Two rare events coincided. The first event was so rare that if it were known to the general public, panic would ensue and the global economy would suffer. She ran out of the gold rayon thread she was using to satin stitch a small part of the appliqué she was working on. The second event was less rare, but, in our part of southern central California, rare enough. We had thunderstorms and heavy rain.
Normally, and talking about the quilter in our home, the word "normal" can mean just about anything SHE wants it to, normally we do not have raging rivers falling from the sky illuminated by lightning and swept along by forty-mile-an-hour gusts. So she was faced with a dilemma: go outside, get into the car, drive twelve miles to a quilt shop in a rain which was bringing flash floods to the streets she would have to drive on, or stay inside safe and warm in her sewing room and continue to work on other parts of her wall hanging.
"I need the thread," she said.
"It's wet out there," I said. "It's windy and the streets are flooded."
"I need that thread," she said again.
"I know you need that thread, but you don't really need it this minute. You can work on other parts of your quilt. You can straighten up your stash. You can work on one of your WIPs. Then, when the rain stops and the winds subside, and the rivers of water drain from the streets, you can go to the quilt shop." That was a perfectly logical and common-sense thing for me to say.
"The store might be closed before the storm is over," she said.
"Then you can go tomorrow. It might even be sunny and warm tomorrow."
"Tomorrow?" She was incredulous. "Tomorrow?"
"It's a thought," I said, knowing full well that for some quilters there was no concept of a tomorrow, no thought of what the word might mean in the realm of natural occurrences. For my Darling Quilting Wife, "Now," is the only word that has any real meaning.
"How hard is it raining, really?" she asked.
"Listen," I said, as a clap of thunder broke over the house and sheets of rain slapped loudly on the sewing room windows.
"And look," I said as bolts of lightning zagged across the sky. It came so fast we missed the zig.
"I really need the thread," she said.
"You want to drive in this weather?" Of course, the answer would be no. We didn't do bad weather. As retirees, the first thing we gave up was leaving the house in bad weather. Along with her stash, which would not be used up until the next millennium began, we had stockpiled all the essentials to last us through that rare occasion of really bad weather.
"No, I don't want to drive in this weather. I can't see in the rain anyway," she said.
"See," I said, convinced for a fraction of a second that she was being sensible.
"You drive," she said.
"You want me to risk leaving the house to get in the car and drive you across town to the quilt shop so you can buy a spool of rayon thread to satin stitch four inches of your appliqué?"
"Yes," she said.
"You want me to risk getting hit by lightning and electrocuted for a spool of thread?"
"You can stay out of the way of the lightning," she said.
"Then you want me to risk drowning in a flooded intersection because you can't wait a day?"
"Drive around the flooded areas," she said.
"You want me to risk having the car tossed from one side of the road to the other by howling winds, perhaps being tossed a hundred yards into the home of a stranger who might wonder why her house was being crushed by a car all because you want a spool of thread?"
"I really need that thread."
By that time, I was desperate. I looked around her sewing room and saw the three drawers of thread she had. One was devoted entirely to embroidery thread. I pulled it open and looked inside. She had what looked like enough embroidery thread to embroider two thirds of the continental United States. I started going through the spools, big spools and small, spools of more colors than were natural to our earth. I found five spools of gold and pulled them from the drawer.
"Here, use these," I said. "You have plenty of gold."
"They're not the right gold," she said.
"They look just like the thread you used," I said as I compared them with the appliqué stitching.
"They're different," she said.
They look the same," I said. I took each spool and compared it more closely with the original color. She was right. They were not exactly the same. But they were so close to the original, not one soul in a thousand would be able to tell the difference. "No one will be able to tell the difference," I said.
"Every quilter in the world who sees the finished quilt will come up to me and ask me why I used two different colors of gold when I could have just gone to a quilt shop and bought the same color to match. I will be so ashamed. I will be too embarrassed to ever quilt again, and life in this house will no longer be the joy it has been for all these years."
"Well, why didn't you say that before?" I asked. "What's a little storm when you put it like that?"
"Then you'll drive to the quilt store?"
"Of course." Who could refuse a desperate quilter who had it in her power to make a storm out of my life if she didn't have the right nuance of gold. "When do you want to go?"
"I'm not going," she said. "You can get the thread for me."
"You want me to drive in this storm, and you plan to stay here?"
"Of course! You don't expect me to go out in weather like this, do you? Besides, I have things to do."
"I can work on the rest of the quilt while you're gone," she said as if I had known all along what her answer would be. "And drive safely," she added.
Note: She denies sending me out in any storm alone.
Copyright 2000 by A.B. Silver
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