We had 13 days to go before our trip when she told me, "I'm packed. Can I quilt now?"
"No quilting," I said. I wasn't being cruel. I wasn't telling her what she should or should not do. I was helping her keep her promise, her commitment, her pledge, her vow.
When she had packed up all her quilting supplies and put away all her stash, closed up the sewing cabinet she had not closed up since she had bought it, that sewing cabinet carefully selected because it could be closed up and locked when invading relatives below the age of sixty might come upon it and somehow harm it, play with it, or bump into it or hurt themselves running their fingers over the teeth of the feed dog. But last week she had closed it.
Once she had finished making the stuffed bears for our coming grandchild, she was not to go near her sewing room. There were two weeks to fill with packing, cleaning out the refrigerator, dusting and cleaning, washing the floors, and spraying every nook and cranny to keep the bugs away while we were gone. There was no time for quilting. None.
"I'm packed. I'm going to quilt now," she said again.
"Quilt what? I asked. "You said you were all quilted out. You said you enjoyed the idea of not quilting while you helped get the house ready for our trip so that when we came back everything would be clean and ready."
"Just a little quilting?" she asked, as if she ever really needed my permission for anything she wanted to do when that quilt-shaped brain of hers began to act up.
"What about all your promises to help?"
"You go ahead," she said with a sneaky little smile.
"You want me to do everything that needs to be done so you can mess up your clean sewing room again while I slave away?" It sounded right to me.
"I just want to try that new way of quilting the Sunbonnet Sue Amish Style quilt-as-you go technique I never tried before. And besides, I have all those half yards of solid Kona cotton in colors which I might never be able to use again, all those pastels and lighter tones which I already cut into sashing already anyway."
"You've been scheming again," I said.
"And all those pieces of batting to fit the appliqué blocks I made," she added to her argument, extra ammunition she didn't need because her first quilting shot had already hit its target.
"Oh, all right, go quilt already. Just don't blame me if the plane takes off without you."
"I'll be ready," she said.
Three days have gone by since then, and each day as I slave away to get the house ready, as I remove cobwebs from corners of the house she probably hasn't seen in her constant state of mind, commonly know as "work avoidance syndrome," because in order for her to quilt she has to avoid work. She tells me some tall tale about quilting being real work, and she plays at moaning and groaning at how tired she is each time she lowers the pressure foot on her sewing machine or removes a jump-stitch when she quilts over and around those cute little Sue and Sam figures on each block. Bah, humbug.
This morning she was babbling on about how much fun this new technique of quilting individual blocks to the batting was for her and how when she was finished the 35 blocks (five blocks across and seven blocks down) all she would have to do was put on the back because she was quilting the individual blocks as she worked. Work! Work was finding the missing socks from the last wash so that I could pack them in the suitcase, not drawing lines on black fabric and then sewing over the lines through the block and the batting.
"I have seven blocks quilted," she said, as if I couldn't see them up on her design wall every time I went into her sewing room to ask what extra pair of shoes she wanted to pack or if she had enough vitamins for the whole time we would be away.
"And that means you have 30 more to go," I said. "You won't have time to finish them all before we go," I said, as I had said after the first block, the second block, the third block.
"You want some help, don't you?" I was carrying two umbrellas and the raincoat she forgot to pack away.
"No, of course not. How could I ask you to help me get the house in order when you have all those sunbonnet guys and gals waiting patiently for their turn?"
"I'm not going to do them all now. I'm just getting a few started so I'll have something to come home to after the trip."
"You mean so that I'll have to unpack by myself while you run around greeeting your quilts and plugging in your sewing machines and talking to all your stash as you usually do after every trip?" I asked it as a question, but she knew it wasn't a question. She knew I was supportive and caring and understood her depravity enough to support her and wipe her brow when she went into her frantic race to complete a quilt so she could turn around and start another one.
"I'm not going to quilt for a whole month," she said. "I need to taper off slowly. Just a few more blocks to make and then I'll help you."
"Quilters don't mean a few when they say a few about anything," I said.
"I'm learning a lot by doing this. Don't you want me to learn new things so my brain cells grow and I can be a great companion you can talk to intelligently?"
"All you'll want to talk about is more quilting. Do you know you spent all of the time we were out on our last walk, which I had to force you to do so you would see the blue sky and the spring flowers, just telling me how you were going to join the sashing strips to the blocks and then later sew them together when you finally made the quilt, and that way you wouldn't have to drag the whole quilt through the sewing machine as you usually have to when you make a big quilt?"
"All right, I'll help you pack up and clean up."
"You're sure about this?" I wasn't.
"Of course, I'm sure. When I'm finished this next block I'll go find the quilt magazines to pack and the list of the quilt shops and the directions to the quilt show in England."
"Look at this great block I'm working on."
I looked. It was great block.
Copyright 2000 by A.B. Silver
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