptoeing down the hall quietly just in case I hadn't heard what I had heard.

"What?" I whispered.

"What are you whispering about?" she said in her normal tone of voice.

"I'm being quiet so you can think about your decision," I said, still keeping my voice low.

"It's too quiet to make any decision," she said.

"Then you haven't decided?"

"There's nothing to decide now," she said.

"But you just said it was too quiet to make a decision."

"It is, but I decided I didn't have to make the decision now."

"Then that's your decision," I said.

"What is?"

"Your decision not to make a decision."

"But that's because I was working on another block," she said.

"But you said you had to make a decision on whether to make another block."

"I did, but I don't. I just started another block and didn't decide how many more to make or whether I'll use the block I just finished making."

"So, the quilt isn't finished yet and it may not be finished right away or it might?" I asked.

"I'm going to make a few more blocks and then I'll decide if I have enough or too many, and when it's time to make that decision, I'll tell you."

"Will you tell me quietly?"

"I don't know. Quilters have to be creative when we work, and sometimes we need quiet and sometimes we don't."

"Then you're feeling creative now?"

"I feel tired. It just took me four hours to paper-piece the new block."

"Four quiet hours," I said. "That's a lot of quiet around here."

"I could use some more quiet right now," she said.

"To start another block?" Sometimes I understand her, and sometimes I don't.

"I need to think about the border."

"How can you think about the border when you don't know how big you're going to make the quilt?"

"I know how big I'm going to make the quilt," she said.

"But you just said you didn't."

"When I'm finished with as many blocks as I am going to make, the quilt will be big enough," she said.

"So you really don't know how big it will be, and you will keep on making blocks until you do, and then it will be just right. Right?"


"And you need more quiet now so you can think about the border?"




Copyright 2000 by A.B. Silver

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